A Short History of Computers

English: Charles Babbage

Sir Charles Babbage

Though Sir Charles Babbage, a British Mathematician has been credited
as the first initiator in the evolution of today’s computer system,
however, the whole idea of the development of the computing
machinery has been dated back by many to the time of abacus.
Do you
remember the history of abacus? It is as old as 3000 BC and was
primarily used as a calculating device to aid memory.
The first computing machinery built in 1812 by Babbage was a model
called the Difference Engine to compute logarithm tables and print the
results. He later conceived in 1833 of building a better device capable of
performing any calculation such as addition, subtraction, multiplication
and division according to instructions coded on cards. This device was
called the Analytical Engine which consisted of most features we have
in our today’s computers. For example, Babbage’s Analytical engine
could store intermediate results in a memory unit. Though Babbage died
before the engine was finally constructed in 1871 by his son, he still has
the honour of being called the father of computers till today. It should
interest you to know that the first computer program was developed for
Babbage’s Analytical Engine by Ada Augusta Byron and she is today
remembered as the first Computer programmer.
Now, the whole history of computers is very loaded and that cannot be
covered by you in this unit. But you should know that the development
of technology has been closely associated with the evolution of
computers. While Babbage machines were mechanical in designs,
another computer called the Mark I was one of the first world’selectrical computers. Then, there was the ENIAC (Electronic
Numerical Integrator And Calculator) which was the first electronic
computer built in 1945. The first computer to perform arithmetic and
logical operations using a stored-program within it was called the
EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer). This was
followed few months later by EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Automatic
Computer). Today’s computers are electronic in design.
You will now round up this very brief history of computers by knowing
that the most early generation computers were developed for scientific
and military purposes. The first commercial electronic computer was the
UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer). Finally, the historical
development of the computer can be divided into four phases or
generations as follows:

· The 1st generation computers used vacuum tubes.
· The 2nd generation computers used transistors.
· The 3rd generation computers used Integrated Circuits (IC’s).
· The 4th generation computers used Large Scale Integrated (LSI)
circuits and Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits.
Today’s computers fall within the 411′ generation group while the
gradually evolving 5th generation computers are those expected to mimic
human intelligence. Do you say, that would be great?. Good. You will
now learn briefly some common types of computers in the next section.

Article source:   Open University of Nigeria


One thought on “A Short History of Computers

  1. Pingback: “11-11-11 Binary Blues: Babbage Remembered and People’s Polls Bring New Beginnings To Old Situations “ | Living History

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