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Computer History June 24, 2008

Posted by ctcoberon in Uncategorized.

This month, I replaced my wife’s 17 year old computer with a new Dell, which had me thinking! How old is the computer and when was it first invented? But, before I start I would like to issue an apology to all those great men and women of science who have contributed so much to the computer industry, and who because of space, I can not acknowledge their achievements this article.  

History acknowledges Charles Babbage (born in London in 1791) and his Analytical Engine as the worlds’ first computer. Also, Augusta Ada Byron (born in 1815, the daughter of the English poet Lord Byron and noted mathematician) as the first computer programmer. Augusta first met Charles Babbage in 1833, and from then on, they worked closely together on his inventions. The next major advance came because the United States Census needed a faster way to tabulate the census results so, they organised a competition in 1890, which was won by Herman Hollerith, who used punched cards to store information. Hollerith method quickly became widely accepted by many large organisations world-wide. In 1924 Hollerith’s Computing Tabulating Recording Company through a name change given to it by its then President Thomas J Watson became known as International Business Machines (i.e. IBM).

The next advancement in calculating machines was the Germany WWII Enigma machine and the decoding of its messages became possible with the assistance of Colossus, an electronic decoding machine. However, the first true electronic computer was the ENIAC (Electronic Numerator Integrator Analyser Computer) in 1945, followed by the UNIVAC in 1951. By the end of the 1950s there was dozens of players like; Burroughs, Control Data, General Electric, Honeywell, RCA, Sperry Rand, and in Europe; Bull, Ferranti, ICL, Siemens and Olivetti and in Japan; Fujitsu. However, they all had their own proprietary hardware and software. It was not until IBM in 1964 with the release of the System/360 that things changed and by the mid-1960s and computers i.e. mainframes were in common use by governments and industry throughout the world, all thanks to the System/360. Between the mid-1960s and 1980 a lot of other exciting things happened, too many for us to mention in this brief article.   

The Revolution now starts: IBM getting personal! With the success of Apple computers and others convinced IBM to enter the market, and they did very quickly, by using standard off-the-shelf components, which gave birth to the first “IBM Compatible” PC on 12 August 1981. IBM estimated that they would sell around 4,000 units per year, but soon the demand was such they were selling 4,000 units per month. The outcome was the birth of today’s Personal Computer (PC) Industry and many more intriguing stories. 

Famous quotes:

  • Thomas J Watson (IBM) once stated the world would only need five computers!
  • Intel stated by 2010 CPU would be running at between 15 to 20GHz.
  • Bill Gates is quoted as saying; what’s this Internet I keep hearing about!
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