Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are both names which can be synonymous with computers. Well, at the very least they’re with modern computers but they were just building on an indisputable fact that came along in the 1800’s and continued to develop throughout time. What was once huge machines that used a variety of room and did only rudimentary (to our standards) work, we now hold inside our hands and of course technology is advancing further all of the time.
So, we go in time, to an Englishman named Charles Babbage who, most say came to be just too early for his ideas. He originated the thought of a programmable computer and as a result of this is known as the daddy of the technology. He invented the initial mechanical computer in 1833 which was an analytical engine. The input of data and programs was to be provided to the equipment through punched cards. The output had a printer, a curve plotter and a bell and it may punch numbers on cards that might be read at a later date. His idea even had an arithmetic logic unit, control flow and integrated memory, which could have been, had it been made, the initial ever design for general use.
Most of the parts for Babbage’s machine must be made manually and unfortunately his idea never reached fruition as the federal government cut his grants and he ran out of money. His son, Henry Babbage did create a simplified version of his dad’s idea though, in 1888 and he successfully demonstrated so it worked in 1906.
All of these ideas made means for the analog computers that used direct mechanical or electrical types of an issue as the foundation for the computation. But, they were not programmable, they weren’t accurate and they weren’t very versatile. Something had to change.
The first programmable electronic computer was ENIAC which was fast and flexible and was completed in 1946. This program was designed by the states of its patch cables and switches. Someone would write a program and then mechanically set it into the equipment with a guide reset of the patch cables and wires. It had been a much cry from what we have today in how of computers as it used 1,800 square feet and weighed a significant 50 tons. Imagine hauling that around in your pocket!
Technology kept progressing and today we can do just about anything from a small device we tote around with us. Incredible. What’s next? Stay tuned!