Invention Means When You Come Up With a New Idea The World Has Never Seen Before
Have you ever wondered how we got the computer? Turn it on, it is there with lots of games, movies, YouTube, and fun stuff to do. But who invented it? And was the computer always as small as it is today? We have computers everywhere. In tablets, in phones, even in watches. We have computers on our desks at home, we have laptops. There is a difference between the history of the computer and the history of the PC. The PC is a personal computer, small enough for an individual person to use. The idea of the computer was invented in 1883 by Charles Babbage, an engineer from England; but Babbage was ahead of his time. Technology was not where he could produce the computer; it was 160 years later that Babbage's idea was put into action. Still, Babbage is called “the father of the computer.” The first computers did not look anything like computers we have today. The first computers were giant. Babbage's idea of the computer was called a mechanical computer. Why? Because it was built from mechanical parts. The first computer could do the same kind of math that second graders know how to do—multiplication and division. Many years later, by 1963, these mechanical computers had improved to be able to handle more complex math problems, like calculating square roots. Square roots is hard for a second grader to calculate.
Computers, like most products, changed over time. A mechanical computer that can do simple math is great, but humans can do simple math. So a computer needs to do more than a human. By the 20th century (the 1900's), analog computers were used in science. Analog computers were used well into the 1950's. An analog computer cannot be programmed. And when we think of computers today we think of computer programs. As computers started to handle programs, they were used to win over military exercises. In 1938, it was the United States military, the U.S. Navy, that developed an electromechanical analog computer; while if you look at a picture of it, this computer looked gigantic, it was a small computer for the day and time (small enough to fit onto a U.S. Navy submarine). Wow, a computer on a submarine! A computer under water! It was called the Torpedo Data Computer! Torpedoes Away!! This type of computer used more complex math---it used trigonometry to analyze how to hit a target with a torpedo. It was a German engineer, Konrad Zuse, who in 1941, designed the world’s first programmable electromechanical digital computer. Then a few years later, during World War II, the Colossus was invented. Colossus, just as the name sounds, means big! The Colossus was invented by a man from England named Tommy Flowers, and it was used in World War II to break the codes of the Germans.
ENIAC--Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer
During World War II, from 1943-1945, America built the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). It was programmable. It was like the British Colossus, but faster. How did it work? You would write a computer program; then use plugs and switches to mechanically set the program onto the machine. Can you imagine today if you had to set plugs and switches up mechanically on the computer before doing your homework? The modern computer is based on a research paper in 1936 by Alan Turing. He too was British. He called his invention the “Universal Computing Machine” or the “Universal Turing Machine.” His represents the first concept of the modern computer, the way we think of computers today.
But what about the personal computer? In 1975, the MITS Altair 8800 and the IMSAI 8080 was invented. Langston's mom was born in 1975, so the personal computer is as old as Langston's mother! Wow! It was sold as a kit; you got the pieces in a box and you had to put it together yourself! Is a putting a computer together easier or harder than building Legos? Both of these computers used the Intel 8080 CPU. In the same year, Zilog invented the Z-80 processor and MOS Technology invented the 6502 processor; and same year Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote formed Microsoft.
Steve Jobs of Apple--Do I Look Like Him?
Maybe I will work for Apple one day
In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (the two Steves) created Apple’s only version of a computer kit, the Apple I; so the first apple computer, you had to build yourself out of a kit! Also in 1976, the Electric Pencil was invented; no, it is not a pencil, it is the first word processing program. Shugard put out on the market the 5.25 floppy drive for floppy disks, and the rest they say is history!
The computer generation was born! The computer revolution was under way! In 1977, Apple gave the world the Apple II, a color computer; it had expansion slots and a floppy drive support. And there was even a Radio Shack in 1977 selling these bad boys!