In a sense computers have been around for centuries. The abacus, a counting machine, was invented by the Chinese sometime between 500 and 400 BC. The numeral zero was first recognized and written by Hindu's in 650 AD, without which written calculations would be impossible. In 1623 the great grandfather of the processor was born, the calculating clock. Wilhelm Schickard of Germany invented this adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing machine based on the principle of algorithms. For the next three hundred years or so various machines were invented which could perform calculations but none were any vast improvement over Shickard's clock, perhaps with the exception of Babbage's punch card machine in 1832 (it was never finished).
1910 marked one of the most important times in the history of the computer with the invention of the first electrical automatic computing machine, the Z1, designed by Konrad Zuse in Germany. Finally after three hundred years there was an advance worth writing home about, but the German government had no time for such things as WW1 began to rage through Europe, so sadly Zuse's machine was also never completed. Nevertheless the idea had caught on, and the true father of digital computing, Alan Turing, developed the Colossus, a machine which could decipher code. Alan went on to write essays on the subject of artificial intelligence and began a revolution the likes of which would change the world. Turing's works are still referred to by computer scientists today.
Finally in 1945 the first computer as we know it today was completed, ENIAC as it was called could perform calculations in hours which would take a human years to finish. ENIAC had plenty of drawbacks though, first and foremost its size, and secondly the 18,000 tubes it took to run it. ENIAC and UNIVAC, which came shortly after, were indisputably the greatest advances in technology of all time, but they were still useless to the mass majority due to size, cost and time of...
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