History of Computer

History of Computer

Charles Babbage, an English mechanical engineer and polymath, originated the concept of a programmable computer. Considered the “Father of the Computer” , he conceptualized and invented the first mechanical computer in the early 19th century.
This chapter is a brief summary of the history of Computers. It is supplemented by the two PBS documentaries video tapes “Inventing the Future” And “The Paperback Computer”. The chapter highlights some of the advances to look for in the documentaries.
In particular, when viewing the movies you should look for two things:

  • The progression in hardware representation of a bit of data:
    1. Vacuum Tubes (1950s) – one bit on the size of a thumb.
    2. Transistors (1950s and 1960s) – one bit on the size of a fingernail.
    3. Integrated Circuits (1960s and 70s) – thousands of bits on the size of a hand.
    4. Silicon computer chips (1970s and on) – millions of bits on the size of a finger nail.
  • The progression of the ease of use of computers:
    1. Almost impossible to use except by very patient geniuses (1950s).
    2. Programmable by highly trained people only (1960s and 1970s).
    3. Useable by just about anyone (1980s and on).

to see how computers got smaller, cheaper, and easier to use.