“Who invented the computer?” is not a question with a simple answer. The real answer is that many inventors contributed to the history of computers and that a computer is a complex piece of machinery made up of many parts, each of which can be considered a separate invention.
Development of Computers
The computers we see today, were not always the same. By computers, I mean anything that is able or helpful in computing. Early computers were mechanical calculators, punching machines etc. Then came ENIAC etc. that digitally computed but were too big. The usage of personal computers started as a hobby among a certain set of people and went on to become something that people cannot live without.
Abacus is known to be the first mechanical calculating device. Which was used to be performed addition and subtraction easily and speedily? This device was a first develop Ed by the Egyptians in the 10th centaury B.C, but it was given it final shape in the 12th centaury A.D. by the Chinese educationists. Abacus is made up of wooden frame in which rod where fitted across with rounds beads sliding on the rod. It id dividing into two parts called ‘Heaven’ and ‘Earth’. Heaven was the upper part and Earth was the lower one. Thus any no. can be represented by placing the beads at proper place.
Napier As the necessity demanded, scientist started inventing better calculating device. In thus process John Napier’s of Scotland invented a calculating device, in the year 1617 called the Napier Bones. In the device, Napier’s used the bone rods of the counting purpose where some no. is printed on these rods. These rods that one can do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division easily.
Pascal’s calculator In the year 1642, Blaise Pascal a French scientist invented an adding machine called Pascal’s calculator, which represents the position of digit with the help of gears in it.
Leibnz Calculator In the year 1671, a German mathematics, Gottfried Leibniz modified the Pascal calculator and he developed a machine which could perform various calculation based on multiplication and division as well.
Analytical Engine In the year 1833, a scientist form England knows to be Charles Babbage invented such a machine. Which could keep our data safely? This device was called Analytical engine and it deemed the first mechanical computer. It included such feature which is used in today’s computer language. For this great invention of the computer, Sir Charles Babbage is also known as the father of the computer.
The history of computer development is often in reference to the different generations of computing devices. Each of the five generations of computers is characterized by a major technological development that fundamentally changed the way computers operate, resulting in increasingly smaller, cheaper, more powerful and efficient computing devices.
First Generation of Computers (1942-55): Vacuum Tubes
The computers manufactured between 1942 -55 are called first Generation Computers. They were extremely large in size with vacuum tubes in their circuitry which generated considerable heat. Hence, special air conditioning arrangements were required to dissipate this heat.
They were extremely slow and their storage capacity was also very less compared to today’s computers. In these computers punched cards were used to enter data in to the computer. These were cards with rectangular holes punched in them using some punching devices. UNIVACI was the first commercially available computer, built in 1951 by Remington Rand Company. It had storage capacity of about 2000 words. These were used mostly for payroll, billing and some mathematical computing.
Second Generation Computers (1956-1965): Transistors
The computers, in which vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors made from semiconductors, were called second generation computers. The use of transistors reduced the heat generated during the operation. It also decreased the size and increased storage capacity. It required less power to operate and were much faster than first generation computers. Magnetic media was being used as an auxiliary storage of data. These computers used high level languages for writing computer programs. FORTRAN and COBOL were the languages used.
Third Generation Computers (1966-1976): Integrated Circuits
The third generation computers started in 1966 with incorporation of integrated circuits (IC) in the circuitry. IC is a monolithic circuit comprising a circuitry equivalent to tens of transistors on a single chip of semiconductor having a small area a number of pins for external circuit connections. IBM 360 series computers in this generation had provision for facilitating time sharing and multiprograms also.
These were small size and cost effective computers compared to Second generation computers. Storage capacity and speed of these computers was increased many folds as include user friendly package programs, word processing and remote terminals. Remote terminals could use central computer facilities and get the result, instantaneously.
Fourth Generation Computers (1975-Present): Microprocessors
Fourth Generation Computers were introduced after 1975 and in these computers electronic components were further miniaturized through Large Scale Integration (LSI) techniques Microprocessor which are programmable Ics fabricated using LSI technique are used in these computers. Micro computers were developed by combing microprocessor with other LSI Chips, with compact size, increased speed and increased storage capacity. In recent days, Ics fabricated using VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) techniques are used in Computers. Through this techniques, the storage capacity is increased many folds. Not only that, the speed of these computers is also very high as compared to earlier computers.
During 1980s, some computers called as super computers were introduced in the market. These computers perform operation with exceptionally high speed (approx 100 million operations per sec). This speed is attained by employing number of microprocessors consequently there cost is also very high. These are normally used in very complex application like artificial intelligence etc.
Fifth Generation Computers (Present & Beyond): Artificial Intelligence
Fifth generation computing devices, based on artificial intelligence, are still in development, though there are some applications, such as voice recognition, that are being used today. The use of parallel processing and superconductors is helping to make artificial intelligence a reality. Quantum computation and molecular and nanotechnology will radically change the face of computers in years to come. The goal of fifth-generation computing is to develop devices that respond to natural language input and are capable of learning and self-organization.