Who invented the computer?
We could argue that the abacus or its descendant was the first computer, the slide rule that was invented by William Oughtred in 1622. But between 1833 and 1871, British mathematician Charles Babbage imagined and designed the Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine was the first computer resembling today's modern machines. Before Charles Babbage came in the field of computer science, the "computer" was a person, someone who actually sat around the whole day. It worked by adding and subtracting numbers and providing output into tables. Then these tables are copied into books through which other people can use tables to solve problems, such as calculating taxes or launching artillery shells accurately.
In fact, it was a great project that motivated Babbage in the first place. When Napoleon Bonaparte was instructed to switch the new metric system from the old imperial system of measurements, then in 1790, he started the project. The outcomes of human computers completed the tables and made the necessary changes for 10 years. In Paris, Bonaparte collecting dust in the Académie des Sciences, and he was never able to publish the tables.
After a page of tables, Babbage viewed the unpublished manuscript with page while visiting the City of Light in 1819. He thought to produce the faster tables that would have less manpower and fewer mistakes and also wondered about many marvels generated by the Industrial Revolution. When inventors can develop the steam locomotive and the cotton gin, so why can they not be developed the machine to perform calculations.
Charles Babbage decided to develop such a type of machine when he comes back to England. The first vision of Babbage was something that worked on the principle of finite differences; he gave it name the Difference Engine. The Difference Engine may work on making complex mathematical calculations with the help of repeated addition without using multiplication or division. Then in 1832, he got fund by the government and perfecting his idea spent eight years. His funding had run out, only to produce a functioning prototype of his table-making machine.
Charles Babbage and the Analytical Engine
Babbage was working continuously without getting discouraged. He turned his attention to a wonderful idea and built the Analytical Engine rather than simplifying his design of the Difference Engine to make it easier. The Analytical Engine was a new type of mechanical computer, which had the ability to solve more complex calculations, including multiplication and division.
The basic parts of the Analytical Engine are much similar to the computer component, which are sold in the today market. It included features two hallmarks of any modern machine; one was for memory and the second for central processing unit, or CPU. But he gave the name mill to CPU, and store to Memory. He also had a device that was known as a reader, used to give instructions and to record generated outputs by the machine on the paper. Babbage gave the named printer and the predecessor of laser and inkjet printers to this output device.
The new invention of Babbage almost entirely existed on the paper. He wrote notes and sketches in detail about his computers around 5000 pages. As he had a clear vision about the machine, how will it look and works; hence, he never built a prototype to develop the Analytical Engine. In 1804-05, a weaving machine was developed by using the same technology used by the Jacquard loom, which was able to create a variety of cloth patterns automatically, and made it possible to data will be entered on punched cards. The computer can store up to 1,000 50-digit numbers. Also, punched cards would be able to transmit the instructions, which the machine could be capable of executing the instructions in sequential order.
Unfortunately, Babbage's ambitious design could not accept the technology of the day. His specific ideas were finally converted into a functioning computer; it was not until 1991. That is the reason the Science Museum made the exact specifications to Babbage's Difference Engine in London. It stands more than 3 meters long and 2 meters tall (11 feet long and 7 feet tall), contains 15 tons weighs and 8000 moving parts. In Mountain View, California, a copy of the machine was built and shipped to the Computer History Museum. Until December 2010, it remained on display.