Who Invented the First Computer and When?

In July 26, 2016

The “first computer” could be the first one made for everyday tasks, the first one a person could manipulate to operate their way, or the first one completely powered by a source of electricity. Each of these models was made by a different innovator at a different time.Old Computer Build


Custom-programmed computing was pioneered by Konrad Zuse. Built in 1936, Zuse’s Z1 machine took instruction from a sheet of plastic which then used binary code to express its response. It would review a command up to 20 straight times, and could simultaneously recall up to 64 words. Though it could be customized electronically, it still needed physical instructions.


Electricity slowly became more involved in computer operations as the decade turned, up to a point in 1942 when it was the foundation of the whole machine. John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry’s ABC calculator depended on no physical communication.


By simply flipping a few switches, the user was able to relay instructions to the machine. Around 3,200 electronic motors read up to 60 numbers simultaneously through vacuum tubes. The ABC was the first computer to figure out what needed to be done without a detour.


Over the next three decades, scientists everywhere tested many new materials and design strategies to improve the speed and agility of computers. Machines originally needed users to guide them bit by bit, but then reached a point where one switch-flip could communicate several bits.


The public would get to see how simple operating one of these machines had become in 1975, when Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) launched the first personal computer. The Altair 8800 could recall 2,048 characters—the equivalent of 1,024 typical words—simultaneously.


25 power channels split data between as many as eight internal drives. The user could freely switch channels on and off, making it simpler for the machine to interpret the submitted details.


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