Evolution of Computers

1450 B.C. Abacus – China

1600 A.D. Napier’s Bones

  • John Napier
  • Scottish Mathematician.
  • Bones were strips of ivory with numbers written on them.

1642 A.D. Adding Machines – France

  • Blaise Pascal
  • Scientist, Philosopher and Mathematician.
  • He only nineteen years old when he invented this machine.
  • Pascaline was the name of the machine and it worked with clockwise gears and levers.
  • The machine was capable of addition and subtraction only.
  • To honour him, programming language Pascal was named after him.

1692 A.D. Multiplying Machine – Germany

  • Gottfried von Leibniz
  • Improved upon Pascal’s machine and introduced a mechanism to carry out
    automatic multiplication.
  • He is best know for his work with Isaac Newton in developing a branch of mathematics which we know as calculus.
  • This device was capable of performing addition, subtraction,
    multiplication and division. Could perform square root function too although
    not always accurately.

1813 A.D. Difference Engine – England

  • Charles Babbage
  • An Englishman who was working on his doctorate, need to perform complex
    calculations within given time period.
  • Invented steam powered Difference Engine which could perform complex
    calculations and print them out as well.

Early 1800s Jacquard Loom – France

  • Joseph Marie Jacquard
  • He was a weaver who developed a programmable loom.
  • It used large cards with holes punched in them to control the pattern
  • Others adapted the punch cards as primary form of input and they were in
    use about 30 years ago.

1862 A.D. Arithrometer – France

  • Charles Xavier Thomas
  • Invented the first calculator with with commercial prospects.
  • Won a gold medal for this inventions at the International Exhibition in
  • His machine performed addition, subtraction, multiplication, division
    and square root functions accurately.

1863 A.D. Analytical Engine – England

  • Charles Babbage
  • Conceived of a mechanism which could carry out long sequence of
    calculations under automatic control.
  • Ability to store 1000, 50 digit numbers in one second and multiply 20
    digit numbers in three minutes.
  • A form of punched cards was to be used for inputting data.
  • Plans could not be materialized due to technological limitations of that
  • First person to conceive of the “Stored Program Concept“.
  • Recognized as “the father of computers“.
  • Analytical Engine was finally developed in 1991 and is on display at
    Charles Babbage Institute at Minnesota.
  • Was accompanied by Augusta Ada Byron
    • Daughter of famous poet Lord Byron.
    • Excellent Mathematician who contributed tremendously to Babbage’s
    • First female computer scientist and programmer.
    • Computer programming language Ada has been named in her honour.

1896 A.D. Punch Card Machine – USA

  • Dr. Hermann Hollerith
  • Used cards with holes punched in them to speed up the collation job of the American Census of 1880.
  • Holes were punched through cards to indicate presence of a particular criteria in a respondent.
  • Holes punched in the card enabled wire brushes in the machine touch a metal plate which carried charge.
  • Charge was transmitted to electric counters which incremented the numbers.
  • Founded Tabulating Machine Company in 1896.
  • In 1911, Tabulating Machine Company merged with two other companies to form Computing Tabulating Recording Company.
  • Marketing expert Thomas Watson Sr. led the company and the company had a great success.
  • In 1924, the name of the company was converted to International Business Machine Corporation.

1930s Turing Machine – England

  • Alan Turing
  • He was a mathematician who published a paper in late 1930s, describing capabilities and limitations of a hypothetical general purpose computing machine “Turing Machine”.
  • Also helped in developing Robinson, the British Computer that was used to decode the messages encrypted by German Enigma Machine.
  • In 1950, he published a book “Computer Machinery and Intelligence” which proposed the “Turing Test of Artificial Intelligence” which basically explains that the computer is capable of interacting with the user.

1939 – Atanasoff Berry Computer(ABC)

  • Professor John Atanasoff accompanied by graduate student named Clifford Berry.
  • Built a special purpose electronic computer which was capable of solving problems of equations.

1944 A.D. Mark-I

  • Dr. Howard Aiken


Note: The list is incomplete and will be updated.

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