The evolution of the modern computer is a fascinating tale, and one that spans several centuries. The term computer used to refer to a person who worked out calculations or computations. This term was coined in 1613 and did not change its meaning from “guy who knows math really well” to “that mechanical marvel that carries out computations” until the middle of the 20th century.
History of the Computer
The computer started out as an automated machine that calculated figures and, though it is difficult to find a specific date as to the first time the human mind didn’t have to struggle through complicated figures all on its own, there are quite a few machines that are worthy of honorable mention, such as the Sumerian abacus and the Antikythera mechanism which was used to compute astronomical positions.
In 1642, smack dab in the middle of the Renaissance, the first mechanical calculator, which could perform all four basic mathematical functions without the help of human intelligence, this was the seed from which computers sprouted.
In their infancy, around 1800, computers performed simple tasks, like keeping track of employees’ workday. And in 1837, Charles Babbage designed the first fully programmable computer, however it was his son Henry Babbage that completed and built the first actual computer, this happened in 1888.
In the mid to late 1880’s Herman Hollerith ran with this idea and built the first machine-readable medium for recorded data.
Computers in the 1900’s
Jumping forward a few hundred years, to the first half of the 20th Century, many scientific computing needs were met by increasingly sophisticated versions of the analog computer. And in 1936 Alan Turing provided the blueprint for the modern computer with his Turing machine, which made use of an algorithm to compute more complicated data.
During the 1950’s computers used vacuum tubes as their electronic elements, but these were quickly replaced by semiconductor transistor-based machines, which were cheaper to produce, smaller, which made it easier to create the personal computer, required less power, and were much more reliable. In 1953 the first transistorized computer was demonstrated at the University of Manchester.
In the 1970’s the integrated circuit was invented which paved the way for the microprocessor. This further decreased the cost, size, and malfunctions with computers.
In the 1980’s computers entered the home and it the personal computer was born. Later, with the invention of the Internet, computers became a form of communication with the outside world, growing to replace and rival the telephone and the television.
The defining characteristic of the modern computer is its programmability. This sets it apart from other household appliances and increases it functionality in the home and workplace as a tool or as a vehicle for your entertainment. There are many great companies out there to get a good computer for your family, look at dell.ca for great deals.