The second half of the twentieth century saw the start of the Computer Age. At first, computers were very difficult to use, and only a few people understood them. But soon, computers began to appear in offices and then homes. Today, they are everywhere.
When the first computers were built in the 1940s and 1950s, they were enormous. In fact, they were as big as a room.
In 1640, the French mathematician Blaise Pascal made an Arithmetic Machine. He used it to count money. During the next ten years, Pascal made fifty more machines.
In the 1670s, a German called Leibnitz continued Pascal’s work and made a better machine. Leibnitz’s machine was called the Step Reckoner.
In the 1820s, a British mathematician called Charles Babbage invented a machine that did very difficult calculations automatically.
Babbage did not finish making the Difference Engine because he started work on a machine called an Analytical Engine.
The Analytical Engine could
do more: for example, it had a kind of memory. This meant that it was possible to write programs for it, building on each answer and doing more and more difficult calculations. For this reason, the Analytical Engine is often seen as the first real computer.
In 1957, IBM made a computer called the 610 Auto-Point. They said that it was the ‘first personal computer’.
The first real PCs were not made until fifteen years later.
The first computers (like Colossus) did not have computer chips; they used glass tubes. That is why they were so big.
An American inventor called Ed Roberts used the Intel 8080 chip to make one of the first PCs. He called his PC the Altair 8800.The personal computer was on its way.
In 1976, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started the Apple Computer Company. In 1977, their second computer, the Apple 2, appeared. It was popular, and the company made 700,000 dollars that year.
IBM made their first PC in 1981.
Today’s computer chips are so fast, modern PCs can do amazing things. They can put music onto CDs, and videos onto DVDs, and they can even understand spoken language.