Charles Babbage – British mathematician Charles Babbage invented computers in 1822.
In the year 1786 the ‘Difference Engine’ was first thought of by J.H. Muller who was an engineer in the Hessian army. He described his ideas in a book but was unable to attract funding to develop the concept any further. A ‘difference engine’ is a basic form of automatic mechanical calculation, the first calculator.
Though the concept of calculation and its difficulties had been addressed for many centuries prior with the creation of a variety of abacus systems mentioned as far back as the Chinese civilisation 2 centuries BC. The next significant advancement following the abacus was the invention of the slide rule in 1622 by William Oughtred.
In 1822 Charles Babbage, famous as “the father of the computer” resurrected Muller’s idea and proposed the use of such a machine to the Royal Astronomical Society in the UK. Word spread and Babbage secured funding from the UK Government in 1824 to start work on creating a prototype. Babbage worked for another 8 years before producing a working prototype in 1832 but by then the Government funding had run out.
Undeterred by lack of funding and encouraged by the proof of concept with the working prototype, Babbage began working to construct a far more complicated machine which was to resemble the modern computers of today. He called this machine the ‘Analytical Engine’ which unlike the ‘Difference Engine’ which could only add and subtract, he envisaged the ‘Analytical Engine’ performing multiplication and division and other more difficult calculations.
This machine had a ‘mill’ which was the same as the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and a ‘store’ which was the same as memory in modern computers. He also incorporated a form of printing in that the output was generated on paper. The machine could also receive input on punched cards using a ‘card reader’.
Babbage died in 1871 before the ‘Analytical Engine’ could be completed but his invention is recognised as the origin of modern day computer design.