A Brief History Lesson About The Computer And How It Has Evolved Through Time

A computer is an electronic machine that has the capability to accept input, store, recall and process information to give an output in a readable format. But in earlier times, a computer meant people performing mechanical computations under the supervision of a mathematician.

In order to understand the future, we have to look at the history. The history of computer systems can be traced back in Babylonia where the abacus was born about 200 centuries ago. The abacus is a wooden frame holding two parallel rods wherein the beads are strung. It was used like a calculating tool by the ancient society. During the year 1642, Blaise Pascal built the first digital computer. He created his calculator to aid his father who was a tax collector at the time. Numbers were entered using dials and it was able to provide an answer as accurately as when calculated by using mathematics. Today, the basic theory of Pascals computer is still getting used in various applications such as odometers and water gauges.

In 1822, an English mathematician going by the name of Charles Babbage was able to develope the very first programmable computer. He had a theory that arithmetic tables could be computed and programmed mechanically. He built a computing machine and called it the difference engine. Babbages difference engines were among the first in its category of mechanical computers. Although his machine was unwieldy, its construction was analogous to a modern computer. It could follow instructions; there was a separate data and program storage, and also it had a detached input and output unit. However, Babbages machine was not really finished because of economic problems as well as a few other issues. You can find a recently constructed version of the difference engine in the Science Museum in London.

The evolution of punched cards provided an important leap towards computing automation. In 1890, Herman Hollerith and James Powers used these cards with computers. They had made improvements on devices that could interpret the data contained in the cards with little intervention from humans. Because of this, work efficiency increased and reading mistakes were greatly reduced. Additionally, these punched cards could be utilized like a storage memory of nearly infinite range.

World War II created a requirement for greater computer power which was to be utilised in military applications. John Eckert and his colleagues in Pennsylvania built a high capacity electronic computer to serve this purpose. This computer was called the Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator or ENIAC. It had been an all-purpose computer but of nonflexible construction.

It goes without saying, Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, Max Newman and Tommy Flowers were key individuals in the development of the computer at Bletchley Park. Colossus was created for code breaking but greatly progressed the advancement of the modern PC as we know it in the present day.

Computer designs from the 50s were mostly valve-driven (vacuum tube). They were much better in performance than their earlier predecessors but they were bulky and expensive to produce. Transistor-driven computers were developed in the 60s which effectively replaced the valve-driven computers. These transistorized computers were faster, smaller in size and more importantly, less expensive.

In the 1970s, the integrated circuit became popular and was widely used as the primary electronic component for computers. It paved the way for mass production of computers, thus making them affordable not only for companies but for personal individuals as well. This led to the birth of personal computers. Since then computer technology has developed exponentially to the point where now we have powerful computers in the palm of our hands. The smart phone, of course! But they still break down, and when that happens we call on an expert IT support service. They might not be able to mend Colossus though…