Rear Admiral Grace Hopper and Howard Aiken developed the MARK series of computers in 1944. Hopper also played an important role in the development of COBOL, or Common Business-Oriented Language. Hopper and Aiken wrote a series of papers on the MARK computers, which were also known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator.
The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, also known as ENIAC, was announced in 1946. This was the first real computer in the world. Called the “giant brain,” it could make calculations 1,000 times faster than calculators and other automatic calculating machines. Engineers at the University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Electrical Engineering developed this machine with funds from the United States Army.
Early Computer Memory
Computer users of today check to see how much RAM a machine has before making a buying decision. In 1946, F.C. Williams invented the precursor to RAM, the cathode-ray tube. This tube was used for data storage in the earliest computer models. This was followed by the invention of the Small Scale Experimental Machine digital CRT storage, developed by Tom Kilburn and Frederic Calland Williams in 1948.
Electronic Computer Development
Hideo Yamachito invented the first electronic computer in 1950. Yamachito is known as the father of the computing industry in Japan due to his work on this project. His team developed the Tokyo Automatic Calculator with vacuum tubes and other components.
This invention was followed closely by the development of the first business computer. Developed in 1951 by John Simmons and T. Raymond Thompson, this computer was known as the Lyon Electronic Office (LEO). UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I) was also introduced in 1951. This was a mainframe computer that gained a lot of attention when it correctly predicted the outcome of the 1952 presidential election in the United States. EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) was also developed in 1951. This was an electronic computer that used binary. It was considered a stored program computer since it contained a high-speed serial access memory. It also contained a timer, dual memory unit, temporary tanks, and a computational unit.
In 1953, International Business Machines released the IBM 701. This was the first commercial scientific computer produced by IBM. This early machine could store only 2,048 words in its 72 tubes, but it was expandable to 4,096 words of 36 bits each. Despite the future popularity of the computer, IBM sold only 19 machines in 1953. When IBM released the 704 computer model, the new system had magnetic core memory, which led to further developments in the computer field.
The use of silicon chips is something most modern computer users expect, but these chips did not exist in the early 1950s. It was not until Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby invented the silicon chip in 1958 that these components were available for use in computers.
Computer games are now a way of life, with millions of people spending time and money to create virtual worlds. The earliest computers did not have games, but that changed in 1962 when Steve Russell of MIT invented “Spacewar.” This was the first known computer game. This early invention paved the way for the creation of other popular games such as “Minesweeper” and “Solitaire.”
Early developers focused on increasing computer capacity and making it easier to use these machines. Douglas Engelbart invented the computer mouse, which is still in use today. He named his device the mouse because it had a tail at the end. Shortly after Engelbart invented the mouse, the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) was developed to make it easier to exchange data among many computers.
Some of the earliest computers required users to have programming knowledge, which is what kept them off the general market for so long. In 1964, Thomas Kurtz and John Kemeny developed the BASIC programming language. BASIC stands for Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Language. Shortly after the invention of BASIC came the development of hypertext, which is a cornerstone of World Wide Web function. Hypertext was developed by Ted Nelson and Andries van Dam in 1965.
In 1967, IBM created what was then called a “floppy disk.” These disks contained computer programs stored on a large, thin disk. These large disks were eventually eliminated in favor of smaller floppy disks. As technology advanced, floppy disks became a thing of the past as computer users started to rely on hard drives, CDs, and flash drives for data storage.
Supercomputers are used for solving problems and making calculations in the fields of meteorology, physics, and molecular modeling. Until 1969, this type of computer did not exist. This is the year that Seymour Cray developed the first supercomputer. While working for Control Data Corporation (CDC), Cray created the CDC 6600. He later released another successful supercomputer, the Cray 1.
So many people rely on the Internet today that they cannot imagine a world without this resource. In 1969, the U.S. Department of Defense developed the building blocks for what eventually became the Internet. They developed the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPANET) with the intention of creating a computer network that would not break down during disasters.
Intel developed the first dynamic RAM chip in 1970. During the same year, Intel also developed the Intel 4004, the first known microprocessor. The 1970s continued to be a significant decade in computer developments, as the inventions of e-mail, liquid crystal display, floppy disks, Ethernet, personal computer, computer gateways, SQL, and portable computers all happened during this decade. Two of the most important computer companies in the world were also founded in the 1970s. Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975 and Apple Computers was founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976. Apple developed the first personal computer to have color graphics in 1977. This was the Apple II computer model.
OS and Software Development
In 1980, Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed DOS, a simple operating system that grew in popularity during the next few years. WordPerfect released the WordPerfect 1.0 word processing program in 1982. During the same year, the Commodore 64 took the title of the best-selling computer of all time and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) was introduced. By 1983, more than 10 million computers were in use all around the United States.
In 1983, the Domain Name System (DNS) was created, introducing the extensions .com, .edu, .mil, .net, .int, .org, and .gov. These extensions are still in use today, along with new extensions such as .biz and .info. Apple introduced the Macintosh in 1984, “Pagemaker” for Macintosh came out in 1985, and Microsft introduced “Microsoft Works” in 1987.
In 1990, Robert Cailliau and Tim Berners-Lee proposed a system that eventually led to the invention of the modern Internet. The World Wide Web debuted in 1991, but only 50 World Wide Web servers existed by 1993. The development of the Web was quickly followed by the development of Yahoo! and the Java script language. The invention of the Internet led to the creation of e-commerce sites such as eBay and Amazon in 1995. In the late 1990s, consumers were introduced to WebTV, Google, and PayPal.
In fewer than 100 years, technology has completely changed people’s lives. From making it easier to solve complex mathematical problems to making it possible to store data on small drives, technology has improved almost every aspect of modern living. It is hard to imagine, but the first computers were so large that one computer took up the space of an entire room. Now we have mini notebooks and laptops to make it easy to communicate and engage in productive activity wherever we go. With all of these rapid changes, people can only imagine where technology will take them in the next 100 years.
These resources contain valuable information about developments in the computer industry.
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper: This resource explains Hopper’s work with the earliest computer system and highlights her other achievements in military history.
The ENIAC Story: This article discusses the fascinating history of ENIAC and explains how it was developed.
A Brief History of the Internet: This resource examines the development of the Internet, a tool that billions of people now use every day.
Seymour Roger Cray: This article discusses the work of Seymour Cray, with particular attention paid to his work in the supercomputer industry.
The IBM 701 Defense Calculator: This resource gives information about the IBM 701 and includes a photo to show off its massive size.
Influential Computer Languages: This timeline documents the invention of the most important computer languages in the world.
The History of Computers: This resource includes information about the earliest computer models and early forms of data storage.
Supercomputer History: This article explains how the National Center for Atmospheric Research used the first supercomputers and how they use supercomputers today.
Computer Concepts: This resource discusses the development of computers. It also includes links to more information on computer terminology and concepts.
50 Years of Hard Drives: This article from “PC World” takes a look at the history of hard drives, from the first drive to the efficient drives computers use today.
Floppy Disks: This resource discusses the history of floppy disks, from the large 5.25” floppy disk of the 80s to later versions.
The History of Apple Computers: This comprehensive resource discusses the founding of Apple in the 1970s and talks about how it became one of the greatest computer companies in the world.
Bill Gates Interview: This resource from the Smithsonian pays close attention to Bill Gates and his work in the computer industry.
Steve Jobs: This biography discusses the life and work of Steve Jobs in detail.
Internet Resource Links: This list of links from the FCC provides detailed information about the invention and history of the Internet.
Computer History Museum: This online museum offers plenty of facts and photos about the history of computing.
Early FBI Computers: This transcript details the early use of computers in the FBI and how computers have changed law enforcement.
Computers and Hydrology: This resource explains how computers have been used in the field of hydrology.
Computer Timeline: This resource offers a comprehensive look at the history of computers and their development through time.