The History of Computers in 5 Minutes

By Richard Grant •  Updated: 01/01/23 •  3 min read

The history of computers is long and storied, stretching back thousands of years. While the modern computer may seem like a recent invention, its roots can be traced back to ancient civilizations and the development of the earliest calculating tools.

One of the earliest known calculating tools is the abacus, a device used by ancient civilizations such as the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. The abacus consists of a frame with a series of beads that can be moved along wires or rods and was used to perform basic arithmetic calculations.
In the 16th century, the development of mechanical calculating devices began to accelerate. The first was the mechanical calculator, which Wilhelm Schickard invented in 1623. This device was capable of performing basic arithmetic calculations but was limited in its capabilities and was not widely adopted.
In the 19th century, Charles Babbage designed and built the first mechanical computer, known as the Difference Engine. This machine was designed to calculate and print tables of mathematical functions and was considered the first true computer. However, it was never completed due to funding issues and technical challenges.

The first electronic computer was developed during World War II, in an effort to crack the Nazi’s Enigma code. The machine, known as the Colossus, was developed by a team led by Alan Turing and was used to decrypt messages encrypted by the Enigma machine.

After the war, the development of electronic computers continued at a rapid pace. In the 1950s, the first commercial computers were introduced, and by the 1960s, computers were being used in businesses, universities, and government agencies around the world.

The development of the microprocessor in the 1970s marked a major milestone in the history of computers. The microprocessor, which is a small chip that contains the central processing unit (CPU) of a computer, made it possible to build smaller, more powerful computers that were more affordable and accessible to the general public.

In the 1980s, the personal computer (PC) revolutionized the way that people used computers. With the introduction of the IBM PC and the Macintosh, computers became more user-friendly and accessible to a wider audience.

Since the 1980s, the development of computers has continued at a rapid pace, with the introduction of new technologies such as the internet, mobile computing, and cloud computing. Today, computers are an integral part of our daily lives and are used in a wide range of industries, from medicine and science to entertainment and business.

The history of computers is fascinating, and the development of computers will likely continue to evolve and advance in the future. Who knows what the next great innovation in computing will be?

Richard Grant

Despite Richard's background being in computer science and database admin, his passion lies in helping business leaders to understand the importance of emerging technology to help improve their company.