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History Of Computers

Counting Table [Photo Courtesy IBM]

The first computers were individuals or people, that is, electronic Computers (and the prior mechanical Computers) were given this name since they played out the work that had previously been allocated to individuals. Computer was initially an occupation title: it was utilized to portray those people (dominantly ladies) whose employment was to play out the tedious figuring required to process such things as navigational tables, tide diagrams, and planetary positions for cosmic chronological registries.


Old Abacus

The abacus was an early aid for mathematical computations. Its only value is that it aids the memory of the human performing the calculation. A skilled abacus operator can work on addition and subtraction problems at the speed of a person equipped with a hand calculator (multiplication and division are slower).

Napier Bones

An eccentric Scotsman named John Napier invented logarithms in 1617, which are a technology that allows multiplication to be performed via addition. The magic ingredient is the logarithm of each operand, which was originally obtained from a printed table. But Napier also invented an alternative to tables, where the logarithm values were carved on ivory sticks which are now called Napier’s Bones.

Schickard Calculating Clock

The German professor Wilhelm Schickard in 1623, built the first gear driven calculating clock, which was named after him (its inventor).

Pascal’s Pascaline

At age 19, in 1642, Blaise Pascal invented the Pascaline as a aid for his father, who was a tax collector. He built 50 of the gear driven one-function calculator which could only add but they were not that accurate.


Leibniz Stepped Reckoner

Few years after Pascal, the German Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (co-inventor with Newton of calculus) managed to build a four-function (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) calculator that he called the stepped reckoner, because instead of gears, it employed fluted drums having ten flutes arranged around their circumference in a stair-step fashion.

Jacquard Loom with Punch Card

The Frenchman Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, invented a power loom that could base its weave (and hence the design on the fabric) upon a pattern automatically read from punched wooden cards, held together in a long row by rope. Descendants of these punched cards have been in use ever since

Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine

By 1822, the English mathematician Charles Babbage was proposing a steam driven calculating machine was a size of a room, which he called the Difference Engine. This machine would be able to compute tables of numbers, such as logarithm tables.

Lady Ada Lovelace is considered as the first lady Computer Programmer as she developed the concept of writing systematic operational instructions for the analytical engine. In 1850, George Boole an English mathematician proposed logic theory of using the binary (two) number system. This number system had only two numbers 0 and 1. In this procedures all the quantities are represented in terms of o and 1. Bool proposed a logic popularly known as Boolean algebra. Computer processors are designed on this system of logic.

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

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