History of the Computer

Have you ever given a thought about who invented the computer? The ‘computer’ has gone through a long list of iterations over the years, for example, the original computer used over 18,000 vacuum tubes and occupied  a large amount of space. Today I will be covering the background history of the computers, who watches you on the internet, and the various uses the computer has provided us.

The first computer arrived on 1822 when an English mathematician Charles Babbage creates a steam-powered machine that can compute tables of numbers. Then from the steam-powered machine, the next big creation is a punch card system that calculated the 1880 census designed by Herman Hollerith. This design took about three years to complete, but saved the government over five million dollars.  After he finished, he created a company that would later be known as International Business Machines or better known as IBM. IBM would go on to create the first portable computer available to consumers and become a symbolic company in the history of computer development.

While IBM was a big player in the development of the computer, it was not the only one. Computers evolved from punch card systems in the 1900s to being run by lines of ‘binary code’ (language computers operate on) manually typed in by a user. While functional for people well versed in code it would never be adopted by consumers unless it was simplified dramatically. A small but growing company known as ‘Apple Inc.’ led by the “Pirate of Silicon Valley” Steve Jobs realized the issue and offered the people a solution; the Apple II. The Apple II featured the very first, commercialized Graphical User Interface (GUI) which required the use of a new peripheral: the mouse. The GUI allowed a computer operator to bypass writing lines of code to execute an action, instead the operator could click or interact with more familiar objects that are seen in the operating systems of today. The Apple II went on to cement Apple Inc. as a major player in the computer industry and now a multi-billion dollar company.

The GUI revolutionized the potential for computers to be used by normal people, but there were few programs for them to use. A company called Microsoft changed that with the introduction of programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook which gave the early adopters of personal computers something to do with their machines. Microsoft quickly expanded into a large company and developed their own Operating System (OS) known as Windows which grew into the most widely used in the world.

Windows and Apple eventually clashed over who invented the GUI first, but the credit for that goes to a closed door demo created by IBM. That point became moot as the hardware needed to evolve quickly in order to keep up with the rapid upgrades the GUI brought to computing. A company that makes computer chips Intel had an engineer, Gordon E. Moore that came up with what is now known as, “Moore’s Law.” Moore’s law states that every two years the power of computer chips doubles. Intel took that to heart and his prophecy has held up from 1975 till today.

While the computer was busy growing into what it became today, it had no way of talking to other computers over large distances. Researchers at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) created the ARPANET. The ARPANET was made for researches to have their computers talk to each other which led to the modern internet.

The internet has given us many different uses and most of them are good, but like always there is always someone somewhere who abuses it. This is why we have the NSA. The NSA is the National Security Agency, who has the ability to watch over all the electronics in the United States. The NSA has been around for a long time but not everyone knew about them. Then former NSA agent, Edward Snowden, leaked classified information from the NSA in June 2013. Now we know that we have people watching us on the web.

The computers are being used for several of different reasons for example; almost every business uses a computer for some reason, like Microsoft’s Excel is used when a company sells products to buying and selling stock in the stock market. Since the business world is using computers, schools are also using computers for different reasons like creating Word documents and PowerPoints to creating parts designed for cars. Even in agriculture we use technology for planting, for weather and a lot of other uses.  Now that computers are being used everywhere in just about every job, we have to teach about computers just to find a job.

Let me in by saying there is a lot of many uses that we have for computers that have allowed us to further ourselves in the world. We have talked about the background history of the computers, who watches you on the internet, and the various uses the computer has provided us. So who made your computer? Sound off in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to reply!

-Dylan the Community Manager

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