The History of Computing

The History of Computing
• From the earliest mechanical computers
• through the first electronic computers
• to today's microprocessors
The Early Years
• The Abacus is generally considered to be the
first mechanical computer.
Early Software
• The Algorithm is related
to a 12th century
Tashkent scholar:
ibn Musa
The First Floating Point Unit
• 1612 - John Napier (of the Netherlands)
made the first documented use of the FP and
invented the logarithm.
• 1622 - William Oughtred created the slide
rule based on Napier's logarithms that was
to be the primary calculator of engineers
through the 19th and early 20th centuries.
More Stepping Stones
• 1642 - Blaise Pascal created an adding
machine with automatic carries from one
position to the next.
• 1673 - Gottfried Leibniz built a calculator
capable of multiplication
First Industrial Use
• In France, JosephMarie Jacquard
invented an automatic
loom using punched
cards for the control of
the patterns in the
fabrics. The introduction
of these looms caused
the riots against the
replacement of people
by machines.
Charles Babbage - “Father of the
• 1822 - Designed the Difference Engine
for the purposes of computing the
entries in navigational and other tables
(even received the first government
grant for computer research).
• 1833 - Designed the Analytical
Engine that had the basic
components of a modern
computer. Unfortunately due
to poor documentation most
of his ideas were lost.
The World’s First Programmer?
• 1842 - Ada Augusta King, Countess
of Lovelace, translates Menabrea's
pamphlet on the Analytical Engine,
adding her own notes, and becomes
the world's first programmer.
• 1847 - 1849 - Babbage continues
working on the 2nd version of the
Difference Machine and draws plans
for it. In 1991 the Science Museum in
Kensington, England build the 2nd
version (using 19th century
More Milestones (‫) אבני דרך‬
• 1854 - George Boole describes his system for
symbolic and logical reasoning that becomes later
the basis for computer design.
• 1890 - Herman Hollerith won the competition for the
delivery of data processing equipment to assist in
the processing of the data from the 1890 US
Census (‫) מפקד אוכלוסין‬. The company he founded,
Hollerith Tabulating Company (HTC), was merged
with 2 other companies to become CTR (1914) and
was renamed International Business Machines
(IBM) in 1924. This set the trend for 3 letter names
in the computer industry.
Another end to WW2?
• 1935 - 1938 Konrad Zuse, in Berlin, Germany,
developed his Z-1 computer using binary
arithmetic, in his parent's living room. He continued
with the Z-2 in 1938 with the help of Helmut
• During World War II he applied to the German
Government for assistance in building his
machines, but he was turned down on the basis
that it would take longer to complete his work than
the government expected the war to last.
• 1936 - 1939 - John Vincent Atanasoff, with John
Berry, developed the the ABC -- the AtanasoffBerry Computer -- at Iowa State University, USA as
a special purpose machine for the solution of sets
of linear equations in Physics. Perhaps the earliest
example of an electronic calculator, the ABC
contained concepts that would appear later in
"modern computers" -- the ALU and rewriting
• But this computer (as Zuse’s) is still not considered
by most as the true first electronic computer.
Computerized Warfare
• 1943 - The Colossus built in England by a team
led by Alan Turing, was a special purpose computer
used to break the German code
ULTRA encrypted using the ENIGMA
machines. Breaking the German code
was one the the keys to the success
of the D-Day invasion.
• 1944 - The Harvard Mark I (and later II, III and IV)
were general purposed electromechanical
calculators (sponsored by the US Navy) to compute
artillery and navigation tables - the same purpose
as intended by Babbage for the Difference Engine.
The First Bug
• 1945 - Grace
Murray Hopper,
at Harvard
University on the
Mark II computer,
found the first
computer bug
beaten to death
in the jaws of a
relay. She glued it
into the logbook
of the computer.
ENIAC, The 1st Electronic Computer
• 1943 - Work on ENIAC was started
in at the University of Pennsylvania,
with John Mauchly and J. Presper
Eckert responsible for its
implementation. The US Army liaison
(‫ ) קישור‬was Herman Goldstine.
• 1946 - ENIAC was unveiled in Philadelphia (having
being a secret during the war). ENIAC was
programmed through the rewiring of the
interconnections between the various components.
ENIAC was later to be modified into a stored
program machine
More About ENIAC
• ENIAC was a general purpose computer used for
computing artillery tables.
• It was U shaped, 25m long, 2.5m high and 1m wide
• ENIAC used 18,000 vacuum tubes.
• Programming was done by plugging cables and
setting switches. Data was entered by punched
• Programming for typical calculations took from half
a hour to a day.
• ENIAC was 2 magnitudes (‫ ) סדר גודל‬larger and 4
magnitudes slower than modern computers (1900
adds per sec).
Photo of the ENIAC
Another Photo of the ENIAC
The von Neumann Computer
• 1944 - John von Neumann joined the ENIAC
project. The idea of storing programs as numbers
was proposed.
• 1945 - von Neumann wrote a memo proposing a
stored-program computer called EDVAC. Goldstine
distributed the memo, put von Neumann’s name on
it and omitted Eckert’s and Mauchly’s names.
• Most computer historians agree the von Neumann
received far more credit than he deserved.
• The most prestigious (‫ ) יוקרתי‬award in the field of
Computer Architecture is the Eckert-Mauchly
The Transistor
• 1947 - William
Shockley, John
Bardeen, and Walter
Brattain invent the
"transfer resistance"
device, later to be
known as the transistor
that will revolutionize
the computer and give
it the reliability that
could not achieved
with vacuum tubes.
Late 40s, Early 50s
• 1948 - T.J. Watson Sr ordered the building of the
Selective Sequence Control Computer (SSEC)
for IBM.
• 1949 - the first large-scale, fully functional, storedprogram electronic digital computer was developed
by Maurice Wilkes and the staff of the
Mathematical Laboratory at Cambridge University.
It was named EDSAC.
• 1951 - UNIVAC I built by Remington-Rand and
designed by Eckert and Mauchly was sold to the
US government for 1,000,000$. 48 systems were
built and sold.
The 1950s
• IBM comes out with a series of computers (701,
702, 650, 305, 704). Jean Amdahl is IBM’s chief
• Memory is upgraded to core memory and magnetic
tapes to disks with movable read/write heads.
• 1957 - Fortran, one of the first prgramming
languages in introduced.
• 1958 - Integrated Circuit invented.
• 1959 - Seymour Cray starts working at CDC as its
chief architect.
The 1960s
• 1962 - First IC computer built by Fairchild.
• 1963 - ASCII code invented.
• 1964 - IBM/360 introduced.
• 1965 - Digital Equipment Corporation introduced
the PDP-8, the first TRUE minicomputer.
• 1969 - Work on ARPAnet (the predecessor of the
Internet) begins.
The 1970s (1st half)
• 1971 - First microprocessor: The Intel 4004. First
Floppy disk as well. These 2 inventions are the
roots of personal computing.
• 1973 - Ethernet invented at Xerox.
• 1974 - First ATM ( ‫) כספומט‬
• 1975 - First PC. the MITS Altair 8800. $375, 256
bytes of memory (not 256k),but had no keyboard,
no display, and no auxiliary storage device.
• Later, Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote their first
product for the Altair -- a BASIC compiler (named
after a planet on a Star Trek episode).
The 1970s (2nd half)
• 1976 - Cray-1. First Super Computer announced.
• 1976 - Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak produced
the Apple II that was assembled and complete with
its own keyboard and monitor.
The IBM PC Introduced
• 1981 - IBM entered the field in
with the IBM "PC" and supported
by the DOS operating system
developed under an agreement
that gave Microsoft all the profits
in exchange for the development
costs having been borne by
Microsoft. The PC’s
microprocessor was the Intel
• 1982 - Computer chosen as Man
of the Year by Time magazine.
Apple’s Macintosh
• 1984 - Based on the
Alto by Xerox the
Macintosh is
introduced. The mouse
and the icon became
the major tools for
computer interaction.
Cray’s Supercomputers
• From 1976 until it was purchased by SGI (Silicon
Graphics) in 1995, Seymour Cray and his company
were the leaders in the field of supercomputers.
Shown is the CRAY X-MP with 4 processors.
RISC and Workstations
• In the early 80s two groups at Berkeley (led
by David Patterson) and at Stanford (led by
John Hennesy) invented the concept of RISC
(Reduced Instruction Set Computers). The
microprocessors which emerged from these
2 projects the MIPS and SPARC are used in
most modern workstations.
• Coupled with the UNIX operations system
these systems are the main tool of engineers
in these days.