|There are many views that propose the formal invention of computer. Factually, the device was not made overnight and there were many additions done by different scientists from time to time. As we say, ‘Rome was not built in a day’, so is the case with the invention of computer. It took efforts of several programmers, designers and researchers to invent the machine we today recognise as computer. In fact the preceding machines were nowhere near the present day computer in terms of speed, storage and size. From conception of an idea to develop a machine that can calculate faster than any human being to assimilating various components required to perform lightning fast calculations, a lot has happened over the couple of centuries. It therefore becomes imperative to delve into the pages of history before we conclude who really invented the computer.
The term computer traces back to early seventeenth century when it was first used to refer to human capable of performing swift calculations. By the end of nineteenth century people realised that machines are capable of performing quicker and better calculations than any human being.
It was Charles Babbage who first thought of making a machine that was capable of calculating and creating copies of the results. This was called the Difference Engine.
Ada Lovelace, who is regarded as the first computer programmer, helped Babbage in developing the Difference Engine. Due to lack of funds this machine was never fully developed.
Later in 1837, Charles Babbage designed the Analytical Engine that was fitted with Arithmetic Logic Unit and memory. This was the beginning of the machine to be used as a computer but again this machine was left half- completed. His son, Henry Babbage completed a part of the machine in 1910 and performed fundamental computations with it.
Konrad Zuse of Germany developed the first binary programmable machine between1936 to 1938. It was considered to be the first actual working computing machine or the modern computer.
Around this time, in 1936, came the Turing machine projected by Alan Turing. This machine could print symbols in a synchronised manner through a succession of logical commands. This machine formed the basics of the computers that we currently use today.
Professor John Vincent Atanasoff and his student Cliff Berry began developing Atanasoff – Berry Computer (the ABC) in 1937 in Iowa State College and toiled on the machine till 1942. This was an electrical machine installed with vacuum tubes to perform calculations digitally. In addition to this, the devise worked on Boolean logic and followed Binary number system though the processing unit was absent. Hence the first digital computer was born.
Few years later, J.Presper Eckert and John Mauchly invented ENIAC during 1943 to 1946 at the University of Pennsylvania. The machine weighed massively due to thousands of vacuum tubes fitted in it. Despite its weight and enormity in size the device was functional and was adjudged as the first digital computation device. However, in 1973, the US Federal court ruled out this device as the first digital computer and instead proclaimed Atanasoff invented ABC machine as the first digital computer.
Depending upon the application of computers in performing calculations , American researcher Atanasoff is recognised as the inventor of the present day computer but if we consider the actual hardware that goes in to building an efficient functional machine then ENIAC is also not far behind. All said and done, Alan Turing’s concept of a practical universal machine that could perform multiple tasks cannot be ignored. He envisioned the feasibility of the devise in and beyond the field of mathematics.
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