Who invented the computer?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Paper tapes, used as information storage for control purposes were first employed in the 1720s by Basile Bouchon and Jean-Baptiste Falcon to control looms. By changing tapes, one could quickly reprogram the loom to weave different patterns. Joseph Jacquard more fully automated loom control with punched cards in 1801. These cards were used by Babbage in his computing machines to order the sequence of calculations.

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) is considered by many to be the inventor of the computer. He designed two machines, a "difference engine" and an "analytical engine" which used algorithms to calculate complex equations algorithmically.

The first programmer was Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace (1815-1852), daughter of the famous Romantic poet Lord Byron. In 1843, Ada developed a plan for how his machines could calculate Bernoulli numbers; this plan is normally credited as the first computer program.

More complex calculating and tabulating machines evolved in the early twentieth century, until the first general purpose electronic computer, the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), was developed in 1941-1945.

Soon after the invention of the computer was the discovery by Grace Hopper of the first computer bug, a moth trapped in a relay of the Harvard University Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator on 9 September, 1945.




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ognesperanza | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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It could be argued that the abacus is the first device for ‘computing, invented in Chine between 2600 BC and 300 BC- it was used for tabulating numbers and


The "difference engine" conceived in 1786 by J.H. Müllerr is arguably the first of device like a computer.  Müllerr’s  devices was never built, and the plans were discovered by Charles Babbage in 1822, who is credited as creating the first computer.    Babbage’s device used a crank handle and a number system, sort of like a massive calculator, and was part funded by the British Government.  It was later improved as a general analytical engine but later returned and produced an improved design (his "Difference Engine No. 2") between 1834 and 1869.

If you mean Electronic Computer that would be recognisable by modern standards then Alan Turing from Cambridge UK, in the employ of the British Governent created a machine to crack the enigma codes named Colossus, which was the worlds first digital, electronic computing device.  Much of Turing’s work was top secret until recently. 

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fact-finder | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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English mathematician Charles Babbage (1792–1871) designed a mechanical computing machine called the "analytical engine." It is considered the forerunner of the digital computer, a programmable electronic device that stores, retrieves, and processes data.

While attending Cambridge University in 1812, Babbage conceived of the idea of a machine that could calculate data more rapidly than existing computing methods, and without human error. The Industrial Revolution (a period of technological development; c. 1750–c. 1850) had been underway for more than half a century, and the world was becoming increasingly complex. Human errors in mathematical tables posed serious problems for many rapidly growing industries. After graduating from Cambridge, Babbage returned to the idea of developing a device to facilitate computation. Beginning work in 1834, he spent the rest of his life and much of his fortune trying to build such a machine. Babbage's device used punch cards to store data, and was intended to print answers. Although he was unable to complete his invention, the "analytical engine" was the forerunner of the modern digital computer.

More than one hundred years later the first fully automatic calculator was invented—development began in 1939 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Under the direction of mathematician Howard Aiken (1900–73), the first electronic digital computer, called Mark I, was invented in 1944. (The Mark II followed in 1947.) In 1946 scientists at the University of Pennsylvania completed ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator), the first all-purpose electronic digital computer. ENIAC was operated by 18,000 vacuum tubes, which required a great deal of power and generated a considerable amount of heat. The first computer to handle both numeric and alphabetical data with equal facility was the UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer), developed between 1946 and 1951, also at the University of Pennsylvania.

Further Information: Aspray, William, ed. Computing Before Computers. Ames, Ia.: Iowa State University Press, 1990; Campbell-Kelly, Martin, and William Aspray. Computer: A History of the Information Machine. New York: Basic Books, 1996; "Charles Babbage." MSN Encarta. [Online] Available http://www.encarta.msn.com/find/search.asp?search=babbage%2C+charles, November 8, 2000.

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ravu91 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Charles Babbage invented the concept of a programmable computer in about 1856.

It partly depends on what you mean by "computer", but the earliest claim is that Charles Babbage invented the first programmable computer in 1822. The machine was called a "difference engine" and it was intended to generate mathematical tables. This machine contained 25,000 parts and weighed 15 tons. Babbage followed this with a "difference engine 2" which, although well funded, was never completed. Babbage also designed a printer to go along with the computer, but this also was never completed. In 1989-1991, the London science museum made a difference engine 2 and printer from Babbage's design. Both worked perfectly
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ohoboho | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

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This question does not necessarily have an answer because there have been many different creations that fit under the definition of computer. However it is accepted that  Charles Babbage is the father of the first computer and that was the Analytical Engine, which was not what a computer is today and did not use the Von Neumann architecture, but it could store memory and was programable.

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Zac Egs | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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Personally I think that it is not easy to give a true answer since many scientists and researchers contributed to the invention of this device. We can suggest that (inter alia) Dupont de Nemours was one of its great theoreticians.



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