A Short History of Computers

One of the greatest inventions of the time is obviously the computer. Billions of people use computers in their daily life throughout the world. Throughout decades, computer has evolved from a very expensive and slow device to today’s extremely smart machines with unbelievable processing power.

No single person was credited with the invention of computer, many believe that Konrad Zuse and his Z1 machine was the first in a long line of innovations that gave us the computer of today. Konrad Zuse was a German who was famous for the creation of the first freely programmable mechanical computing device in 1936. Zuse’s Z1 was created with a focus on 3 basic elements that are still necessary in today’s calculators. Later, Konrad Zuse created Z2 and the Z3.

The first of the MARK series computers were being built at Harvard. The MARK I began in 1944 and this computer was huge filling in a room having a size of 55 feet long by 8 feet high. The MARK I could perform a wide variety of calculations. It became a success and was utilized by the US Navy. It was in service till 1959.

The ENIAC computer was one of most important achievements in computing. It was commissioned during World War II and used by the US military. Vacuum tubes were used by this computer instead of electric motors and levers for fast calculations. Its speed was about thousand times faster than any other calculating device during that time. This computer was enormous and had a total cost of $500,000. The ENIAC was in operation till 1955.

RAM or Random Access Memory was first introduced in 1964. The first RAM was a metal detector plate positioned close to a vacuum tube which detected the difference in electrical charges. It was an easy way of storing computer instructions.

There were plenty of innovations in the 1940s. The Manchester Baby was developed by Telecommunications Research Establishment. It was the first computer to use a stored program and it went live in 1948. The Manchester MARK I went live in 1951 and showed tremendous progress against computers. Researchers had found that there was a huge chance of development for the computer.

The UNIVAC which stands for Universal Automatic Computer was built by the creators of ENIAC. It was the fastest and most innovative computer capable of handling many computations. It was a masterpiece of its time and was praised by public.

IBM is known for creating the first personal computer widely affordable and available to the people. IBM 701 was the first general purpose computer developed by IBM. The new computer language called FORTRAN was used in the new 701. Other IBM computers also followed like the 704. The IBM 7090 also was a big success and it dominated business computers for the next 20 years. In the late 1970’s and into 1980 IBM developed a personal computer known as the PC. IBM has had a huge influence on the computers used today.

In 1984, the Apple Macintosh was released and Apple computers dominated the market. It was not a quick success. It went into production from January of 1984 to October of 1985.

With the growth of personal computer market in the early and mid 1980s, many companies realized that GUI or Graphical User Interface was user friendly. This led to the development of an operating system called Windows by Microsoft. The first version was called Windows 1.0 and later came Windows 2.0 and 3.0 editions. Microsoft is increasingly popular today.

Today, computers are extremely powerful and more affordable than ever. They have practically infiltrated into every aspect of our lives. It is used as a powerful tool of communication and commerce. The future is computer is tremendous.

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