History of Computers

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Think how computers today we handle were invented…

What was the first computer and why it was invented? The First computer was invented during World War II to break signal codes of German Army. The computers were as big as a size of a 2 bedroom flat and would consume electricity of a whole city…wow!! And they were very slow as there were no program to run or language to write programs. People used to give numeric codes to operate the computer or basically signal to operate circuitry of a complex mechanism. The computer used to generate enormous heat as there were about 18000 thermionic valves (diode valves) which used to be replaced in succession of few seconds.


Those computers were not installed in a house rather in an open space like parks. History of computers called it 1st generation of computers.

The US-built ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was the first electronic programmable computer built in the US. Although the ENIAC was similar to the Colossus it was much faster and more flexible. It was unambiguously a Turing-complete device and could compute any problem that would fit into its memory. Like the Colossus, a “program” on the ENIAC was defined by the states of its patch cables and switches, a far cry from the stored program electronic machines that came later. Once a program was written, it had to be mechanically set into the machine with manual resetting of plugs and switches.

It combined the high speed of electronics with the ability to be programmed for many complex problems. It could add or subtract 5000 times a second, a thousand times faster than any other machine. It also had modules to multiply, divide, and square root. High speed memory was limited to 20 words (about 80 bytes). Built under the direction of John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania, ENIAC’s development and construction lasted from 1943 to full operation at the end of 1945. The machine was huge, weighing 30 tons, using 200 kilowatts of electric power and contained over 18,000 vacuum tubes, 1,500 relays, and hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors.

To be continued…

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