Computer History

History of Computers
  • Blaise Pascal, 1623-62, French mathematician, physicist, religious philosopher, writer and scientific inventor, invented the Pascaline, the first significant calculating machine. The numbers to be added together were dialed in via a row of numbered wheels at the bottom of the machine and the result showed in square windows at the top.
  • Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, 1646-1716, German philosopher, jurist, historian and scientist, constructed an improved version of the Pascaline. In 1679, he perfected the binary system of notation which is essential to the development of computers.
  • For about a century, there was little advancement in the development of automatic calculating machines. This was due to complexity of the wheels and gears needed to be constructed. In the meantime, a lot of interest was focused on the principles of logic.
  • Charles, 3rd Earl Stanhope, 1753-1816, politician and scientist, invented two calculating machines, for multiplication and division. His first machine was built in 1775.
  • George Boole, 1815-1864, logician and mathematician, was the first to demonstrate clearly that logic was a branch of mathematics and not of philosophy. He devised ‘Boolean’ algebra which used algebraic symbols to denote operations such as ‘not’, ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘if’, etc. vs. quantity of say, sums and numbers.
  • Charles Babbage, 1792-1871. In the last decade of the eighteenth century, one of the world’s most remarkable inventors was born. His name was Charles Babbage. A mathematician and inventor, he was born in England in 1792 and the son of a wealthy banker. He is called the ‘Father of Computing’ after his invention of the Analytical Engine. The idea of calculating mathematical tables mechanically came to him around 1812. Thereafter, he devoted nearly 40 years and a large part of his own fortune together with Government grants to his project. He ultimately invented the Analytical Machine which was truly programmable and recognizable as a computer. It was steam driven and programmed via machined cards. The Analytical Engine designed by Charles Babbage is recognized as the world’s first general-purpose computer. The Engine was to consist of a calculating unit (the mill), a memory (the store), an input device and control section (both based on Jacquard punched cards), and a printer.

Charles Babbage and the Analytical Engine

History of the Internet
  • In the mid 1960’s, during the Cold War, there was a need for a bomb-proof communications system. A concept was devised to link computers together from across the country. If large sections of the country were nuked, computer messages could still get through.
  • In the beginning, only government “think tanks” and a few universities were linked. The Internet was basically an emergency military communications system operated by the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA). The entire operation was referred to as ARPANET.
  • In time, ARPANET-computers were installed at every university in the United States that had defense related funding. Gradually, the Internet had gone from a military pipeline to a communications tool for scientists. As more scholars came on-line, the administration of the system transferred from ARPA to the National Science Foundation.
  • Years later, businesses began using the Internet and the administrative responsibilities were once again transferred. Currently, no one party “operates” the Internet, there are several entities that “oversee” the system and the protocols that are involved.


What is the World Wide Web?
  • The World Wide Web (known as “WWW’, “Web” or “W3”) is the universe of network-accessible information, the embodiment of human knowledge.
  • The World Wide Web began as a network information, where Tim Berners-Lee, now Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, developed a vision of the project.
  • The web began in the late 1980’s when physicist Dr. Berners-Lee wrote a small computer program for his own personal use. This program allowed pages within his computer, to be linked together using keywords. It soon became possible to link documents in different computers, as long as they were connected to the Internet. The document formatting language used to link documents is called HTML (Hypertext Markup Language.)
  • The Web remained primarily text based until 1992. Two events occurred that year that would forever change the Internet’s appearance. Marc Andreesen developed a new computer program called the NCSA Mosaic (as in the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois) which was the first Web browser. The browser made it easier to access different Web sites. Soon Web sites contained more than just text, they also had sound, graphics and video files.