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History of Computer

This chapter is an elaborate summary of the history of Computers.

We will know how it was invented and the progression and usefulness of this gradually of how it has been shown up to us years after years.

About the  Inventor

The computer as we know it today had its beginning with a 19th-century English mathematics professor, the father of the computer, Charles Babbage. Charles Babbage (1791-1871), was an English philosopher, mathematician, inventor, mechanical engineer who designed the first automatic computing engines. He invented computers but failed to build them earlier.

 He is credited to be the first complete Babbage Engine that was completed in 2002, 153 years after he had designed. It was built faithfully to the original drawings consisting of 8,000 different parts, weighs five tons, and measures 11 feet in height.

Definition of Computer

A computer is a programmable machine that manipulates data according to a list of instructions. It can also be defined that Computer is any device which aids humans in performing various kinds of calculations. 

Basic Characteristics of Computers

The basic characteristics of the computer can be classified into three main ways:

  1. It responds to a given specific set of instructions in a well-defined manner. 
  2. It can execute a pre-recorded list of instructions wherever we want it to be saved. 
  3. It can quickly store and retrieve large amounts of data just by a click or two. 

Earliest computers

At the very beginning, calculations were computed by humans, whose job title was computers. These human computers were mainly engaged in the calculation of any mathematical expressions. The calculations of this period were very specialized and they would require years of training in mathematics.

 The first use of the word “computer” was recorded in 1613 in the book The Yong Mans Gleanings by Richard Braithwaite almost 400 years back, referring to a person who carried out calculations and this continued to be used until the middle of the 20th century when the industrial revolution gave rise to machines whose primary purpose was just calculating.

Computer Generation

There are five generations of computers respectively:

1. First generation

First generation – 1946 – 1958 ( known as the machine language, the lowest-level programming language understood by computers, to perform operations, and they could only be able to solve one problem at a time)

2. Second generation

Second generation – 1959 – 1964( smaller, faster, cheaper, more energy-efficient and more reliable)

3. Third generation

Third generation – 1965 – 1970 (Much smaller and cheaper compared to the second generation computers and tt could carry out instructions in a fraction of a second)

4. Fourth generation

Fourth generation – 1971 – today( small computers became more powerful and  could be linked together to form networks, which led to the development of the Internet)

5. Fifth generation

Fifth generation – Today to future( Based on Artificial Intelligence (AI))

Computers by Eras

Computers have been renowned countless times till now. They were bigger in size at the very beginning but by the time, they managed to be smaller and useful in various multi-tasking.

Here are the different computers of the centuries mentioned below:

Analog Computers

During the first half of the 20th century, scientific computing needs were analog computers, which used both direct mechanical and electrical models of the problem. However, these were not programmable and lacked the versatility and accuracy of modern digital computers later. The first modern analog computer, invented by Sir William Thomson in 1872, was a tide-predicting machine. It was later conceptualized in 1876 by James Thomson, the brother of the more famous Lord Kelvin. 

Digital Computer

The electromechanical analog computer was developed by the American Navy in 1938. The Torpedo Data Computer, which used trigonometry to solve the problem of firing angles at a moving target. During World War II, similar devices were developed in some other countries as well.

Modern Computers

The principle of the modern computer was proposed in 1936 by Alan Turing. He proved that his creation is capable of anything that is computable. Through executing instructions stored on tape, allowing the machine to be programmable. The fundamental concept was where all the instructions for computing are stored in memory.

First Programmable Computer

The Z1, was created between 1936 and 1938 by  German Konrad Zuse which is considered to be the first electro-mechanical binary programmable computer. 

Scheutzian Calculation Engine

 It was invented in 1843  by Per Georg Scheutz and was based on Charles Babbage’s difference engine. It was known to be the first printing calculator. 

The First Portable Computer

 Osborne 1, was the first portable computer that was released in 1981. It was released by the Osborne Computer Corporation

Personal Computer/ Mobile computers

The first mobile computers were very heavy and ran from mains power. Later portable computers such as the Osborne 1 and Compaq Portable were considerably lighter but still needed to be plugged in with the power. The computer relied on multiple switches to input and output data by turning on and off a series of lights. 

The first laptop removed this requirement by incorporating batteries. The same developments allowed manufacturers computing resources into cellular mobile phones by the early 2000s.

These smartphones and tablets run on a variety of operating systems and have become the dominant computing device on the market nowadays.

Final Thought

There are endless components of Computers that would contain several pages to write about.No specific number of pages can cover up the history of computers. It is the greatest renovation of technology. It has made our life more easier and playful than before. Years after years it has been giving us more surprises with its various revolutions. 

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