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The History of the Personal Computer and other Computers which have had an impact upon Society

History of the Personal Computer

Home | History of Computer | Computer Timeline | Computers' Impact on Society


The Apple II
The Apple II

When do you think the first development towards the computer was made? Strangely enough, the first computer was actually made by early man. The grooves he cut into his club to count the amount of animals he had captured was a computer as it had two vital components: a way of counting and an a way of remembering something. Thousands of years later the Egyptians also used "computers". When they wanted to count their cargo when trading, they would place stones into grooves in the sand so as to represent the number of things. This is where the adding in columns method began.
 These stones were then replaced years later by beads on a wire to make the first counting machine, the abacus, which is still in use today .
Numbers were then introduced through the system called the Hindu-Arabic system. At this point in time, man's need for more complex calculating systems were slowly being developed.
First Machines that Calculated Invented
 In 1614, John Napier invented Napier's Bones, a system that could be used to do simple division and multiplication.
Blaise Pascal, the great French scientist, invented the first automatic calculator in 1642. It was able to perform  addition and subtraction by a set of wheels interlocked together by gears. The first wheel was the tens, the second the hundreds etc. When a wheel was completely turned, the next wheel turned once.
A German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz improved on Pascal's invention during the 1670's. He added gears which enabled the device to also calculate division and multipliclation. He also looked for a better counting system to handle than the decimal system. Through this he had developed the binary system.
An earlier invention of the punched-card in 1801 by Joseph Marie Jacquard, a French weaver, inspired an English mathematician Charles Babbage. Durings the 1830's, Babbage came up with the idea of a mechanical computer he named the analyctical engine. This machine would store punched-cards for later use to perform other calculations. He worked on this for nearly 40 years but sadly he did not have the funding to build this device.
First Computers Invented
The first successful computer was invented by the American Herman Hollerith which used the punched card system and electronically charged nails to create circuits. This machine was used to record the census of USA in 1890.
John V. Atanastoff was the person who built the first electronic digital computer which was made in 1939. Then in 1944, another digital computer called the Mark 1, was made by the Harvard University professor, Howard Aiken. This machine's operations were controlled mostly by electromechanical relays.
The first general-purpose electronic computer was made by John William Mauchly and J Presper Eckert Jr. in 1946 and then the improved universal automatic computer in 1951 by the same two men.
As time went on, computer began to get smaller and smaller with the replacement of the vacuum tube into the more reliable transistior and the development of the intergrated circuit. With the new advances, computers were becoming more relied on in large companies.
First Personal Computers Invented
Then finally, in 1975, the first personal computer, the Altair, was introduced but only hobbyists bought them.
Steven P. Jobs and Stephen G. Wozniak founded Apple Computer Inc. in 1977 and brought in the Apple II personal computer. This computer cost much less than mainfraimes so as a result, computers were then available to a lot more people. Families,schools and businesses were all buying personal computers.
New Computer Companies Founded
The founding of Microsoft Corporation was by students Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. IBM entered the PC market in 1981 and it was more successful than the Apple II. Microsoft began to develop programs for the PC and the founders Gates and Allen went on to become two of the world's richest men. Apple in 1984 scored another success with the release of its Macintosh, a desktop computer that was powerful and easy-to-use.
Since then computers have continually advanced in speed, power and efficiency. We now have computers with vast amounts of memory and speed with LCD screens. With computer advances happening every year, who knows what it'll be like in the future?    

The Abacus
The Abacus

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak
Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak