The history of computers began long ago with the initial aim to solve numerical calculations. Now, they have developed a lot and can deal with even more serious number-crunching problems.
A computer is an incredible machine which can be programmed to automatically do sequences of logical or arithmetic operations. A complete system of a computer includes peripheral equipment, hardware and operating system (software). Nowadays, we use computers for our daily life such as working, playing games or listening to music. The brief timeline below will show you how computers evolved so drastically from their humble beginnings to the modern machines like today.
The first giant computer was called ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator), which was created by J.Presper Eckert and John W.Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania. The machine weighed 30 tons with the measurement of 50 x 30 feet. It needed a word of 10 decimal digits and used over 2000 vacuum tubes that took up more than 165 square feet of the floor space. However, it had only 1 divider-square rooter, 1 multiplier, punched-card output and input and 20 adders.
The first gaint computer was called ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator), which was created by J.Presper Eckert and John W.Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania/ Ph: computerhope.com
Progresson of Hardware
The 2 incredible devices invented in the 1950’s improved the field and set in motion the computers. The first one was the transistor, which was invented by William Shockley, Walter Brattain and John Bardeen of Bell Labs in 1947. It was expected to oust the days of vacuum tubes in radios, computers as well as many other electronics.
In reality, the vacuum tube used a huge amount of electricity to make the filament hot inside the tube until it turned red. Afterwards, the electrons were released and controlled by other elements within the tube. Nonetheless, vacuum tubes were not efficient. They needed to be regularly replaced and also required lots of spaces. At that time, computers contained 18000 tubes inside and the price for those devices was very expensive. With the invention of the transistors, all these issues were solved easily.
However, the transistors also had their problems. They also needed to be soldered together. Thus, a fault in the complicated connections among different individual transistors could cause a fault in wiring.
In 1958, Jack St. Clair Kilby of Texas Instruments solved that problem by producing the first integrated chip’s circuit, which was a collection of many tiny connected transistors. Therefore, this could nullify the need for soldering together the huge sums of transistors. Moreover, it could also save much space and increase the machine’s speed.
Mainframes to PCs
In the 1960s, mainframe computers were introduced to the large industries. IBM was the unquestioned leader of the market in selling these large, error-prone, expensive and difficult to use machines.
In the early 1970s, personal computers exploded with the first Apple II introduced by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in San Francisco’s First West Coast Computer Fair. The device used color graphics, boasted BASIC programming language and contained more than 400 character memory with the cost of $1298. Users could store data and programs on the audio-cassette recorder. Before the fair came to an end, the manufacturers had secured around 300 orders for their products.
In the meanwhile, the TRS-80, a home computer invented by Tandy Radio Shack was also introduced. It included 60000 character memory and a disk drive to keep data and programs.
Later on, IBM also decided to work on the Acorn, also known as the IBM PC. This was the first computer for the home market in which most components came from outside of IBM.
By 1984, IBM and Apple released new models including the 286-AT and the first generation Macintosh. One worked well with applications like Microsoft Word, a spreadsheet and Lotus 1-2-3 while the other came with a mouse and GUI, a graphical user interface.
In short, computers have developed a lot since their birth in previous centuries. Now people have their own powerful home computers with personal graphics workstations. The power of their machines are way higher than that of the giant ENIAC. In the future, it is expected that computers will be upgraded better and better to suit people’s increasing needs.