The history of computers is actually quite long. It covers more than a century of inventions and developments. If you really want to get to know computers, you need to find out how it all started.
The three generations of computers
Some people trace the history of these electronic devices to the time of the abacus. While the idea of computing started there, it is a far cry from what the modern computers can do today. Having said that, we can only consider the 19th century as the real beginning of computers.
Charles Babbage was an English professor of mathematics during the 19th century. It is believed that he started the idea of computers. He designed the Analytical Engine. This became the framework for all the models of computers that will be invented after his time.
If we run down through every invention in the history of computers, we will definitely have a very long list. To keep it short, the evolution of computers can be categorised into three important generations.
This is the period between 1937 to 1946. During this time, Dr. John V. Atanasoff (a professor) and Clifford Berry (graduate student) built the first electronic digital computer. It was called the ABC or the Atanasoff-Berry Computer. After that, in 1943, the Colossus, an electronic computer, was built to be used by the military. There were more developments until 1946 – when the first digital computer was built, the ENIAC. This was short for the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. The computer weighed 30 tons and has around 18,000 vacuum tubes that were used for processing data. This particular computer consumed so much electricity that when it was turned on for the first time, the lights in Philadelphia dimmed. While it was huge, this computer can only perform one task and it had no operating system.
This is the period between 1947 to 1962. All the computers from this generation got rid of the vacuum tubes and used transistors instead. It was discovered that these were more effective and reliable. In 1951, the UNIVAC or Universal Automatic Computer was introduced. It was meant to be the first computer created for commercial use. Two years later, in 1953, the IBM or International Business Machine 600 and 700 series were launched. During the second generation, computer programming languages started to develop – with more than 100 languages available. Computers also started to be built with a memory and operating system. The use of tape and disks for storage media and printers for output were also introduced during this time.
So far, this is the final generation in the current history of computers. This started in 1963 until present times. It was during this time when the integrated circuit was invented. This revolutionised computing as we know it. Tech companies started to make computers smaller and more powerful. In effect, they became more reliable and able to run various programmes all at the same time. The MS-Dos or Microsoft Disk Operating System was born in 1980 and IBM released the personal computer in 1981. The PC, as it was called, became the popular computer used for both home and business use. Three years after that, Apple released the Macintosh computers. It was introduced with an interface that is icon driven. When the 90s rolled in, the Windows operating system was born and millions have been using it ever since.
As you can see, the history of computers reveals just how far we have come in the development of these devices. Now, it is safe to assume that we cannot live without it. With all the technological advancements, we can expect more developments and improvements in the world of computer technology.