Evolution of Computers

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How many inventions in your lifetime can you think of that have changed everything in our society today? Computers have taken over today’s society. From everyday tasks to moving satellites in space, PCs have revolutionized almost everything in our society. Computers weren’t always this complicated though, and were around a long time before anyone even knew what the word “computer” meant.

The Abacus was the first known machine developed to help perform mathematical equations. From what researchers have discovered it was invented around 500 to 600 BC in an area around China or Egypt. This early tool was used to perform addition and subtraction and can still be found used in some of today’s Middle Eastern cultures. In 650 AD the Hindus invented a written symbol for zero. Before this no true written calculations could be made, making this one of the most essential inventions to help computers. In 830 AD the first mathematics textbook was invented by a man named Mohammed Ibn Musa Abu Djefar. The subject of this textbook he wrote was “Al Gebr We'l Mukabala” which in today’s society is known as “Algebra” (History of Computers).

So what does all of this have to do with computers? Well without numbers computers wouldn’t exist or have any reason to exist. The whole point of a computer is to perform mathematical computations. Computers weren’t the first to do these mathematical calculations though. In 1623 AD Wilhelm Schickard invented “The Calculating Clock” which would perform operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. In the year 1801 Jacquard Loom devised a punch card system with a power loom and an automatic card reader. Later that century in 1890 Herman Hollerith invented a census calculator that put each person’s information on a punch card and sent it through an electrical/mechanical tabulating machine. This sped up the process from about 7 years to 2 years making this a very efficient method of performing a census, which in turn helped spread it around the world (History of Computers).

Jump to the year 1937 when John V. Atanasoff invented the first electronic computer. This computer and others below, unless otherwise stated, were made using vacuum tubes, “an electronic device in which conduction by electrons takes place through a vacuum within a sealed glass or metal container and which has various uses based on the controlled flow of electrons” ( From 1941 to 1954 the governments of various countries started developing different computers for different purposes (Sandiego 1).
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