This page is under construction, but begins to trace the history of hardware.

Prehistory (… – 1641)

The abacus was the first counting tool

The definition of an algorithm (“a written process to be followed to achieve some goal”) was stated by Muhammad ibn Musa Al’Khwarizmi. The word “algorithm” is derived from his name.

Generation 0 (1642 – 1941)

  • Pascaline (after Blaise Pascal): the first calculation machine (addition and substraction). It was not a commercial success as an abacus was cheaper.
    An improvement by Leibniz added multiplication and division.
  • Mechanial: Jacquard owned a loom with punchcards (the first stored program). This lead to the development of the difference engine by Charles Babbage: a calculator for general purposes.
    This difference engine had three main parts:

    • Storage
    • Control 
    • Mill (for counting)

Additions by Augusta Ada (aka Ada Lovelace) led to her becoming the first computer programmer

These developments were influenced by George Boole (after whom the Boolean was named). He defined Boolean algebra and this led to the creation of the binary counting system.

At the end of the 19th century, Herman Hollerith invented a counting machine that would be used for the US census. This was also the origin of IBM (started in 1924).

Konrad Zuse developed a calculator with punch cards at the same time, but independently from Babbage. It was called the Z1.

In 1944, the Harvard Mark 1 (developed by IBM and Harvard) was the first electromagnetic counting machine that worked with relays. This machine was used for the calculation of ammunition targets during WW2.

It is also the origin of the term ‘bug’. The software once stopped working because a moth had been trapped between two panels.

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