Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jul 8, 2016 in Tell Me Why |

Who Invented the Modern Computer?

Who Invented the Modern Computer?

Most histories of the modern computer begin with ‘Analytical Engine’ envisioned by approximately ninety percent of the client operating system market. Charles Babbage following the mathematical ideas of George Boole, the mathematician who first stated the principles of logic inherent in today’s digital computer.

Babbage’s assistant and collaborator, Ada Lovelace, is said to have introduced the ideas of program loops and subroutines, and is sometimes considered the first programmer. Apart from mechanical calculators, the first usable computers began an audible or visible transmission. This was the first compact disc. Eventually, Sony and other audio companies realized the implications of this invention, and purchased licenses for it.

The principle of the modern computer was proposed by Alan Turing, in his seminal 1936 paper, On Computable Numbers. Turing proposed a simple device that he called “Universal Computing machine” that is later known as a Universal Turing machine.

He proved that such machine is capable of computing anything that is computable by executing instructions (program) stored on tape, allowing the machine to be programmable. The fundamental concept of Turing’s design is stored program, where all instruction for computing is stored in the memory.

John Von Neumann acknowledged that the central concept of the modern computer was due to this paper. Turing machines are to this day a central object of study in theory of computation. Except for the limitations imposed by their finite memory stores, modern computers are said to be Turing-complete, which is to say, they have algorithm execution capability equivalent to a universal Turing machine.

The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, nicknamed Baby, was the world’s first stored-program computer. It was built at the Victoria University of Manchester by Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill, and ran its first program on 21 June 1948. It was designed as a testbed for the Williams tube the first random-access digital storage device.

Although the computer was considered “small and primitive” by the standards of its time, it was the first working machine to contain all of the elements essential to a modern electronic computer. As soon as the SSEM had demonstrated the feasibility of its design, a project was initiated at the university to develop it into a more usable computer, the Manchester Mark 1.

The Mark 1 in turn quickly became the prototype for the Ferranti Mark 1, the world’s first commercially available general-purpose computer. Built by Ferranti, it was delivered to the University of Manchester in February 1951. At least seven of these later machines were delivered between 1953 and 1957, one of them to Shell labs in Amsterdam.

In October 1947, the directors of British catering company J. Lyons & Company decided to take an active role in promoting the commercial development of computers. The LEO I computer became operational in April 1951 and ran the world’s first regular routine office computer job.

With the continued miniaturization of computing resources, and advancements in portable battery life, portable computers grew in popularity in the 2000s. The same developments that spurred the growth of laptop computers and other portable computers allowed manufacturers to integrate computing resources into cellular phones.

These so-called smart phones and tablets run on a variety of operating systems and have become the dominant computing device on the market, with manufacturers reporting having shipped an estimated 237 million devices in 2Q 2013.

Content for this question contributed by Philip Trach, resident of Easton, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, USA