Historical background of computers, Basic Computer Science

Historical Background

The brief history of the growth of computers is given below:

  1. Abacus:  It was the first mechanical device developed approximately 3,000 years ago, it consists of beads that can slide on wires. Wires represent columns. Right most column is for units, the next is for tens and so on. Various numbers can be represented by pushing appropriate beads. This device could perform simple additions and subtractions.
  2. Pascal Calculating Machine:  In 1642, Pascal devised a calculating machine for calculations. This consisted of a series of wheels having digits of zero to nine around the circumference.
  3. Jacquard Card: This utilized the concept of cards with punched holes. This was used for weaving patterns into fabric using cards with punched holes to guide the warp threads on a loom. This was invented in 1801 by Joseph Marie Jacquard.
  4. Analytical Engine:  In 1833, Charles Babbage developed the concepts for an analytical engine which could perform arithmetic functions on data, reading in from punched cards.
  5. Punched Card: In 1890, Herman Hollerith successfully devised electrical tabulating equipment. A coding scheme which would be punched into cards to represent data was devised by him. Hollerith coding system is used widely even today in the punched card equipment.
  6. Mark-1: Mark-1 was the first general purpose computer developed by Prof. Howard Aiken. It consisted of telephone relays and rotating mechanical wheels. Sequence of instructions were given using a paper tape.
  7. ENIAC: In 1946, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator) was developed. It was a large machine containing 18,000 vacuum tubes, weighed 30 tons, occupied 1,500 sq. ft. space and a small memory of 20 accumulators each capable of storing 10 digits. It did in 1 day what once took 300 days to perform.
  8. UNIVAC: The World’s first commercial data processing machine UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer) of 1951, made by Remington Rand Corporation was installed for and used by the US Bureau of Census. It was used 24 hours a day for 12 years, and also is well known for having predicted the victory of President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1952 elections of the US, thus exposing to the general public the uses and capabilities of electronic computer.


Over the last years, the computer technology has been significantly developing. There has been tremendous reduction in size while storage capacity, speed and reliability have been increasing. 

Posted Date: 9/14/2012 5:02:44 AM | Location : United States

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