History of Computers

History of Computers


Until the development of the first generation computers based on vacuum tubes, there had been several developments in the computing technology related to the mechanical computing devices. Let us have a look at the major milestones which led to present day computers:

3000 B.C.


The Abacus – a rudimentary first computing device developed.

Abacus was the first mechanical calculating device for counting of large numbers. The word Abacus means calculating board, It consists of bars in horizontal positions each having 10 beads representing units, tens, hundreds etc.


A.D. 700-900


Europeans started using Hindu-Arabic math.




Hindu-Arabic math became popular in Europe.




John Napier introduced logarithms in 1614.Napier’s Bones, a mechanical device was built in 1917 for the purpose of multiplication by an English mathematician John Napier.




Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician and experimental physicist, built the first mechanical digital calculator, Pascaline, that could perform addition and subtraction on whole numbers.





German mathematician Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz extended the Pascal’s design to perform multiplication, division and to find square root. This machine is known as Stepped Reckoner. It was first mass produced calculating device, which was designed to perform multiplication by repeated addition.




Charles babbage, Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University and considered as “Father of computers”. Invented different engine with mechanical memory to strong results.




August Ada, “The First programmer” suggested binary data storage rather than the decimal.




George Boole realized that complex mathematical problems could be solved by reducing them to a series of affirmatively or negatively answered questions. The binary system of 1’s for positive answers and 0’s for negative ones could thus be implemented. This theory of Boolean logic became fundamentals to the design of computer circuity.




Dr. Herman Hollerith, developed a punched card that would contain data coded in form of punched holes.




The first prototype electronic computer was conceived by Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff . Atanasoff teamed up with Clifford Berry to build the first electronic computer. They called it “Atanasoff-Berry Computer” or ABC. The ABC used vaccum tubes for storage and arithmetic logic function.




Von Neumann presented a paper outlining the stored program concept.




Harvard Aiken in partnership with IBM built the Mark I, the first automatic, sequence controlled calculator, used by military to compute ballistics data.




Mauchly and Eckert built ENIAC (Electronic Numeric Integrator and Calculator). It was a second general purpose electronic digital computer.




A team headed by Maurice Wilkes at Cambridge University developed EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) which was also based on John Von Neuman’s stored program concept. This machine used mercury delay lines for memory, and vacuum tubes for logic.




Mauchly, Eckert and Von Neumann built EDVAC ( Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer), the second stored program computer.




At Harvard, An Wang, founder of Wang Laboratories developed magnetic-core memories.




Jay Forrester at MIT organized magnetic core memory to be more efficient.




Turing built the ACE (Automatic Computing engine), which can be considered the first programmable digital computer.




Read Admiral Grace Hopper developed UNIVAC I Compiler.




Mauchly and Eckert built the first computer, designed and sold commercially UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer)




Backus who was one of a group of IBM (International business Machines) Engineers developed FORTRAN (Formula Translation Language)




Kilby and Noyce developed and perfect the integrates circuit, to be used in later computers.




Hopper developed COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) programming language.




Gene Amdahl designed IBM System/360 series of Mainframe computers, the first general purpose digital computers to use integrates circuits.




Oisen with Digital Equipment Corporation produced the PDP-1 (Program Data Processor), the first mini computer.




Dr. John Kemeny, a Mathematics Professor at Dartmouth and his colleague, Dr. Thomas Kurtz, developed the computer language BASIC (Beginner’s All purpose Symbolic Instruction Code).




Intel created a memory chip that could store kilobit information. Another innovation at Intel came from Ted Hoff, who has integrated circuit by compressing twelve chips into four. The arithmetic and logic functions of several chips could be contained on one chip, called microprocessor. Hoffs microprocessor was called the Intel 4004.




H. Edward Roberts, an electrical engineer who is now generally known as the “Father of the Micro Computer” designed the first Micro Computer.




Seymour Cray’s Cray-I Super Computer was delivered to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico.




Stephan Wozniak, technical expert and Steven Jobs designed and built the first Apple Micro Computer.




Lower cost computer systems- Personal computers intended for home use were produced. This transformation was the result of the invention of the microprocessor, a processor on a single integrated circuit (IC) chip. New program products introduced.



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