how much do you know about the history of the computer? do you have any idea, for example, what the first PC was? do you know who invented it? OK, don’t worry, you’re not the only person who doesn’t know that information.
Personal computer users are accustomed to its constant advances, and we find it increasingly necessary to have a PC in our lives. however, very few people know about the beginning of computers.
The history of the computer, from its first models to the types of computers we know today, has a long and interesting history that we will tell you about in this article. join us!
Background of the computer
The history of the computer has its origins much earlier than we think. Today’s computers are machines that, thanks to processes such as Big Data Analytics, can process thousands of data in just seconds. However, the first antecedents of computers were improvised elements that arose due to the need to make certain tasks easier for man .
Determining a single creator and the first example of a computer is a bit imprecise because, to tell the truth, the history of the computer consists of various contributions and collaborations by different referents. Each contribution, no matter how primitive, was an important part of the genesis of the computer.
Invention of transistors
A factor that strongly influenced the history of the computer is the invention of transistors in 1947, created by Bell Laboratories in the U.S. These devices are electrical switches made of solid materials and without the need for vacuum.
This discovery was fundamental to the manufacture of the first microchips, and allowed the transition from electrical to electronic devices. The first integrated circuits (i.e. chips) appeared in 1958, the result of the efforts of Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce. The former received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000 for this discovery.
Other inventions that influenced the creation of the computer
At the beginning of the history of the computer, we can highlight other inventions that began to emerge due to the definite need of man to automate certain operations, especially if we are talking about calculations. To think of the first sketches and pioneers in the evolution of computers, we go back to the year 4,000 BC.
So what were the inventions that heralded the invention of the first computer? In addition to transistors, the following inventions were major influences:
abacus: yes, that element so well known to all, is part of the history of the computer and was one of the first creations that emerged to facilitate man’s calculation tasks in the year 4000 BC.
Pascal’s machine: the mathematician Blaise Pascal created a system of gears to solve arithmetic calculations.
Differential calculating machine: in 1822, Charles Babbage, English mathematician and scientist, produced the first differential calculating machine. However, twelve years later, Babbage marked a before and after in the history of computing with the invention of an analytical machine capable of the four arithmetic operations and of storing up to 1,000 50-digit numbers in a memory.
Turing Machine: In the history of the computer, Alan Turing is considered one of the fathers of computer science. In 1936, Turing created the first machine capable of storing and processing virtually infinite information and marked a major milestone in the timeline of computer history.
The first computer in history
We’ve all seen a movie about World War II, right? Well, in case you didn’t know, the first generation of computers is contextualized in these times due to the need to decode the transmissions of the opposing sides. Thus, the first electromechanical computer designed by Harvard University was born in 1944
Very different from what we know today, the first computer could occupy an entire room. Imagine that it was a computer 15 meters long and 2.5 meters high, made up of 760,000 parts, 800 kilometers of cables and 420 control switches. isn’t the evolution of the history of the computer into today’s computers incredible?
The first commercial computer
In 1951, after so many precedents, the first commercial electronic computer in the history of the computer appeared , considered part of the first and second generation of computers. The Ferranti Mark I was created in Manchester and had an index of registers and integrated word reading. A month later, it was replicated in the United States, and the UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer) was created, the first computer in the history of the computer designed for use in administration and business.
First programming language
FORTRAN was created in 1953 by IBM programmers, led by John Backus. Initially, it was created for the IBM 704 computer.
According to Hipertextual, FORTRAN was the first high-level language that allowed programming in a way more similar to human language. This language “introduced the concept of a compiler, which made it possible to translate entire programs for different machines, something that was previously done by hand”.
The first modern computer
The world’s first computer, considered one of the closest antecedents to computers as we know them today, appeared in 1968 and was the brainchild of American inventor Douglas Engelbart.
In the history of the computer, this first computer prototype had a mousse and a graphical user interface, and its demonstration lasted approximately 100 minutes. Engelbart presented new concepts that inaugurated the development of modern computing: videoconferencing, hyperlinks, network collaboration, digital text editing and the mouse.
Source: Feature Co
The third and fourth generation of computers
Size and efficiency began to improve after 1968, with the appearance of integrated circuits, composed of silicon chips. This breakthrough made it possible to reduce the size of computers, accelerate their efficiency, reduce power consumption and prevent their temperature from rising while they were running. this is a great moment in the history of the computer!
By 1971, improvements in computers began to emerge , ushering in the fourth generation of computer history. In this instance, the most important thing was the integration of the microprocessor that joined integrated circuits in a single block. In this way, it was possible to advance towards the development of personal computers or, well known as PCs, and thanks to this, there began the infinite change in the way of working and living that we know and experience today.
In addition, at this moment in the history of computers, there was also a revolution in the development of software and hardware.
The computer of the 20th and 21st century
In contrast to the beginnings of computer evolution, since the 1990s, the history of the computer has been transformed by leaps and bounds. But why were so many continuous and unstoppable advances generated, compared to the slow development of early generation computers?
The answer to this has to do mainly with the fact that innovations on the software and hardware side grew at an unimaginable speed thanks to the onset and development of technology and artificial intelligence.
The fifth generation of computers
Although the fifth and sixth generation do not have a very definite beginning and end in the history of the computer, it was from the 1990s, and with the emergence of the internet and artificial intelligence, that the large companies in charge of manufacturing computers began to mark enormous advances in microelectronics and software.
“Artificial intelligence is a discipline formalized decades ago, it is the field of knowledge that is responsible for building “intelligent beings”. It is considered the study of intelligent agents or any system that can perceive or interpret its environment, and take actions that lead it to fulfill objectives. We interact with these types of entities every day, for example, software with which you can play chess virtually, is a type of artificial intelligence.”
It is right around this time that laptops, storage devices and computers capable of performing tasks simultaneously and with an efficiency that impressed.
The sixth generation of computers
The sixth generation has a somewhat diffuse beginning; we could place its start after the 90’s, but it continues until today. There is no doubt that the advances in the history of the computer were many until reaching today’s result. However, it is precisely because of the quantity and, above all, the quality of the modifications that have been made that computers occupy such a transcendental place in our daily lives.
For example, certain areas of work such as graphic design or architecture depend on the capabilities and efficiency of the computers used, and this is why we can find computers with various operating systems such as Apple or Windows, capable of carrying out enormous tasks and in an admirable time.
First storage devices
The first devices that allowed the storage of computer data were Floppy diskettes. these were squares of flexible plastic with a magnetizable material in the middle that allowed data to be recorded and retrieved; something, without a doubt, that had a huge impact on the history of computers.
According to Hardzone.es, “the origin of the floppy disk can be found in the IBM System/370, a family of IBM mainframes that were launched in 1970 and where one of the challenges they wanted to solve was the introduction of programs in a format that was both fast and cheap”.
The types of floppy diskettes that existed in the origins of computers were the following:
8-inch floppy disks: they were the first to appear and had a capacity between 79 and 512 kbytes.
5 ¼-inch floppy diskettes: they were similar to the 8-inch diskettes but of a smaller size, and stored between 89 and 360 kbytes.
3 ½-inch floppy disks: these were created in the 1980s. They were rigid, attractively colored and smaller. They had a storage capacity of between 720 and 1440 kbytes.
Over the years, floppy disks were improved and new models appeared, and then, at the end of the 1980s, the compact disc (CD) was born, which meant that floppy disks were replaced by a product with higher speed and better data retrieval capacity.
Nowadays, all these devices have become obsolete and have been replaced by pendrives or external memories, of varied capacity, high speed and portability. Undoubtedly, to this day, the history of the computer is still being written thanks to the new inventions that are still emerging.
First computer networks
Another important milestone in the history of computers was the birth of ARPANET, a computer network created in 1968 by the United States Department of Defense.
ARPANET functioned as a rapid platform for information exchange between educational and government institutions, probably for military purposes. This network developed over the years and became one of the foundations for the creation of the Internet.
Now we come to the end of the journey through the history of the computer, a timeline of events that were essential to understanding the technology as we use it today. Although, as expected, future milestones will continue to appear that will mark a before and after in the history of the computer.
see you next time!