Timeline Of Computer History

bloatdecorumSoftware and s/w Development

Oct 30, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)


Timeline Of Computer History

By: Lily Du

The calculator

Blaise Pascal’s machine, La Pascaline, could add and subtract. It had a set of eight
gears that worked together. La
ascaline never became popular. It broke very often
and Pascal was the only one who could fix it. It was also very slow, and clerks were
frightened of it

scared that it would replace them at their jobs. Pascal was later
famous for math and philosophy, yet was still honored with a computer language
named after him for his role in computer history.

In 1676, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, built
the Leibniz Calculator. It could add, subtract,
multiply, divide and figure square roots. It was
never manufactured, but almost every
mechanical calculator in the next 150 years was
built in a similar way.

La Pascaline

The Leibniz

The Weaving Machine

In 1801, Joseph Marie
Jacquard built a “programmed”
machine for the weaving
industry. This machine greatly
cut down the time and effort
that it took to weave intricate
designs. Jacquard built a loom
that “read” sets of heavy
cardboard punched cards. All
of the cards for this design
were linked together like a
belt. As they passed over a set
of rods on the loom, they
guided the parts of the loom to
make the design.

Jacquard’s “programmed” Loom

The Story Of Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage was a professor at
Cambridge University (England). In his work
he often used tables of numbers that were
already figured, such as square roots. These
tables were filled with mistakes

made by
the clerks who figured the numbers and
those who copied them. This motivated
Babbage to come up with something that
could compute and print the tables exactly.
In 1822, a model of his first idea had been
born. However, he wasn’t able to build a
sized machine because parts for the
larger machine were almost impossible to
make in Babbage’s time. Even the smallest
mistakes in the brass, mechanics and
pewter rods made the machine not function

Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine

Charles Babbage and the

Analytical Machine

Charles’ idea for this machine was amazingly like a computer. It would
read a program from punched cards, figure and store the answers to
problems, and print the answers on paper. Unfortunately, Babbage died
before the machine was completed, but his son made a model from
Babbage’s notes and drawings. Thanks to Babbage’s ideas, the model
worked and he is now known as the Father of Computers.

A model of Babbage’s Analytical
Machine, put together by his son.

Lady Lovelace


Byron, also known as
Lady Lovelace, was a genius in math.
Intrigued by Babbage’s work, she
translated an article about the
Analytical Engine from French to
English. She contributed her own
important notes about how the
machine should work. Lady Lovelace
also aide Babbage with “programs” for
the Analytical Engine. Many of her
ideas are similar to those used in
today’s computer programs.
Unfortunately, she too never lived to
see her ideas used. Her work has long
outlived her. She is called “the first
programmer,” and in her honor, a
programming language used chiefly by
the U.S government was named

her honor.

Herman Hollerith

In 1887, the people at the U.S Census Bureau had
finally finished counting the 1880 census. Though they
were a little late, for by then the information was so
out of date that it had little meaning, what would
happen in the 1890 census, when the population was
even greater? Using their slow methods, it would be
time to take the 1900 census before the 1890 census
was counted. The Census Bureau held a contest to find
a faster way to count and record, and that’s where
Herman comes in. He won the contest, and managed
to build a Tabulating Machine that read and sorted
data from punched cards. The holes punched in the
cards matched each person’s answers to questions. The
tabulator read and punched cards as they passed over
tiny brushes. Each time a brush found a hole, it
completed an electric circuit

which then caused
special counting dials to increase the amount of data
for that answer.

Hollerith’s Tabulating


International Business Machines

Thanks to Hollerith’s tabulating machine, it took less than three years to count the 1890
census, even with the 13 million more people since 1880. Happy with his success, Hollerith
formed the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. The company made machines for census
takers in western Europe and Canada. Hollerith sold his company in 1911, which later
became International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).

The First Calculator

Howard Aiken of Harvard University started working on a multi
purpose machine that

could be programmed to do many computing jobs. In 1944, he had finally finished the

Mark I, the very first automatic calculator. It was similar to the Analytical Engine that

Charles Babbage had planned many years before. It was not a true computer, because it
worked by mechanical methods, not electronic. Unfortunately, the Mark I was outdated
before it could be finished.

The Mark I, the very first
automatic calculator


The ABC was built by John

and his helper, Clifford Berry. The ABC
was the first electronic computer

Titled the ABC for
computer. It was unusual for two reasons, it used vacuum tubes to store
and count data; secondly, all data fed into the ABC were coded using binary
notation. Therefore, any number or letter could be written in a series of
zeros and ones. They stood for the two states of electricity

on or off,
flowing or not flowing. The vacuum tubes were quick, and the binary digits
kept the data simple. Though the machine was incredible, it could only do
special work.

Berry Computer




Eckert created the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And
Calculator). It was huge, and had 18000 vacuum tubes that did its work. In twenty seconds,
ENIAC could do a math problem that would have taken forty hours for one person to finish.
Though, it did seem too good to be true. Each time it used a new program, operators had to
rewire it and reset its switches by hand, which could take several hours and there were often

It took several people to
operate the ENIAC.

Computers Through the Ages

The First Generation (1951

The first generation of computers began in 1951, when the first
commercial computer was sold to the U.S Census Bureau. Another
similar to it was installed at general Electric’s appliance Park in
Louisville, Kentucky. They were UNIVAC I computers, short for

Automatic Computer. They were developed by

and Eckert (who build the ENIAC.) First generation computers
were colossal, slow, expensive and often very undependable.
They used thousands of vacuum tubes which took up a lot of
space and gave off a great deal of heat. To prevent overheating,
they had to be kept in rooms with special air conditioning. When
a tube burned out, a lot of time was wasted hunting for it. Writing
a program was difficult and errors were very common. Then,
everything was changed in 1952, when Rear Admiral Grace
Murray Hopper (of the U.S navy) and her staff wrote a set of
language translator programs. These programs translated words
and symbols into binary numbers. As a result, programmers could
then write programs in codes that used words and symbols rather
than ones and zeros

which meant less errors and confusion.


Computer (UNIVAC)

Second Generation (1959

In the late 1950s, transistors began to replace vacuum tubes in computers. Similar to
vacuum tubes, transistors hold tiny circuits. Transistors were made of different materials and
they conducted electricity faster and better than vacuum tubes. They were also much
smaller and gave off less heat. Second
generation computers had better primary memory
than those before them. They could send data to storage such as magnetic tapes and disks
outside the main computer unit. All these new developments led to real
time computing,
which meant that events could be input and processed as they happened. Therefore, many
different jobs could be done by computer.

Transistors clustered
together on a circuit card

Third Generation (1965


of Texas was working on integrated circuits. He discovered a way to put several circuits on a
tiny chip

which is where we get the name “integrated circuit”.

started off slow, but soon a single
silicon chip less than one
eighth inch square could hold sixty
four complete circuits. The computers of the
third generation used less power, cost less, and were smaller and much more dependable than earlier
machines. Although they became smaller, their primary memories increased by putting memory on chips.
During the 1960s, minicomputers were improved and commonly used for a variety of small jobs. They
were smaller, had less storage space, and cost less though they could do many of the same things as large
computers. Remote terminals are devices placed some distance away from a central computer and linked
to it through cables such as telephone lines. They became very common as the industry began to grow.

A third
generation minicomputer

Fourth Generation (1971

In the fourth generation, engineers continued to fit more
circuits onto a single chip in large
scale integration, making
computers even faster. Ted Hoff, and engineer at Intel
Corporation, thought he could make one chip that could be
programmed to do many jobs. This idea resulted in the
microprocessor or “computer on a chip”. This chip did all
the computing and logic work of a computer. The
microprocessor was made to originally be used in
calculators and now computers. However, it led to the
creation of personal computers, or micro computers. For
the first time in 1977, a person could walk into a store and
buy a low
priced personal computer (offered by Radio
Shack). The success of micro computers led to a flood of
software. The early programs were games, then
educational programs. A single microprocessor based on
scale integration is more powerful than any of
the 1950s computers. These days, everything is being
developed so quickly, who knows what will be next.

Ted Hoff, an engineer
at Intel Corporation