History of Computing
• The abacus is a calculating machine used
for centuries
• Pascal invented an adding machine in 1673
(for taxes!)
In the 12th century, a Tashkent cleric named
Muhammad ibn Musa Al'Khowarizmi,
wrote about the concept of a written
process to be followed in order to
achieve a goal.
Jacquard’s Loom
• In 1801 Joseph-Marie Jacquard invented an
automatic loom using punched cards for the
control of the patterns in the fabrics
Riots ensued!
Babbage and Byron
• In 1822, Charles
Babbage designed the
“Difference Engine,”
powered by steam and
using gears.
• A decade later,
Babbage and Augusta
Ada Byron worked on
the “Analytical
• A Difference Engine
was finally built in
Herman Hollerith
• The 1880 census took 7 years to tabulate
• In 1890, the census was tabulated in 2 years
due to Hollerith’s invention of a machine
– Punched cards encoding census data
– A card puncher, reader,and sorter
• Hollerith founded the predecessor company
to IBM
Vannevar Bush
• Vannevar Bush at MIT built a large-scale
differential analyzer in the 1920s
• The machine had the capabilities of integration
and differentiation.
The First Computer?
• In the 1930s, John Vincent Atanasoff
developed a machine for the solution of sets
of linear equations in Physics.
• It had an electronic arithmetic unit and a
regenerative, cyclic memory.
• The Patent Office eventually awarded the
patent for the first computer to Atanasoff,
although most had never heard of him.
Atanasoff’s “Computer”
Alan Turing
• In the 1930’s, Alan Turing developed the
idea of a "Universal Machine" capable of
executing any describable algorithm.
• Turing introduced the concept of "symbol
processing,” moving beyond arithmetic
ENIAC 1946
• Developed to calculate
trajectories in WWII (too
• Built across the street at
• First machine using the
Stored Program Concept
• Programmed by rewiring
• The developers of ENIAC left Penn. (in a
patent dispute) to build a computer for the
U.S. Census Bureau
• In 1951, after a financial buyout, the
computer was delivered
• In 1952, UNIVAC predicted the winner of
the U.S. presidential election, but the
television network was afraid to broadcast it
Admiral Grace Hopper
• Worked on UNIVAC
• Invented the “compiler”
• Developed the idea of
“reusable software”
• Led development of the
first high-level
programming language:
• Named computer
problems “bugs” and
called fixing them
The first “bug”.
First Generation Computers
Based on vacuum tubes
Used only machine language
Required experts to program
1947 - The Transistor
High Level Languages and Ideas
• In 1954, John Backus developed FORTRAN, a
high-level language for expressing formulas (in
1957, IBM packaged it for sale)
• In 1957, John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky
convened the first conference on the concept of
“Artificial Intelligence” (AI)
• In 1958, John McCarthy developed LISP, a
language for AI
Second Generation Computers
From vacuum tubes to transistors
High-level languages
More widespread business computing
Time Sharing
• Fernando Corbató, MIT, produced CTSS
(Compatible Time Sharing System) for IBM
in 1961
• Batch processing versus time sharing
Integrated Circuits
• Invented in 1958 by Jack St. Clair Kirby
and Robert Noyce.
• The 1960’s and 1970’s saw increasing
numbers of transistors placed on ICs and
used to make computers
Third Generation Computers
• 1960’s-1970’s
• Integrated circuits
• Timesharing
• In the early 1970’s, Robert Metcalfe worked
Wide area networks (WANS)
Internet protocols (TCP/IP)
Local area networks (LANS)
Personal Computers
• In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
produced the Apple II
– Assembled and ready to go
– Complete with keyboard and monitor
• In 1981, the IBM PC is introduced
Douglas Engelbart
• In 1959 Douglas Engelbart launched the SRI
Augmentation Research Center
hypertext system
outline processor
video conferencing
two-dimensional editing
concept of windows
uniform command syntax
– mixed text-graphic files
– structured document files
– idea processing
Computers for Real People
• 1978 – BASIC
• 1979 – VisiCalc
• 1981 – Alto
– Xerox PARC project
– Graphical user interface
– Mouse
• 1984 - Macintosh
Fourth Generation Computers
VLSI and microprocessors
Personal computing
Fifth Generation
• AI?
• Distributed and ubiquitous computing?
• Wearable computing?
Check Out
• http://www.computer.org/history/

History of Computing