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Evolution of Computers

Dr. Lalit Arora
02/12/2016 0 0

The computers we see today, were not always the same. By computers, means anything that is able or helpful in computing. Early computers were mechanical calculators, punching machines etc. Then came ENIAC etc. that digitally computed but were too big. The usage of personal computers started as a hobby among a certain set of people and went on to become something that people cannot live without. Let’s take a look at the journey of a computer from a mechanical abacus to present day ultra fast computers.

The First Computer

Around 3000 B.C. The Mesopotamians unknowingly laid the foundation of computer era. They invented the earliest form of Bead-&-Wire counting machine known as Abacus. The Chinese improved above the Abacus so that they can calculate fast.

The Chinese further improved on the above abacus so that calculations could be done more easily. Even today abacus is considered as an apt tool for young children to do calculations.

Napier’s Logs and Bones

John Napier (1550-1617) developed the idea of logarithms. He used logs to transform multiplication problem to addition problem. Napier’s logs later became the basis for a well-known invention, The Computation Machine Known as Slide-Rule (Invented in 1662) Napier also devices set of numbering rods known as ‘Napier’s Bones’. He could perform both multiplication and division using these ‘Bones’.

Pascal’s adding Machine

Blaise Pascal, a French Mathematician, invented a Machine in 1662 made up of gears which was used for adding numbers quickly. This machine was known as Adding Machine (also known as Pascaline) and was capable of addition and subtraction. In worked on clockwork mechanism principle. The Adding Machine consisted of numerous toothed wheels having unique position value. The rotation wheels controlled the Addition and Subtraction operation. This Machine was capable carry-transfer automatically.

Leibnitz Calculator

Gottfried Leibnitz a German Mathematician, improved the adding Machine and constructed a new machine in 1671 that was able to perform multiplication and division as well. This Machine performed multiplication through repeated addition of numbers. Leibnitz’s machine used stepped cylinder each with nine teeth of varying lengths instead of wheels as was used by Pascal.

Jacquard’s Loom

Joseph Jacquard manufactured punched cards at the end of American Revolution and used them to control looms in 1801. Thus the entire control weaving process was automatic. The entire operation was under a program’s control. With the historic invention of punched cards, the era of Storing and Retrieving information started that greatly influenced the later invention and advancements.

Babbage’s Difference Engine

Charles Babbage, a professor of mathematics, developed a machine called Difference engine in the year 1882. This machine was expected to calculate logarithmic tables to high degree of precision. The difference engine was made to calculate various mathematical functions. The machine was capable of polynomial evolution by finite difference and its operation was automatic multi stop operation.

Babbage’s Analytical Engine

In 1833, Charles Babbage started designing an analytical engine which was to become a real ancestor of modern day computer. With the methodical design of his analytical engine, Babbage meticulously established the basic principles on which today’s computer work. The Analytical Engine was capable to perform all four arithmetic operation as well as comparison, it had a number of features starting to those which are in today’s computer. He included the concept of central processor, Memory, Storage Area and Input/output Devices in his design. The Two revolutionary innovation incorporated in analytical Engine where comparisons and modifications of stored information. The first innovation enabled the machine to compare quantities and then decide which of the Instruction sequence to be followed. The second permitted the result of calculation to change numbers and instructions already stored in machine. Owing to the lack of technology of the time, the Analytical engine was never built. Its Design remained conceptual. His great inventions of Difference Engine and Analytical Engine earned Charles Babbage the title “FATHER OF MODERN COMPUTERS”-a fitting Tribute to him.


Professor Howard Aiken (1900-1973) in U.S constructed in 1943 an electromechanical computer named “MARK-I” which could multiply two 10 digit numbers in 5 second-a record at that time. MARK-I was the first machine which could perform according to pre-programed instructions automatically without any manual interface. This was the first operational general purpose computer. 

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