The world’s first computer was invented by a man named Charles Babbage in 1849. He called it “The Difference Engine No. 2”. Although he never got around to building it, it did get built eventually by someone else. The first computer is a 5 ton grey box that sits in a museum in California. The very first computer filled an entire room and was used only for military communication purposes. This computer used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory. They were expensive to operate and used up a lot of electricity, which generated lots of heat and had a lot of malfunctions. And, it could only perform one function at a time and used punch cards and paper tape. Output was on printouts because the monitor hadn’t been created yet.
In 1963, transistors replaced the vacuum tubes, which began the second computer generation. These computers still relied on punch cards for input and printouts for output, but they were a lot better than the first ones, with fewer malfunctions.
The first personal computer was called a microprocessor. At this time, the transistors were smaller and were built onto a silicon chip and placed in a circuit board, this sped up the computing processes quite a bit. In 1971, scientists were able to fit all of the processing circuits on a single chip. This was when the first floppy disk was invented, it was 8 ½” wide and were used with almost every PC. The PC could then calculate, perform logical operations, manage data and contain operating instructions. The first desktop computer was designed in 1974. It could be purchased in a mail order magazine as a kit that had to be put together. The cost of this computer was around $400. This computer could be programmed and information could be stored on a cassette tape.
In 1976, two men by the name of Stephen Wozinak and Steven Jobs created the Apple 1 computer in Steven Jobs’ parents garage. In 1977, the two men founded the company, Apple Computers, Inc. And then, in April of the same year, the Apple II was born and it even had color graphics and a keyboard. This computer sold for about $1290.
In 1980, the first hard drive disk was created and held 5 times as much as a floppy disk.
In 1981, IBM introduced it’s first PC which was a 16 Bit processor. This was IBM’s second attempt, the first attempt failed completely in 1976. IBM’s new computer was more powerful and could communicate with other computers, which is what we now call networking.
In 1984, the first CD Rom was introduced, but hadn’t really taken off yet.
Around 1985, the first 32 Bit computers came about which was big enough to handle a small to medium sized business.
In 1994, Netscape came out with it’s first browser and they hired many new programmers to provide new features and products, which began the big computer boost of the 90’s. This is when the first Zip file system began and 100MB of memory could be stored on a single 3 ½ inch floppy disk.
We are now in the fifth generation of computers, some are still in development which are based on artificial intelligence. Computers now are so advanced that they even have voice recognition and navigation abilities.
Today’s computers are a far cry from that first, almost dinosaur-like computer that first arrived on the scene. They are faster, have almost unlimited memory capabilities. Today’s models are getting smaller and smaller, very lightweight and extremely efficient.