The history of computers goes back hundreds of years. During the 19th century mechanical calculating machines were designed and built to solve increasingly complex number-crunching challenges. By the early 20th century, computers became larger and more powerful, thanks to the advancement of technology.
The computers of the 19th century were almost completely different from the huge computers of the 20th century that occupied whole rooms.
Here is a brief history of computers, from their primitive number-crunching origins to the powerful modern-day machines that surf the Internet, run games and stream multimedia.
The 19th century.
The loom that uses punched wooden cards to automatically weave fabric was invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard. Early computers used punch cards.
The steam-driven calculating machine that Charles Babbage came up with would be able to compute tables of numbers. The "Difference Engine" project was funded by the British government, but it failed due to lack of technology at the time.
The world's first computer program was written by the daughter of a poet. According to Anna Siffert, a professor of theoretical mathematics at the University of Mnster in Germany, the first program was written by Lovelace while he translated a paper from French to English. She gives her own comments on the text. Her annotations are three times longer than the actual transcript, according to an article by Siffert. "Lovelace adds a step-by-step description for the computation of Bernoulli numbers with a machine, which makes her the world's first computer programmer." Bernoulli numbers are a sequence of numbers.
The Analytical Engine was designed by Charles Babbage. The portion of the mill with a printing mechanism is located here. The Science and Society Picture Library is a part of the Getty.
The world's first printing calculator was designed by Per Georg Scheutz and his son Edvard. According to Uta C. Merzbach's book, "Georg Scheutz and the First Printing Calculator", the machine is significant for being the first to compute tabular differences and print the results.
The 1890 U.S. Census was calculated using a punch-card system. The machine saves the government several years of calculations, and the U.S. taxpayer approximately $5 million.
The early 20th century.
Vannevar Bush invented and built the Differential Analyzer, the first large-scale automatic general-purpose mechanical analog computer.
The principle of a universal machine, later called the Turing machine, was presented in a paper by Alan Turing in 1936. Turing machines are able to do anything. The modern computer is based on his ideas. The National Museum of Computing states that Turing was involved in the development of the Turing-Welchman Bombe.
The first electric-only computer, without using gears, cams, belts or shafts, was built by JohnVincent Atanasoff, a professor of physics and mathematics at Iowa State University.
Hewlett Packard was started in Palo Alto, California, in 1939 by Bill and Dave Packard. David Paul Morris is credited with the image.
The Hewlett Packard Company was founded by David Packard and Bill Hewlett. Hewlett-Packard's first headquarters are in Packard's garage, and the name of the company was decided by the toss of a coin.
Konrad Zeuse, a German inventor and engineer, created the world's first digital computer in 1941. During World War II, the machine was destroyed. After the fall of Nazi Germany, Zeuse released the world's first commercial digital computer, the Z4.
The Atanasoff-Berry Computer was designed by Atanasoff and his graduate student, Clifford Berry. The book "Birthing the Computer" states that this is the first time a computer can store information on its main memory and perform one operation every 15 seconds.
The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator was designed and built by professors at the University of Pennsylvania. The first "automatic, general-purpose, electronic, decimal, digital computer" is said to be the machine in the book "Milestones in Computer Science and Information Technology".
The first automatic, general-purpose, electronic, decimal, digital computer computer, by plugging and unplugging cables and adjusting switches, is called the ENIAC.
The first commercial computer for business and government applications was built by the University of Pennsylvania in 1946, after funding from the Census Bureau.
The transistor was invented by William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain. They discovered how to make an electric switch without a vacuum.
The first practical stored-program computer was developed by a team at the University of Cambridge. O'Regan wrote that the first program of EDSAC was calculated in May 1949. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Automatic Computer (CSIRAC) was built in 1949 by scientists with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. O'Regan says CSIRAC is the first computer in the world to play music.
The late 20th century.
According to the National Museum of American History, Grace Hopper developed the first computer language, which became known as COBOL. Hopper was posthumously named the "First Lady of Software" in her Presidential Medal of Freedom citation. The IBM 701 EDPM was conceived by the son of IBM CEO Thomas Johnson Watson to help the United Nations keep an eye on Korea during the war.
John Backus and his team of programmers at IBM wrote a paper about their new FORTRAN programming language.
Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce showed off the integrated circuit. Kilby was awarded the prize for his work.
The Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco had a prototype of the modern computer. A live demonstration of his computer, including a mouse and a graphical user interface, is included in his presentation. The development of the computer from a specialized machine for academics to a technology that is more accessible to the general public is marked by this.
The first computer mouse was invented by Douglas C. Engelbart at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in 1968.
Bell Labs said that Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and a group of other developers created the operating system that made large-scale networking of diverse computing systems practical. The C programming language was used to develop the operating system.
The first Dynamic Access Memory (DRAM) chip was unveiled by Intel in 1970.
The floppy disk was invented by a team of IBM engineers.
The Computer Museum of America says that in 1972 the world's first home game console was released by a German-American engineer. The world's first commercially successful video game was released by Nolan and Al Alcorn.
Robert Metcalfe, a member of the research staff at Xerox, developed a technology that connects multiple computers and other hardware.
The Commodore Personal Electronic Transactor (PET) was released in 1977 and features an 8-bit 6502 processor, which controls the screen, keyboard and cassette player. O'Regan says that the PET is successful in the education market.
The January 1975 issue of "Popular Electronics" features the first mini computer kit to compete with commercial models. After seeing the magazine issue, two "computer geeks," Paul Allen and Bill Gates, offer to write software for the Altair, using the new BASIC language. The two childhood friends formed their own software company after the success of their first endeavor.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak co-found Apple Computer. According to MIT, Apple I is the first computer with a single-circuit board.
The Apple I computer was a basic circuit board that enthusiasts would add display units and keyboards on. The Science and Society Picture Library is a part of the Getty.
The National Museum of American History says that Radio Shack began production of the "Trash 80" Model 1 computers in 1977 for $599. According to a book, the company took 250,000 orders for the computer within a year.
The first West Coast Computer Faire was held in San Francisco. The Apple II computer has an audio cassette drive for storage, and is presented by Jobs and Wozniak at the faire.
The first computerized spreadsheet program is introduced.
WordStar, the world's first commercially successful word processor, was released in 1979. WordStar has 137,000 lines of code, according to Matthew G. Kirschenbaum's book "Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing".
IBM's first personal computer, "Acorn," is released at a price point of $1,565. The operating system used by Acorn is from Windows. There are more than one optional feature, including a display, printer, two diskette drives, extra memory, and a game adapter.
IBM's first personal computer was the Acorn. Spencer Grant is credited with the image.
The National Museum of American History says that the Apple Lisa is the first personal computer to feature a GUI. The machine has a menu and icons. The first portable computer with a flip-form design and the first to be sold as a "laptop" is the Gavilan SC.
The Apple Macintosh is announced in a Superbowl advertisement. The retail price of the Macintosh is $2,500.
Microsoft released Windows in November 1985 in response to the Apple Lisa's GUI. The Amiga 1000 was announced by Commodore.
The World Wide Web was proposed by Tim Berners-Lee, a British researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The paper details his ideas for Hyper Text Markup Language.
The use of graphics and music on PCs was improved by the Pentium microprocessor in 1993.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed the search engine.
Microsoft invested $150 million in Apple in 1997 to end a court case.
The term "wireless fidelity" was developed in 1999 and covers a distance of up to 300 feet.
The 21st century.
The successor to its standard Mac Operating System is called OS X and was released by Apple in 2001. The first nine versions of OS X are nicknamed after big cats, with the first being called "Cheetah", according to TechRadar.
The first 64-bit processor is released to customers.
The Mozilla Corporation launches a new browser. The first major challenge to Internet Explorer is the Web browser. According to the Web Design Museum, the first five years of Firefox had over a billion downloads.
The Linux-based mobile phone operating system was bought by Google in 2005.
The MacBook Pro is from Apple. The Pro is a dual-core mobile computer.
July 22, 2009, is when Microsoft launches Windows 7. The new operating system allows for easy access to jumplists, easier previews of tiles and more.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds the iPad during the launch of the device. The image is credited to the Getty.
The iPad is unveiled.
The Chromebook runs on the Chrome OS.
The Apple Watch was released in 2015. Microsoft releases a new operating system.
The first reprogrammable quantum computer was created. There has been no quantum-computing platform that has the ability to program new algorithms into their system. They're usually each tailored to attack a particular algorithm, according to study lead author Shantanu Debnath.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on a program that uses molecule as computer. Anne Fischer, program manager in the Defense Sciences Office, said in a statement that chemistry offers a rich set of properties that they may be able to harness for rapid,Scalable information storage and processing. Each molecule has a unique three-dimensional atomic structure as well as variables such as shape, size, or even color. This richness provides a large design space for exploring novel and multi-value ways to process data beyond the 0s and 1s of current logic-based, digital architectures.
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