Technology

Who Invented the Computer?

By Sidirgot
September, 21 2018

Even thought most of us use a computer of some shorts every single day, there Is little to no information about the actual inventor. Up to this day there is no patent for the computer. Although, a lot of scientist, inventors and mathematicians throughout the years tried to claim ownership for the idea of the computer, no one actual received it.

 The reason behind this fact is simple, there is not one person responsible for Its creation, but many. It’s not a single breakthrough, but a lot. Some small, some big each and every invention played a significant role into the computer we all know today, let’s take a look.

Most of the first computers had a single purpose, to be great at calculating problems.

Analytical Engine

In 1822 mathematician Charles Babbage conceived of the Difference Engine, a machine that could tabulate polynomial functions. 

The situation was more or less like what it is today. For any real progress to be made in the computing world, there had to be enormous founds. So, the U. S. government after receiving a petition for founds from Babbage, decided to go ahead and support the project.

Since most of the parts he needed for the machine were required to be very precise and the mechanical shops at the time were not that advanced to produce them. His first challege was the need to design and create specific tools.

By 1829 he had spent all of the money the government had provided, plus a lot of his own funds but only bits and pieces of the engine had been made. He continued to toy with the machine and eventually in 1832 enough parts were ready to assemble a part of the engine and it worked perfectly. 

But, because of the enormous cost and the lack of results, the government ended up pulling out its support for the project. Babbage to counter that move proposed another design, that of the Analytical Engine, witch he said was far superior to that of his first design.

Babbage was obsessed with his new idea. With the Analytical Engine Babbage asked himself why couldn’t we build a machine that could solve any mathematical problem. The fact is that Babbage design for the Analytical engine had parts similar to those of the modern computer. The heart of the machine, the mill made the calculations, like the CPU on a modern computer. The store held the numbers to be used in the calculations, like the modern computer memory. Instructions and numbers could be given to the machine using punch cards, like the keyboard and the mouse. The Analytical Engine was never built.

In 1991 a Difference Engine was built based on a simpler Babbage design and it operated exactly like Babbage predicted 150 years earlier.

Universal Turing Machine

In 1936, British mathematician and cryptanalyst Alan Turing imagined a machine that could compute any problem presented in a set of instructions. The Universal Turing Machine, later renamed to Turing Machine, it was a blueprint for automatic computation.

Alongside Turing, German civil engineer Konrad Zuse, had build a lot of mechanical machines for his own calculations. After 1939, his primarily founding was the Nazi German government, and so most of his work went unnoticed. 

He was the founder of one of the earliest computer companies in 1941 with the Z4, the world’s first commercial computer. Most of Zuse’s machines were Turing-complete.

ENIAC

ENIAC
ENIAC

American physicist John Mauchly and engineer Presper Eckert built the Electronic Numeric Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). Nothing like this had ever been build before. They had to be invent everything from square one, then they had to build it, then test it and finally they had to program it. ENIAC, was nearly 100 feet long and weighing 30 tons. It contained almost 30.000 transistors, 10.000 capacitors, 6.000 switches and 18.000 vacuum tubes.

The most remarkable fact about the ENIAC was that its 6 primary programmers were women. Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman. Even though this woman played the most significant role for the ENIAC, none of them receive any kind of recognition.

 The main problem of the ENIAC computer was that it had no memory to run programs. The machine had to be manual rewired for each specific problem. After the declassification of the ENIAC computer, started the race for the first computer to run a program from memory, with the Manchester Baby being one of the first. It run a program from memory on June 21, 1948

Other Important inventions

William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain of Bell Laboratories invent the transistor in 1947. The transistor replaced the vacuum tubes and is one of the most important inventions ever in history of computing. All three of the scientists received the Nobel prize for their discovery.

Steve Wazniak & Steve Jobs invented the Apple 1 in 1975.

Jaap Haartsen and Sven Mattisson co-invented the Bluetooth in 1994.

IBM 305
IBM 305 x2 3.75MB Hard Drives.
Douglas Engelbart in 1963 invented the mouse.
Douglas Engelbart in 1963
invented the mouse.
Ivan Sutherland invented Virtual Reality Headset Prototype in 1968.
Ivan Sutherland invented Virtual Reality
Headset Prototype in 1968.

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