The history of computing and computer inventions traces back to 1791 with the birth of Charles Babbage. Babbage is considered by many to be ‘the father of the computer’. In the 1820’s he created the first mechanical computing device, known as ‘the difference engine’. From those humble beginnings a dizzying array of inventions have sprung forth from the first trackball and floppy disks, to touchscreens and portable video games. 

History-computer has documented the most important inventions below:

Analytical Engine – History of Charles Babbage Analytical Engine

Charles Babbage, 1791-1871. Portrait from the Illustrated London News, Nov. 4, 1871Analytical EngineIt seems a real miracle, that the first digital computer in the world, which embodied in its mechanical and logical details just about every major principle of the modern digital computer, was designed as early as in 1830s. This was done by the...

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Differential Engine – History of Charles Babbage Differential Engine

Charles Babbage, 1791-1871. Portrait from the Illustrated London News, Nov. 4, 1871Differential EngineA numerical table is a tool designed to save the time and labour of those engaged in computing work. The oldest tables which are preserved, were compiled in Babylon in the period 1800-1500 B.C. They were intended to be used for the transformation...

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The History of Louis Couffignal’s Analytical Machine

ON A PROPOSED ANALYTICAL MACHINEby Percy E. LudgateRead February 23. Ordered for Publication March 9. Published April 28, 1909I purpose to give in this paper a short account of the result of about six years’ work, undertaken by me with the object of designing machinery capable of performing calculations, however intricate or laborious, without the...

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The History of Leonardo Torres’s Calculating Machine

Leonardo Torres y QuevedoIn 1893 Leonardo Torres y Quevedo (see biography of Leonardo Torres) presented his first paper to the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences. It was devoted to an algebraic machine, able to calculate the roots of an any-grade equation. The paper was accompanied by a working prototype of the device (see the lower...

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TCP/IP – Complete History of the TCP/IP Protocol Suite

Cerf (left) and Kahn being awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by Former President Bush in 2005TCP/IPThe most popular network protocol in the world, TCP/IP protocol suite, was designed in 1970s by 2 DARPA scientists—Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, persons most often called the fathers of the InternetVinton Gray "Vint" Cerf (born June 23, 1943...

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The History of Christel Hamann’s Differential Engine

History of Computers and Computing, Babbage, Next differential engines, HamannThe differential engine of Christel HamannThe German engineer Christel Hamann (1870-1948) (biography of Hamann) is remarkable figure in the world of mechanical calculators. He is a holder of many patents in this area and the constructor of countless mechanisms and calculators, let's mention only Gauss, Berolina,...

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First chat program of Murray Turoff

History of Computers and Computing, Internet, Birth, First chat program of Murray TuroffFirst chat program of Murray TuroffIn 1971 the Ph.D. in Physics Murray Turoff (born in San Francisco, February 13, 1936), while working in the U.S. Office of Emergency Preparedness (a federally coordinated system that augments the Nation's medical response capability), designed the Emergency...

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The History of George Grant’s Differential Engine

The difference engine of George GrantIn 1869 the American George Barnard Grant (see biography of George Barnard Grant) enrolled the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard, where he obtained his bachelor degree in 1873.Grant's first attempts to construct mechanical calculators were made while at the Lawrence Scientific School. According to his own testimony from 1871, his...

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The First Computer Virus of Bob Thomas (Complete History)

First Computer VirusThe most important feature of a computer virus is his ability to self-replicate (in a sense every self-replicating program can be called a virus). The idea of self-replicating programs can be traced back as early as 1949, when the mathematician John von Neumann envisioned specialized computers or self-replicating automata, that could build copies...

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The History of Pehr-Georg and Edvard Scheutz’s Differential Engine

The differential engine of Pehr-Georg and Edvard ScheutzThe Swede Pehr Georg Scheutz (see biography of Pehr Georg Scheutz) (1785–1873) was a remarkable man—a lawyer, translator, and inventor. When he read a description of the differential engine of Babbage in 1834, he decided to build such a machine. And, despite of the fact, that he wasn't...

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South-Pointing Chariot – Complete History of the South Pointing Chariot

South-Pointing Chariot - Complete History of the South Pointing ChariotSouth-Pointing ChariotThe South Pointing Chariot was an ancient Chinese mechanical-geared wheeled vehicle, used to discern the southern cardinal direction.There are quite a few of legends about inventing of the South Pointing Chariot.1. The Yellow Emperor (Huang Di or Ti) invented the South Pointing Chariot about 2634...

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Caze

History of Computers and Computing, Mechanical calculators, 18th century, CazeThe New Arithmetical Machine of CazeThe adding device of Caze, created sometime around 1696, could be considered as one of the most simple calculating devices, which can be invented, something like a version of the abacus or a simplified version of the Abaque Rhabdologique of Claude...

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Sector

SectorThe Sector (aka compass of proportion), is a ubiquitous calculating instrument, consisting of two rulers of equal length joined by a hinge, which was in use from the end of XVI century until XIX century. Like any other invention, the Sector evolved from prior techniques and devices.Throughout the Renaissance, many attempts were made to develop...

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Astrolabe – Complete History of the Astrolabe

Astrolabe - Complete History of the AstrolabeAstrolabeThe Astrolabe (Greek: ἀστρολάβος astrolabos, from astron (star) and lambanein (to take), i.e. star-taker) is a sophisticated inclinometer, used in the past by astronomers, astrologers, and navigators, mainly for locating and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars, determining local time given local latitude and vice...

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Hillerin

The Machine Arithmetique of Hillerin de BoistissandeauIn 1735 was published the first book of six volume set (the last book was published in 1677) of Jean Gaffin Gallon—Machines et inventions approuvées par l'Academie Royale des Sciences, depuis son établissment jusqu'a présent; avec leur description, in which are described several calculating devices. In one of the...

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Burroughs Adding Machine – History of the Burroughs Adding Machine

Burroughs Adding MachineIn 1875, the young William Seward Burroughs (biography of William Seward Burroughs), son of a mechanic from Rochester, New York, according to the father's desire to choose a gentleman's vocation, entered the Cayuga County National Bank of Auburn as a clerk. There he spent long and tedious hours of adding numbers. He was...

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Arithmometer – History of the Arithmometer of Thomas de Colmar

ArithmometerDuring his lengthy stay with the armies of Marchall Soult, where he needed to perform a great deal of calculations, Charles-Xavier Thomas de Colmar (see biography of Thomas de Colmar) conceived the idea of the arithmometer. This became even more important in his eyes when, in 1819, he was appointed General Manager of the Phoenix...

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Add-A-Mite

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, Add-A-MiteAdd-A-MiteThe Add-A-Mite is a simple mechanical pocket adder (see the lower photo) is made of aluminum, iron and brass with bright blue paint. It was manufactured and sold from the beginning of 1950s by the company Monogram of California, San Francisco. The cursor on the right is...

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Comptometer – Complete History of the Comptometer of Dorr Felt

ComptometerIn 1884, a young machinist, while working with a planer (machine tool used for shaping or surfacing metal and other materials) in Ostrander and Huke machine workshop in Chicago, took note of how a planning machine controlled varying depths of cut and conceived an idea from watching its ratchet feed motion, which was indirectly responsible...

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Tito Gonnella’s Adding Machines

Tito Gonnella's Adding MachinesThe Italian scientist and inventor Tito Filippo Gonnella (1794–1867), professor of mathematics and mechanics at the Florentine Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze, is primarily known as the inventor (in 1824) of one of the first planimeters in the world (see the nearby drawing). The planimeter is an instrument for measuring the...

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Adder

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, AdderThe Adder of Arthur James PostansThe British engineer Arthur James Postans (1867-1940) from South Kensington, London, applied for patent for an adding machine in 1902 in several countries. The British patent №GB190224868 (see the lower patent drawing) and the German patent were granted in 1904. The next...

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Antikythera Mechanism – Complete History of the Antikythera Computer

Antikythera Mechanism - Complete History of the Antikythera ComputerAntikythera MechanismAntikythera (literally "opposite Kythera", Kythera is the next bigger island) is a small Greek island lying on the edge of the Aegean Sea, between Crete and Peloponnese.In April 1900, group of Greek sponge divers, found a wreck of an ancient Roman galleon at a depth of...

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Adix adding machine

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, Adix adding machineAdix adding machineThe first patent of the Adix adder is the German patent №DE173286 from 11.12.1904 (see the lower drawing), granted to the famous Austrian engineer, equipment manufacturer and inventor Josef Pallweber from Salzburg, known mainly as the inventor of the so called jump hour...

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Arithmachine of Henry Goldman

Arithmachine of Henry GoldmanIn Chicago, USA, in 1898 was published a very good book, panorama of existing adding machines — "THE ARITHMACHINIST. A Practical Self Instructor in Mechanical Arithmetic". In its 158 pages the author—Henry Goldman, not only described the existing state-of-the-art in this area, examining many calculating devices, including these of Stephenson, Lightning, Webb,...

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Tate-Layton machine

History of Computers and Computing, Mechanical calculators, 19th century, Tate-Layton machineTate-Layton brothers machineThe first English stepped drum machine (Thomas de Colmar-type arithmometer) was devised in early 1880s by Samuel Tate (1840-1917), an iron worker and mechanical engineer from Sedgley, Staffordshire. Tate made some improvements in the construction of the Colmar's device and patented his improvements...

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Du Bois D. Parmelee’s key adder

History of Computers and Computing, Mechanical calculators, 18th century, Du Bois D. Parmelee's key adderDu Bois D. ParmeleeIn 1850 Du Bois (Dubois) D. Parmelee from New Paltz, state of New York, received the US patent №7074, for a single column key-driven adding machine. This is the fourth (known to us) key-driven adding machine in the...

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Borland and Hoffmann adding machine

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, Borland and Hoffmann adding machineBorland and Hoffmann adding machineIn 1878 William Patterson Borland, native of Baltimore, who lived in Leavenworth, Kansas, and Herman Hoffman, a watchmaker in Leavenworth, patented a one-column key adder (see US patent 205993), similar to the earlier Adder of Marshall Cram and to...

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Bassett

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, BassettBassett AdderAfter disappearing from the market of Webb’s Ribbon Adder in the end of 19th century, another similar device appeared with much better market success. The so called Bassett Adder is another continuous band machine and was in production from 1909 till the end of 1930s.The device...

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BriCal

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, BriCalBriCal Money Calculating MachineBriCal (after BRItish CALculator) is a circular brass calculator, patented (see the lower patent drawing) in 1905 by the engineer Herbert Dickinson and his wife Mabel Dickinson (British patent №GB190512088A).The BriCal patent drawingThe machine was manufactured by the company British Calculators Ltd, London, from...

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Saxonia calculating machine

History of Computers and Computing, Mechanical calculators, 19th century, Saxonia calculating machineEduard Zeibig (left) and Eugen Straßberger (right)Saxonia (Zeibig, Straßberger and Schumann)In 1895 three of the mechanics, who worked in the factory of Arthur Burkhardt in Glashütte— Eduard Zeibig (1856-1944), Eugen Straßberger (1857-1945), who started with Curt Dietzschold in 1878, and Josef Schumann (who was...

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Victor Schilt’s keyboard adder

History of Computers and Computing, Mechanical calculators, 18th century, Victor Schilt's keyboard adderVictor SchiltThe calculating machine of the swiss clockmaker Victor (or Viktor) Schilt (1822-1880) was exhibited in 1851 at the Great exposition of the works of industry of all nations in Crystal Palace, London, and received an honorable mention and a bronze medal, placed...

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Calcumeter of James J. Walsh

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, Calcumeter of James J. WalshCalcumeter of James J. WalshIn 1901 James J. Walsh (1863-1942) from Elizabeth, New Jersey, took out the US patent №689255 for an adding machine, type dial adder, which will became popular later as Calcumeter. This stylus-driven cogged wheel adder was manufactured from 1901...

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Millionaire Calculator Machine (The Complete History)

Millionaire Calculator MachineIn 1892 the brilliant Swiss engineer Otto Steiger from St. Gallen (1858-1923), who lived in Munich, received his first patent for a calculating machine of direct multiplication type (German patent DE 72870). Next years the machine was patented in Switzerland, Great Britain, France, USA and Canada. The machine of Otto Steiger is the...

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Centigraph – Complete History of the Centigraph Adding Machine

CentigraphArthur E. Shattuck of San Francisco, California, was a holder of 4 USA and 1 Canadian patents for calculating devices. The first (№268135 from 1882) and second (№349459 from 1886) patents (received along with Charles Thorn) are for chain adders, which never reached the market. The third (№363972 from 1887, along with Brainard Smith) and

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Winter’s keyboard adder

History of Computers and Computing, Mechanical calculators, 19th century, Winter's keyboard adderThe Calculating Machine of Caroline WinterOn April 12, 1859, a certain mysterious C. Winter, of Piqua, county of Miami and State of Ohio, received a 3-pages USA patent №23637 for Improved Adding-Machine (a single column adding device), which seems to be the fourth in...

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Computometer

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, ComputometerThe Computometer of William George CordingleyThe Englishman William George Cordingley, the author of several books for commerce and stock exchange from the end of 19th and beginning of 20th centuries, was a holder of 2 British patents—№GB190715435 from 24.10.1907 (see the lower patent drawing) and №GB190901751 from...

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Dalton Adding Machine – Complete History of the Dalton Adding Machine

Dalton Adding MachineJames Lewis Dalton (1866-1926) (see biography of James Lewis Dalton) was a successful businessman and amateur mechanic from Poplar Bluff, Butler county, Mo. He was the owner of the largest department store in the Mid-West, member of Missouri legislature and District Deputy Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge of State of Missouri. How...

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Curta Calculator – History of the Curta Mechanical Computer Calculator

Curta CalculatorThe Curta of Curt Herzstark (see biography of Curt Herzstark) is a remarkable mechanical calculator, based on the stepped drum mechanism of Lebnitz. It is a small, hand-cranked mechanical calculator, designed in 1930s, but introduced as late as 1948. It has an extremely compact design, a small cylinder that fits in the palm of...

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Victor Adding Machine – History of the Victor Adding Machine Co.

Victor Adding Machine - History of the Victor Adding Machine Co.Oliver David Johantgen (8 July 1875, Charleston, Indiana – 11 April 1932 in Evanston, Cook, Illinois)Victor Adding MachineVictor Adding Machine Co. was established in Chicago in 1918, with the chief designer (and one of the 3 owners) Oliver David Johantgen (1875-1932), an engineer with a...

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Golden Gem adding machine

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, Golden Gem adding machineGolden Gem adding machineThe Golden Gem adding machine enjoyed a long sales success through the first half of the 20th century. The first patent for this popular chain adder was established in 1899 in Germany (№DE121108) by Heinrich Goldmann (a.k.a as Henry Goldman) and...

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Pascaline – Complete History of the Pascaline Calculator

PascalineThe Pascaline (or roue Paschaline, as it is called in 17th century) of the great french scientist Blaise Pascal was for long time considered as the first mechanical calculator in the world, as the Rechenuhr of Schickard was not widely known until 1950s. Pascal had no access to the correspondence of Kepler, so he is...

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The History of Mechanical calculators

History of Computers and Computing, Mechanical calculatorsThe materials in this section are divided in chronological order.In the subsection Pioneers are described projects for first mechanical calculators, up to the end of the 17th century, which were created by some of the most famous polymaths and encyclopedic scientists of their time—Leonardo da Vinci, Wilhelm Schickard, Blaise...

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Groesbeck

Groesbeck's Adding MachineJohn Groesbeck (1834-1884), was a consulting accountant, born in New York, who lived in Philadelphia and was many years (from 1858) a teacher and a principal of Crittenden's Philadelphia Commercial College. He is also known as the author of several books, for instance The Crittenden Commercial Arithmetic and Business Manual, published for the...

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The Audion – History of The Audion Vacuum Tube

The AudionLee De Forest (1873–1961) was a remarkable American inventor with over 180 patents to his credit. He took credit for the Audion, first vacuum triode, a vacuum tube that takes relatively weak electrical signals and amplifies them. De Forest is one of the fathers of the electronic age, as his Audion helped to usher...

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Optical Character Recognition – History of Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Optical Character Recognition - History of Optical Character Recognition (OCR)Optical Character RecognitionA lot of people dreamed of a machine which could read characters and numerals, but it seems the first OCR (Optical Character Recognition) device was developed in late 1920s by the Austrian engineer Gustav Tauschek (1899-1945), who in 1929 obtained a patent on OCR...

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Circuit (IC)

Robert Noyce (left) and Jack Kilby (Courtesy of Intel and Texas InstrumentsIntegrated CircuitAs with many inventions, several people had the idea for an integrated circuit at almost the same time. In 1950s many inventors realize, that despite of the fact, that transistors had become commonplace in everything from radios to phones to computers, and that...

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Tabulating Machine – History of the Hollerith Tabulating Machine

Herman Hollerith and his first tabulator from 1890Tabulating MachineIn 1879 the bright and unmanageable teenager Herman Hollerith (see biography of Herman Hollerith) graduated with distinction at School of Mines at Columbia University in New York (but with low marks only in bookkeeping and machines) and went to work as a special agent for the US...

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DRAM – History of Dynamic Random Access Memory

Dynamic Random Access MemoryRobert Dennard invented one of the most significant advances in computer technology of modern time—dynamic random access memory, (or DRAM, better known simply as RAM).Robert H. Dennard was born in Terrell, Texas, USA, in 1932. In 1950 he earned a band scholarship to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he received...

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The First Vacuum Tube – History of the Thermionic Tube

The First Vacuum TubeSir John Ambrose Fleming (1849–1945) was an English electrical engineer and physicist, known primarily for inventing in 1904 the first vacuum tube. It was also called a thermionic valve, vacuum diode, kenotron, thermionic tube, or Fleming valve. Fleming made numerous contributions not only to electronics, but also to photometry, electric measurements and...

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Cathode – History of the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT Monitor)

CathodeThe history of Cathode Ray Tube can be followed back to (at least) 1854, when the skilled German glassblower and mechanic Heinrich Geissler (Geißler) (1814-1879) was asked by the professor of mathematics and physics in Universität Bonn (University of Bonn) Julius Plücker (1801-1868) to design an apparatus for evacuating a glass tube.Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Geißler...

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Compact Disc – Complete History of the Compact Disc (CD)

The first workable digital compact disc device, the precursor on now ubiquitous CD/DVDs, was invented in the late 1960s by the American physicist James Russell.James T. Russell was born in Bremerton, Washington in 1931. He was always a smart boy and at the age of six he devised a remote-control battleship with a storage compartment...

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Floppy Disk – Complete History of the Floppy Disk

Floppy diskYoshiro Nakamatsu (see the nearby photo), born 26 June, 1928, is a eccentric Japanese inventor (known also as Dr. NakaMats), claiming to hold the world record for number of inventions with over 3200, including the floppy disk, the CD, the karaoke machine, the digital watch, CinemaScope, armchair "Cerebrex", sauce pump, the taxicab meter, etc....

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LCD – Complete History of Liquid Crystal Display

LCD - Complete History of Liquid Crystal DisplayLCDA liquid crystal display (LCD) is a flat and thin panel, used for displaying information on watches, phones, monitors for computers, televisions and numerous other electronic devices. Among its major features are its lightweight construction, portability, and ability to be produced in much larger screen sizes than are...

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Magnetic Drum – History of Magnetic Drum Memory

Magnetic Drum - History of Magnetic Drum MemoryMagnetic DrumFirst magnetic drum memory, a magnetic data storage device and an early form of computer memory, which plays an important role in the computer memory development (e.g. used in ABC computer) and was widely used in the 1950s and into the 1960s, was invented by the Austrian...

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Laser Printer – Complete History of the Laser Printer

Laser PrinterIn 1938 the American physicist and inventor Chester Carlson (1906-1968) (see the nearby image) invented a dry printing process, called later Xerography (the word comes from the Greek for dry writing), the foundation technology for copiers and laser printers to come. Carlson applied for patent in 1939 and in 1942 the patent was granted...

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Keyboard – History of the Modern Computer Keyboard

KeyboardThe invention of the modern computer keyboard can be traced back to the invention of the typewriter. So, who invented the typewriter?As with many other modern machines, like airplane, automobile, telephone, television, etc., a number of people contributed insights and inventions that eventually resulted in a commercially successful product, the same happened with the invention...

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Hard Disk – Complete History of the Hard Disk

On 8 September, 1888, in the article "Some Possible Forms of Phonograph" of the British magazine Electrical World, some Oberlin Smith published one of the earliest works dealing with magnetic recording, and suggested (probably for the first time) the use of permanent magnetic impressions for the recording of sound. Oberlin Smith (1840-1926) was an engineer...

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Modem – Complete History of The Modem

Modem - Complete History of The ModemModemThis remarkable device, the modem (from MOdulator—DEModulator) heralded a new age of communications and played a major role in the explosion of the internet.Modems were in action in teletype services since the 1920s. To send telegrams and cablegrams via teletype, the serial RS-232 standard was developed and used for...

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Printed Circuit Board – History of the Printed Circuit Board

Printed Circuit BoardAfter Gustav Tauschek, another Viennese engineer and inventor—Paul Eisler, made a significant contribution in the modern electronics industry with the invention of printed circuit board (PCB) in 1936.The Austrian Jew Paul Eisler was born in Vienna in 1907. After graduating with an engineering degree from Technische Universität Wien (Vienna University of Technology) in...

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Computer Mouse – Complete History of The Computer Mouse

Douglas Engelbart in 1984, showing the first mouse and a new one (Courtesy The Bootstrap InstituteComputer MouseThe first computer mouse was conceived of in the early 1960’s by Douglas Engelbart (see biography of Douglas Engelbart), then a Director of Augmentation Research Center (ARC) at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), in Menlo Park, California.The mouse was just...

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Microprocessor – Complete History of the Microprocessor

MicroprocessorWho actually invented the single-chip microprocessor?Trying to answer to this question, we will stumble upon again into the same story as with the inventions of the integrated circuit, the transistor, and many others gadgets, reviewed in this site. Several people got the idea almost at the same time, but only one got the all glory,...

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Landin’s Computing machine

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, Landin's Computing machineLandin's Computing machineLandin's Computing machine is a chain adder of the type, invented in 1670s by Claude Perrault

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Touch Screen – Complete History of the Touch Screen

Touch Screen - Complete History of the Touch ScreenTouch ScreenThe concept of now ubiquitous touchscreen interface was put into words in October, 1965, when Eric Arthur Johnson, an engineer at the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern, England, who was interested in developing touchscreen for air traffic control, described his ideas for a capacitive touchscreen (see...

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Magnetic Tape – Complete History of the Magnetic Tape

Magnetic TapeThe magnetic tape is the oldest memory media for computers, still in use today. A tape was used for the first time to record data in 1951 in the Mauchly-Eckert UNIVAC I computer, and still in use today as a cheap and reusable archive media.As one of the possible beginnings of the story of...

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Semiconductor Transistor – History of the Semiconductor Transistor

Semiconductor TransistorThe modern electronic transistor is a semiconductor device, commonly used to amplify or switch electronic signals. A transistor is made of a solid piece of a semiconductor material, with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals, changes the current...

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Computer Scanner – History of the Modern Computer Scanner

Computer ScannerIn the world of computers, the scanner is a device that optically scans images, printed or written text, a three-dimensional object, etc. representing it in a digital format.The now ubiquitous device can be found in offices as a desktop (or flatbed) scanner, where the document is placed on a glass window for scanning; in...

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Judah Levin adding machine

Judah Levin adding machineYet another Jewish inventor of a calculating machine (many inventors of Jewish origin are mentioned in this site, let's mention only Stern, Slonimski, Roth, Staffel and Jacobson), this time an authentic Orthodox rabbi—Judah (Yehuda) Leib Levin (1863-1926) from Detroit, Michigan. Judah Levin was a Russian Jew, who settled in USA in 1894...

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Electronic computer

History of Computers and Computing, The birth of the electronic computer, Electronic computerABC (Atanasoff/Berry Computer), John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry, 1939Colossus, Maxwell Newman and Thomas Flowers, 1943ENIAC, John Mauchly and John Eckert, 1945SSEM, Frederic Williams and Tom Kilburn, 1948Ferranti Mark 1, 1951Whirlwind, Jay Forrester, 1951PDP-1, Ben Gurley, 1959Atlas computer, 1959SAGE, Jay Forrester, 1961PDP-11, 1970Cray, Seymour...

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SAGE – Complete History of the SAGE Computer System

SAGE - Complete History of the SAGE Computer SystemSAGEThe U.S. military SAGE Computer System, developed in the 1950's and operational by 1961, is beyond all doubt the largest, heaviest and most expensive computer system ever built!SAGE was the brainchild of Jay Forrester (the creator of the Whirlwind computer) and George Valley, two professors at MIT's...

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PDP-1 – Complete History of the DEC PDP-1 Computer

PDP-1In 1959, a small and relatively new company (founded in 1957) for logic modules and other laboratory equipment, located in an old woolen mill in Maynard Massachusetts, named Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), decided to built a computer. Ken Olsen, cofounder of DEC, remembered: We had a dream of interactive computing. Normal computing was considered big,...

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SSEM – Complete History of the Small Scale Experimental Machine

SSEMThe world's first stored-program electronic digital computer, the English Small Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM, nicknamed the Baby) successfully executed its first program on 21st June 1948. That program was written by Tom Kilburn, who actually built the machine, designed by his mentor—Frederic (Freddie) Williams.Frederic Calland Williams (1911-1977) gained a BSc (1932) and MSc (1933) degrees...

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The birth of the modern computer

History of Computers and Computing, The birth of the modern computerSo, who invented the computer?(Un)fortunately, there is not a simple answer to this question. The modern computer is such a complex amalgam of logic and engineering, that it would be ludicrous to single out any one person as THE INVENTOR.In this section I will present...

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Whirlwind – Complete History of the Whirlwind Computer

Whirlwind ComputerJay Wright Forrester was born on July 14, 1918, and grew up on a cattle ranch in Anselmo, Nebraska, USA. While in local high school, he built a wind-driven, 12-volt electrical system using old car parts, and it gave the ranch its first electric power.After high school, in 1936 he enrolled in the Engineering...

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Compucolor – Complete History of the Compucolor 8001

Compucolor - Complete History of the Compucolor 8001Charles A. Muench (source: camuench.com)Compucolor 8001Charles A. Muench, a PhD in Electrical Engineering, started in 1972 in his basement in Duluth, Georgia, his second company— Intelligent Systems Corp. (ISC). The initial goal of the company was to design an intelligent and cheap color CRT (cathode ray tube) based...

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Grid Compass – Complete History of the Grid Compass 1100

Grid CompassWilliam (Bill) Moggridge (b. 1943), a British industrial and interaction designer, the current director of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, is known as a pioneer of interaction design and one of the first people to integrate human factors into the design of software and hardware, as well as the...

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PDS-1 Minicomputer

Imlac PDS-1 - Complete History of the Imlac PDS-1 MinicomputerImlac PDS-1The amazing Imlac PDS-1 minicomputer (see the photo bellow), made by Imlac Corporation (founded in 1968) of Needham, Massachusetts, debuted in 1970 and was the first personal graphics computer. It has a 16 bit main processor with a secondary built-in vector graphics display list processor...

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Kenbak-1 – Complete History of the Kenbak-1 Computer

Kenbak-1The stored program, automatically sequenced computer Kenbak-1 was considered from some people to be the first commercially available personal computer in the world.It was created in 1971 by John Blankenbaker, working in his garage in Los Angeles. Initial sales commenced in September of 1971. It was intended to be educational and the professionals in the...

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Portable Computer

IBM 5100Introduced in September 1975, the 5100 Portable Computer was IBM's first production personal computer (six years before the best-seller IBM PC). The 5100 was intended to put computer capabilities at the fingertips of engineers, analysts, statisticians and other problem-solvers, but not for business purposes.If the size and weight of the 5100 seems (25 kg)...

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Personal computer

At the time (around the middle of the 20th century) when a few people knew the word "computer", and the most of them thought that the "computer" meant a person who solved equations, there were people, who dreamed for a personal computer. There were a number of contenders for the title of Personal Computer before...

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Simon Electronic Brain – Complete History of the Simon Computer

Edmund Berkeley explains how the Electric Brain Simon gets instructions from a piece of punched tape (1950)Simon ComputerEdmund Callis Berkeley (1909–1988, see biography of Edmund Berkeley) is an American computer scientist, publisher, and a social activist, who worked to achieve conditions that might minimize the threat of nuclear war.First meeting of Berkeley with computers was...

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Tachylemme of Chambon

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating tools, Gadgets, Tachylemme of ChambonTachylemmeThe Tachylemme calculator of the Parisian Casimir-Louis Chambon was patented in 1876 (French patent 115319 for Calculateur mécanique universel) and in 1889 (French patent 198553 for Multiplicateur Diviseur) and was produced and sold in 1880s by his company—Chambon et Baye. Chambon was a holder also...

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Sphere 1 – Complete History of the Sphere 1 Computer

Sphere 1The Sphere 1 computer, one of the earliest microcomputers, was touted by its creator—Michael Donald Wise (1949-2002), the founder and president of Sphere Corporation, a computer company based in Bountiful, Utah, as the first true PC, because it had a keyboard (with a number pad), a monitor, external storage, and did not run on...

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First relays computers

History of Computers and Computing, The birth of the modern computer, First relays computersThe relay computers were huge, slow, expensive, and often undependable machines, but nevertheless they deserve our attention, because they were the first digital computers and traced the path for their smarter brothers—the electronic computers.Konrad Zuse— computersHoward Hathaway Aiken—MARK computersGeorge Robert Stibitz—Complex Number...

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Napier’s Bones – Complete History of Napiers Bones (Rods)

Napier's BonesSeeing there is nothing that is so troublesome to mathematical practice… than the multiplications, divisions, square and cubical extractions of great numbers, which besides the tedious expense of time are... subject to many slippery errors, I began therefore to consider [how] I might remove those hindrances.                                Excerpt from A Description of the Wonderful Canon of...

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Calculating tools

History of Computers and Computing, Calculating toolsIn this section will be examined some calculating tools, used by mankind in the past 2000 years. Of course we will start with the abacus, the most famous and of longest use calculating tool. Then will be examined two of the inventions of the Scottish nobleman John Napier—Napier's bones...

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The History of The Arabic Automata

The Arabic AutomataAfter the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the end of 5th century, the western and central part of Europe was swept down by many barbarian tribes and fall into so called Dark Ages for some five centuries. During this time, the centers of world's art and science moved to the east—to...

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Abacus – Complete History of the Abacus

AbacusWith the complex adding systems that we have today, it can be hard to grasp that peoples were using small stones or other objects as numerical devices from time immemorial. The word calculate itself comes from the Latin calculus, which means small stone. These methods of calculations introduced some elementary kind of abstraction, but people...

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GISMO of David Shepard

David Hammond Shepard on the screen of TV show "I've Got a Secret" (18 November, 1959)GISMO of David ShepardThe concept of Optical Character Recognition (OCR), or transforming an image of printed text into a text code, has been around, in one form or another, for a good 200 years. Back in 1850s inventors began bombarding...

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Gadgets

In this section will be presented some simple calculating devices, which are not so clever, to be presented in other sections of the site, but still clever enough, to be interesting as principle or to had market success. During the second half of 19th and first half of 20th centuriy, a large number of relatively...

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Logic Theorist – Complete History of the Logic Theorist Program

Logic Theorist - Complete History of the Logic Theorist ProgramHerbert Simon (left) and Allen Newell (right)Logic TheoristThe first artificial intelligence program (the first program specially engineered to mimic the problem solving skills of a human being) was created in 1955-56 by Herbert Simon, Allen Newell and John Shaw.Herbert Alexander Simon (1916–2001), a Nobel Prize (in...

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Operating System

History of LinuxIn April, 1991, Linus Torvalds, a 21-years old student on computer science at the University of Helsinki, Finland, began his personal project—to create a new operating system kernel. This modest project will evolve to the world famous Linux operating system and will make Linus one of the most influential people in the world...

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The History of Electric Dog of Hammond and Miessner

John Hays Hammond Jr. (left) and Benjamin Franklin Miessner (right)Electric Dog of Hammond and MiessnerElectric Dog, the ancestor of all photo-tropic self-directing robots, was designed in 1912 by two young American experts in radio-controlled devices: John Hays Hammond Jr. (1888-1965) and Benjamin Franklin Miessner (1890–1976). In fact Hammond initiated and funded the development, while Miessner...

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The History of Elektro of Westinghouse

The Robots of Westinghouse1. Herbert TelevoxWestinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co's first robot was Herbert Televox, built in 1927 by Roy Wensley at their East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania plant. The robot was based on the patents of Wensley, filed in 1923, 1927 and 1929. The Televox could accept a telephone call by lifting the telephone receiver. It...

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The History of The Automata of Leonardo da Vinci

The Automata of Leonardo da VinciIt is out of the question, that one of the greatest geniuses of the mankind Leonardo da Vinci, mentioned in several other pages of this site, designed automatic machines. Although it is clear that he invented such devices, the materials that survived until this day doesn't give a clear account...

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Shakey the Robot – Complete History of Shakey the Robot

Charles Rosen with Shakey in 1983Shakey the RobotShakey, the first mobile robot with the ability to perceive and reason about its surroundings, was created in late 1960s in Stanford Research Institute (SRI) by a group of engineers, managed by Charles Rosen, as the project was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).In November...

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The History of Steam Man of Zadoc Dederick

Steam Man of Zadoc DederickIn middle 1860s, Zadock (he always spelled his first name as Zadoc, whereas other official documents have him as Zadock) Dederick, a young machinist from Newark, New Jersey, and his fellow-citizen Isaac Grass invented a steam carriage with a man figure, which can be considered as the first American robot.In 1868...

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The History of Leonardo Torres’s chess-machine

Leonardo Torres's chess-machineThe famous Spanish inventor Leonardo Torres y Quevedo was mentioned several times in this site, mainly regarding his automatic calculating machines. However, this time we will pay attention to his chess-playing automata.The first chess-automaton of Torres (front view)Leonardo Torres was not the first man, who dreamed to create a chess-playing machine. Several attempts...

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Douglas Engelbart’s NLS

History of Computers and Computing, Internet, Birth, Douglas Engelbart's NLSThe NLS system of Douglas EngelbartThe name of the prominent American inventor and computer pioneer Douglas Carl Engelbart (biography of Douglas Engelbart) has already been mentioned several times in this site (see the first computer mouse).Here we will mention only his system NLS as a first...

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