Home Uncategorized Everything You Want to Know About Evolution and History of Computers

Everything You Want to Know About Evolution and History of Computers

Nowadays, computers are everywhere. They are used in almost every sector. We can do anything through computers as we can search for a job, we can order/ purchase items etc. we used them in education, entertainment, defence etc. But this is not the instant result of technology. These computer technologies are the results of a thousand years of human intellect and experiments. We have to appreciate these technological miracles, for that, we have to understand the evolution and history of computers. 

Here we are going to cover these topics

  1. Introduction
  2. History of Computers
  3. Different Generation of Computers
  4. History of computers in India
  5. Conclusion
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction to Computers

Computers are the electronic devices which take input command from the user and give processed data as output. A computer is derived from a Latin word computarewhich means to “to calculate”.

There are different types of computer in today’s world. Computers have become so advanced that today scientists have built supercomputers and quantum computers which have very high computational power and solve multiple tasks at the same time with great accuracy.

History of Computers

The history of computers is very interesting. In the past, people used to do calculations using stones and bones. So, to make computing easy and effective they started to invent devices. As a result, the concept of the computer came up.

During the timeline of the history of computers, we can find various type of computers. Here we are going to learn about them one by one.

1. Abacus

An abacus is a calculating device and considered as the first computer in the history of computers. It was simply made of a wood frame with beads sliding on the wires and It contains two beads on the upper deck and five beads on the lower deck. We can do a simple mathematical calculation like addition and subtraction with this. Thus, Merchant used them for the calculation by moving beads up and down.

A picture is showing an abacus which is considered as the first computer in the history of computer.

2. Napier’s Bone:

John Napier invented Napier’s Bone in 1617. It was a small instrument made of 10 rods with the strips of bones and It was used for calculation of complex multiplications.

Multiplication tables were embedded in the rods, by using them big multiplication can be reduced in addition and division can be reduced to subtraction form which helps in further calculations.

This is the image of Napier Bone
Napier Bone

3. Slide Rule:

In 1620, an English mathematician, William Oughtred had invented the first analog device called slide Rule. In this device, the concept of logarithm was used. Hence, this device used for computing division and multiplication. It has two marked rulers, one of which could slide over the other. If they once properly aligned with each other then it would give the required product and quotient.

This is the image of slide rule.
slide rule

4.  Pascaline:

Blaise Pascal invented Pascaline in 1642, mechanical calculator which can have dials to deal with the number up to 9,999,999 and It made with the arrangement of wheels, gears and windows for the display of numbers but It could only add and subtract numbers.

This is the image of Pascline.

5. Stepped Reckoner:

It is a mechanical calculator, invented by the famous German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz in 1694. This device could perform addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Also, it can do the calculation of the square root. It was invented on the same principle as Pascal’s mechanical calculator, except that there was a system of shift mechanism, operating through a series of the slider.

This is the image of Stepped Reckoner.
Stepped Reckoner

6. Jacquard’s Loom:

It is a mechanical loom, invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1901. The idea of jacquard was to use punched cards to control the weaving patterns. The textile industry had used this computer. Consequently, It gave the idea for the modern mechanism on the on punched cards and the use of binary number system.

This is the image of Jacquard loom.
Jacquard Loom

7. Difference and Analytical Engine:

In the history of computers, these computers had given a great contribution to modern computers’ development. In 1822, a mathematician at Cambridge University, Charles Babbage, demonstrated a working model of a mechanical computer called difference engine. It was designed to calculate mathematical tables mechanically.

However, Babbage shifted to another project to make an analytical engine so that this project had cancelled. An analytical computer could solve particular problems since we can program it manually. Moreover, this machine had five units: input, store, process, control and output just like in modern days computers and it also works on a binary number system. Today’s modern computers also work on a binary number system.

The image shows Difference engine in left and Analytical engine in right. These computers have a great importance in the development and history of computers.
Difference and Analytical Engine

8. Tabulating Machine:

Dr Herman Hollerith with co-operation with the U.S Census Bureau had invented this machine. It uses the method of card punching to store and back-up data which turned out to be the very successful method in that time. Later, Dr Hollerith established a company called Tabulating Machine Company. The same company we know today as IBM (International Business Machines).

This is the image of Tabulating Machine.
Tabulating Machine

9. Harvard Mark I:

Now, we have entered in the genre of a modern computer. This computer is the first electrical computer and Howard Aiken in collaboration with IBM had made it from 1937- 1944. It was 8 feet high, 51 feet long and weigh 5 tons. Especially, It was capable to perform addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Also, It is famous as the Harvard-IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC).  

This is the image of Harvard Mark-I.
Harvard Mark- I

10.  Atanasoff Berry Computer:

In between 1938-42, Dr John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford E. Berry had made this computer and it had used 45 vacuum tubes for internal logic. Likewise, the capacitor is for storing data. Furthermore, It was the first computing machine which took the idea of a binary system, memory and logic circuits in the history of computers.

This is the image of Atanasoff Berry Computer.
  Atanasoff Berry Computer

11. ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator):

Eckert and Mauchly had made this computer in 1946 which contained 18000 vacuum tubes, 7200 crystal diodes. Also, it contained 1500 relays, 70000 resistors, 10000 capacitor and around 5 millions hand-soldered joints. As well as, It consumed about 160 KW of power and it weighed nearly 30 tons. Moreover, in this computer, input and output had given by IBM card reader IBM card punch.

This is the image of ENIAC computer.
ENIAC Computer

12. EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer):

It was one of the earliest electronic computers. John Mauchly and J.P had made this in 1952. It was the first electronic computer to use the stored-program concept. It had almost 6000 vacuum tubes and 12000 diodes and it consumed 56 kW of power. similarly, It covered 490 sq.ft area and weighed 7850 kg. Furthermore, It was a binary serial computer with automatic addition, subtraction, multiplication, programmed division and automatic checking with an ultrasonic serial memory and It has a capacity of 1,000 44-bit words.

This is the image of EDVAC .
EDVAC Computer

13.  EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer):

Maurice Wilkes and his colleagues at Cambridge University had invented this computer in 1949 which can use for calculation and it could perform about 700 additions and 200 multiplication per second. Most importantly It was the first computer to run a graphical game. Furthermore, vacuum tubes had used on it for memory delay lines and for logic derated. As a result, It ran its first programs on 6 May 1949 when it calculated a table of square numbers and list of prime numbers.

This is the image of EDSAC .
EDSAC Computer

14.  UNIVAC( Universal Automatic Computer):

In the history of computers, this computer was the first general-purpose computer and John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly had developed it in 1951. It was used in business application. Also, It was 15 feet long, 8 feet high and 5 tons in weight. For data input and output, magnetic tape had used. 

This is the image of UNIVAC.
UNIVAC Computer

The history of the computer does not stop here. It goes until today’s’ modern days computers. UNIVAC was the first commercial computer. Meanwhile, After UNIVAC, in the period of time many commercial computers like IBM 5100, Scelbi & Mark-8- Atelier, Radio sack’s TRS-80 etc. came on the market. Subsequently, lots of technological changes have come on these computers. So, many new components have discovered and used on the computer to make them more reliable, faster and more functional. Later on, In the 1975 Microsoft was established and in 1976 Apple was founded, which are the great computer giant in today’s world. 

Different Generation of Computers

Since, the computers and their working mechanism have been changing throughout the history of computers, to acknowledge the changes in modern computers, we have classified them in term of their generation. Each generation of computers has something new and extra, so their efficiency has increased generation to generation. Since, the first digital computer in 1945, the historic development of computer can be classified into five generations. So, these five generations of computers show how tremendous evolutions have happened in the history of computers. Moreover, here we are going to discuss them with their features.

info graphic showing different generation of computers

1. First Generation computers(1946- 1958)

In the history of computers, the computer of this generation was marked by the use of vacuum tubes as their main component. Although, these computers are large in size, weight, and were unreliable from the present computer. They required regular maintenance due to poor technology. Mark-I, ENIAC, UNIVAC and EDVAC ae the major examples. They used to be very slower than other generations computer and their cost was very high. Operating speed was measured in terms of milliseconds and machine language was used on them.

This is the image of VACUUM TUBES.
Vacuum Tubes

2. Second Generations Computers(1959-1964)

In the history of computers, this generation of computers had used transistor instead of vacuum tubes as a major processing component. They were much more reliable, smaller in size and generate less heat than first-generation computers. The processing speed was measured in microseconds and assembly language was used to program these computers. IBM 1401, Hewlett Packard 150II, IBM 1410, IBM 1420 etc are some examples of second-generation computers. 

This is the image of transistor.

3. Third Generation Computers(1965-1974):

In these computers, IC(integrated circuit) was used instead of transistors. IC is a small piece of semiconductor usually silicon. You can check our blog on an integrated circuit to know more about it. Also, these computers are faster, less in size. The speed of this computer increased to picosecond. Further, These computers started to use high-level languages. Also, magnetic disks were started as secondary storage devices. IBM 360, UNIVAC 1108 and HP 2100 are some examples of this generation computers. 

This is the image of IC (Integrated Circuit).
IC (Integrated Circuits)

4. Fourth Generations Computers(1975-1990):

In the history of computers, these computers are marked by the use of VLSIC (Very Large Scale Integrated Circuit). Hence, Computers had started using a microprocessor in which the Arithmetic Logic Unit(ALU), Control Unit(CU), and Memory Unit(MU) could successfully integrate into one single chip. Hence, it made them more powerful and smaller in size. Also, they became cheaper in the prize. They became more reliable and highly accurate. Operation speed increased beyond picosecond. Apple-I, Apple-II, IBM 80286, IBM 80386, IBM 80486 etc. are some of the examples of this generation computers. 

This is the image of Large scale Integrated Circuit.
Large scale Integrated Circuit

5. Fifth Generation Computers(1991 onward):

Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry had initiated the fifth-generation computer system project in 1982. Especially, this generation of computers uses the concept of artificial intelligence (AI). Although innovation is going on in this generation of computers. As a result, we already have achieved a lot in AI and robotics.

This generation computers use Ultra Large Scale Integrated Circuits(ULSIC) and more number of CPUs for better performance. Similarly, programming language like PROLOG and Mercury is using in this generation computers. All moderns days computers are their examples. 

This is the image of Sophia a humanoid robot.
Sophia a humanoid robot

In short, technology is developing and being more innovative day by day and the future of computer technology is very broad. Know more about the technology of the computer. Also, new innovations are happening from day today. Thus, It is sure that in future we will able to see the completely new dimension of computer technology. Further, we are gaining significance success in supercomputer, quantum computer and robotics. Our future in the computer is obviously very bright.

History of Computers in India:

In the history of computers, India had brought its first computer in1952 in Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. That was an analog computer which can solve 10 * 10 matrix easily. In the same period of time in Indian Science Institute(ISI), Bangalore, another analog computer had also used which did general calculation. But the first digital computer installed in India was HEC-2M(Hollerith Electronic Computer) which installed in Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. Thus, In the history of computers in India, this computer is one of the great achievement.

Moreover, It was brought from England at the price of ten lakhs. It was a 16-bit computer with 1024 words of drum memory. Meanwhile, at that time India became the second country to start computing system in Asia after Japan. Until 1980, the number of computers is very less in India but after 1980, the usage of computer increased in the education sector and industrial sectors. In other words, India is getting digital with the use of computers.

The picture is showing the first digital computer of India.
First Digital Computer of India


in conclusion, in this blog, we have discussed the first computer abacus to the latest supercomputers. Also, we have discussed so much about the different of computers and their specialities. For example, first-generation computers use vacuum tubes and fifth-generation computer uses ultra large scale integrated circuits. Moreover, we have also discussed the history of computer in India.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is the father of the computer?

In the history of computers, Charles Babbage is considered as the father of computer since he had first invented the computer which works in the binary computing system and till today all the computers are following same computing method.

2. Who is the first computer programmer?

Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer in the history of computers. She had programmed the first computer algorithm for an early existing computing machine. She had first coded the program in the year 1842.

3. What was the first computer programming language?

The first high-level computer programming language was  Plankalkül which was created by Konrad Zuse in between 1942 and 1945.

4. Who invented the first mouse?

Douglas Engelbar was the inventor of first mouse. He has invented first mouse during 1960s and patented on November 17, 1970.

5. Which was the first personal computer?

The first personal computer was MITS Altair 8800 which is then followed by the IMSAI 8080 and an Altair clone. All were developed in the year 1975. Also, Bill Gates and Paul Allen had written a BASIC compiler for the Altair and formed their company called Microsoft.


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