The History of Computers
The history of computers can be traced back to several early inventors. Charles Babbage, John Mauchly, and J. Presper Eckert are among them. Another group of innovators is the Electronic Controls Company. The company developed the first computer in the world, dubbed the Difference Engine. Unlike modern computers, early computers used punched wooden cards instead of electronic chips. Charles Babbage’s idea for a steam-powered calculating machine, called the Difference Engine, fails to make the machine work.
A mechanical computer is a type of machine that has many different functions, and Charles Babbage is considered one of the fathers of computing. While he failed to build the first computer, he did introduce a number of other innovations that have had a significant impact on the field. Babbage was a polymath, focusing on inventions, mathematics, and mechanical engineering. His discoveries have spanned a range of disciplines, including engineering, science, and mathematics.
The first computer was not a machine, but a human. It was an analytical engine, and its output was stored in tables in valuable books. The machine was not a full computer, though; instead, it was a complex human machine that specialized in numerical calculations. Babbage’s inventions were the precursors of today’s computers. Babbage’s machine was named the Difference Engine after the principle it was based on – the principle of finite differences enables it to perform complex mathematical calculations with repeated addition and subtraction.
Unlike modern computers, Charles Babbage’s first computer was a mechanical machine. It had an integrated memory unit and a punched card system to store data. It was so complex that it had a hard time working without human help, but his work paved the way for computer science. Babbage’s inventions are now incorporated in computers of all kinds. It’s easy to see why Charles Babbage is considered the father of the computer industry.
In the early 1940s, Mauchly and Eckert founded the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. Eckert stayed on as the company’s chief engineer, but Mauchly took over as president, focusing on logic design. The company grew through the support of government contracts, and Mauchly also played an important role in establishing the Eastern Association of Computing Machinery, a trade association for computer makers.
In the early 1950s, Mauchly was chairman of the Physics Department at Ursinus College. He became interested in computer technology and was a leading figure in the formation of the Association for Computing Machinery. He served as its first vice president and then its second president, and he also founded the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He died in 1968, but his memory is still alive and well.
Although Mauchly was not an expert in electronics, his interest in electronics led him to take a summer course in the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. His work impressed the faculty and eventually led to a job as a teacher at the Moore School. Ultimately, Mauchly helped bring the computer to the world stage. This invention changed the way we live and worked. However, today’s computers are much more than just gadgets.
The history of computers starts with the invention of the transistor, which became widely available for public use in the 1920s. John Mauchly, a man of quiet intellect, was a pioneer of the electronic computer. He had a love for electronics and was able to work on a home-built device during his youth. He received several honors for his work, including the Howard N. Potts Medal from the Franklin Institute. In 1965, he received the Modern Pioneer Award from the NAM. In 1968, he was awarded the AMPS Harry Goode Memorial Award for Excellence.
J. Presper Eckert
He introduced the first computer into the world in 1955, and was a recognized technology leader in the company. He worked all shifts and would tackle nagging problems whenever they arose. Eckert also remained a key executive at the company until it merged with Sperry Rand Corporation in 1955. He retired from Unisys in 1989, but he remained an adviser to the company until the end of his life.
He also became a computer pioneer by co-inventing the first general-purpose electronic digital computer, called the ENIAC, with John Mauchly. He attended the William Penn Carter School in Germanstown, Pennsylvania, and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering. He graduated from the school in 1941 and had a post as an instructor there. He was also the only person to build a commercial computer and it was based on his design.
Despite the difficulties of building a computer, Eckert worked together with Mauchly to develop the ENIAC. Eckert was nearly done with his master’s degree when he was hired as chief engineer of the project. He was tasked with designing the electronic circuits. The main challenge Eckert faced was deciding how to design 18000 valves. He succeeded, but knew that other techniques would soon surpass delay-line systems.
Electronic Controls Company
The Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation was founded in 1947 by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly to develop and manufacture new computers. Originally called the Electronic Controls Company, the firm changed its name to Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation in 1950. The company was acquired by Sperry Rand, a multinational computer corporation, and is still going strong today. Eckert & Mauchley’s brochure demonstrates the various products in development.
The UNIVAC 1 was the first commercial computer. The US Census Bureau purchased the first machine, which was called UNIVAC. The brand was later sold to typewriter giant Remington Rand and continued to be manufactured commercially until 1986. Eventually, the IBM System/360 was introduced and became the leading personal computer in the world. The Commodore PET came fully assembled and featured four or eight kilobytes of memory. It had two built-in cassette drives.
In 1943, Konrad Zuse sold his Z4 to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. The company began manufacturing computers and marketed them under the name Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. It later developed a series of mainframe computers. During this time, the company was able to produce computers of the highest quality. Despite the challenges in implementing a personal computer, the company still managed to build a high-quality product.
Harvard Mark 1 calculator
This computer was the first electronic device to process data in the human language. The Harvard Mark I calculator had 60 sets of 24 switches for manual input and was capable of multiplying two 23-digit decimal numbers in just three seconds. It also performed basic arithmetic operations with ease, and could perform three additions and subtractions in less than a second. It could perform six-digit multiplication and division in just under six seconds, as well as trigonometric functions in over one minute.
The Harvard Mark 1 calculator was designed and manufactured by IBM in 1944. The Harvard Mark 1 was room-sized and had 3,500 relays. It worked by running a camshaft along the length of the machine, synchronizing thousands of parts to produce a mathematical table. The Harvard Mark 1 was soon superseded by electronic stored-program computers. While its predecessors were important, today, electronic computers are the standard.
IBM spent $200,000 on the project, and donated $100,000 to Harvard for the ASCC. However, Aiken’s failure to acknowledge IBM’s involvement in the creation of the Mark I was a problem. Aiken and IBM split ways in 1942. Aiken did not mention the fact that IBM’s James W Bryce worked on the project. Aiken, however, did attend the dedication ceremony in 1944.
The UNIVAC I was the first computer, and it used 5,200 vacuum tubes to perform nearly one million operations per second. The central complex, weighing thirteen tons, was 4.3 m wide by 2.4 m tall and occupied a floor space of 35.5 m2. The machine’s main memory was only half full, with 45 commands, two for each word. It could be programmed to perform a variety of tasks, including word processing and data processing.
The Census Bureau gave $300,000 to research and build a computer. The pair was originally employed by the University of Pennsylvania, but a dispute over ownership led to a split in 1947. They later formed Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation, which grew into the company known today as the UNIVAC. This computer is still one of the world’s most famous computers. There is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Census Bureau and the first computer.
The first UNIVAC could add, multiply, and divide in 120 microseconds. However, the company had trouble selling its computer, and the technology wasn’t available until 1960. When the first UNIVAC was released, Eckert and Mauchly introduced magnetic tape for data storage. Unfortunately, these devices were not as fast as they should have been, and the company didn’t even release the first commercial magnetic tape reader.