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.
Dom Keen says
This article is not quite right. Babbage’s design wasn’t actually a computer, it was actually more of a calculator with slide rule properties (logorithmic tables). The theoretical father of computing is actually John von Neumann, but firstly built by Alan Turing named the “Universal Turing Machine”. This had the first Abbreviated Computer Instructions, the first form of a programming language. 10th May 1950 was the first time it ran. Furthermore, the first compiler was made by Alick Glennie (British). At the time, it was called an “autocoder”, but the name was later changed to “compiler” because the name was a better representation of what it performed. Also, Alick worked with Alan Turing, so. There is lots of published information about Grace Hopper, however what their team built was called a “Linker” and not a “compiler”. It linked instructions to actions by the computer, and didn’t perform actions which are attributed to the concept of a “compiler” as Alick’s AutoCoder is. Thanks, and hope you can correct the details on the page “who-invented-computers”. As mentioned, the first actual computer was the “Pilot Model ACE”. EDVAC (delivered in late 1949, but really used from 1951) was a calculator (the first binary calculator, in comparison to its predecessor which was decimal – like Babbage’s Analytic Machine (which was never built until the 1990s)). Thanks for reading