In today’s world computers in general and computer applications have become part of our day to day lives. But, despite this particular fact, many of us don’t know a lot about computers especially when it comes to their history. This post will get to examine a brief history of computers by looking at the advances made in the world of computing ever since it was established.
The history of computers can be dated back about 2000 years ago when J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly from University of Pennsylvania created the Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator or ENIAC as it was popularly known back in the days. One physical feature that was evident by simply looking at this particular machine is that it was very huge in fact many in the industry have referred to it as a giant machine and for good reason. The ENIAC required a 167 square feet of floor so as to store the more than 18,000 vacuum tubes that it used. In terms of how it worked, the ENIAC used a word of 10 decimal digits as opposed to binary numbers as it’s the case with computers of later years. Additionally, it featured 20 adders that employed decimal ring counters (these adders also served as quick access read-write register storage), a divider square rooter and a multiplier. All in all, the EINAC was the first successful and fast electronic digital computer to be developed.
Advancement in Hardware
The 1950s brought with it a new era in computing as the invention of two devices proved to be a big turning point. These two new devices are an integrated circuit or chip as its popularly known and transistors. Both these devices had particular job that they were to do for instance the transistor, which was invented by William Shockley, Walter Brattain and John Bardeen back in 1947, was to replace the widely use vacuum tubes in computers (vacuum tubes were invented by Lee De Forest, an American physicist, back in 1906). The other device that that was invented during this particular time was integrated circuit. The integrated circuit is basically a collection of transistors. These transistors were very tiny and in most cases they were connected at the time that the transistors were being manufactured. These two devices basically made computers smaller. Additionally they also made them faster given that the distance electrons had to follow was made shorter.
The introduction of Mainframe & Personal Computers
In 1960s large mainframe computers became very popular especially with the US military as well as large companies in America. There is one company that was in the fore front of selling these particular machines and that was IBM. Mainframe personal computers were without a doubt a revolution in computing despite the fact that they were prone to errors, expensive and very difficult to use.
Fast forward 10 years later, the world was introduced to personal computers thanks to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The two introduced the first ever Apple II personalized computer in San Francisco at the West Coast Computer Fair. The Apple II featured a number of firsts such as a built-in basic programming language as well as a 4,100 character memory and color graphics. The Apple II was being sold by the two for $1,298 and even before the Computer fair was over they received a massive 300 orders and from here on Apple never looked back and it has grown to become the big tech company that we all know about today.
The TRS-80, built by Tandy Radio Shack, was a home based personal computer that was also introduced during the late 1970s. The TRS-80 was a revolution as well when it comes to matters computers and its second version was even better featuring a disk drive that was capable of storing data as well as programs on it and a 64,000 character memory. During this particular period there were only two companies that developed computers with disk drive and these two are Tandy Radio Shack and Apple.
After seeing the success that these two companies were having when it came to personal computers thanks to their disk drives, IBM, which had for some time now been focusing on mainframe and microcomputers, opted to start working on their very own called the Acorn that was later called IBM PC.
IBM’s PC featured a keyboard that was obtained from an IBM electric typewriter, a 16,000 character memory as well as a connection for tape cassette player. In the early 1980s both Apple and IBM had come out with other new PC models that had new and exciting features. For instance, Apple introduced the very first Macintosh computer and back then it was the first machine to have a mouse as well as a graphical user interface or GUI. After seeing the success that Apple had with its Macintosh, IBM also came up with their own home based PC, the 286-AT that featured a mouse as well as GUI. But what really made the 286-AT a hot commodity especially with the business community was the fact that it came with useful business applications such as a spreadsheet, Lotus 1-2-3 and lastly Microsoft Word.
From there onwards, there have been lots of development in the computing world and in today’s world many people have very powerful personal computers that feature the very best when it comes to graphic workstations right at their homes and the best part about it is that they are increasingly becoming smaller while still being able to perform way better than the ENIAC that took up plenty of space.