Computers and electronics play an enormous role in today's society, impacting everything from communication and medicine to science.
Although computers are typically viewed as a modern invention involving electronics, computing predates the use of electrical devices. The ancient abacus was perhaps the first digital computing device.
The introduction of electric power in the 19th century led to the rise of electrical and hybrid electro-mechanical devices to carry out both digital (Hollerith punch-card machine) and analog (Bush’s differential analyzer) calculation. Originally in the form of vacuum tubes, electronic components were rapidly integrated into electric devices, revolutionizing radio and later television. It was in computers however, where the full impact of electronics was felt. In 1822, Charles Babbage conceptualized and began developing the Difference Engine, considered to be the first automatic computing machine. The Difference Engine was capable of computing several sets of numbers and making hard copies of the results. Babbage received some help with development of the Difference Engine from Ada Lovelace, considered by many to be the first computer programmer for her work and notes on the Difference Engine. Unfortunately, because of funding, Babbage was never able to complete a full-scale functional version in 1837, Charles Babbage proposed the first general mechanical computer, the Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine contained an ALU (Arithmetic Logic Unit), basic flow control, punch cards (inspired by the Jacquard Loom), and integrated memory. It is the first general-purpose computer concept. Unfortunately, because of funding issues, this computer In 1910, Henry Babbage, Charles Babbage's youngest son, was able to complete a portion of this machine and was able to perform basic calculations was also never built while Charles Babbage was alive
First programmable computer
The Z1 was created by German Konrad Zuse in his parents' living room between 1936 and 1938. It is considered to be the first electro mechanical binary programmable computer, and the first really functional modern computer
First concepts of what we consider a modern computer
The first electric programmable computer
The Colossus was the first electric programmable computer, developed by Tommy Flowers, and was first demonstrated in December 1943. The Colossus was created to help the British code breakers read encrypted German messages.
The first digital computer
Short for Atanasoff-Berry Computer, the ABC began development by Professor John Vincent Atanasoff and graduate student Cliff Berry in 1937. Its development continued until 1942 at the Iowa State College (now Iowa State University).