The Best Inventions in Computing

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In this blog, we look at some of the best inventions in computing. We have gathered, in our opinion, the most monumental innovations and milestones, in the world of I.T. and tech, which have paved the way for today’s technology.

Without these early inventions changing the course and development of computing, we would not be where we are today. Let’s take a look.

The First Computer: The Difference Engine (1821)

Charles Babbage, named ‘the Father of Computer’ devised the Difference Engine, a proposed mechanical computer that could give mathematical tables as its output, based on the principle of finite differences. It was commissioned by the British Government, however, due to production costs, budgets were cut and it was never finished.

The First General Purpose Programmable Electronic Computer: ENIAC (1946)

The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) funded by the US Army was programmed to complete complex operations and was also 150 feet wide! The ENIAC could solve a wide range of numerical problems by reprogramming. It functioned by using card readers for input and card punches for output. It also helped with feasibility calculations of the world’s first hydrogen bomb.

The First Personal Computer: Simon (1950)

‘Simon’ was designed for educational purposes in order to demonstrate the very first concept of the affordable digital computer. Edmund Berkley’s invention was created so that users entered data via punched paper and the output was by the five keys on the front panel. Performing the four operations - selection, greater than, negation and addition - it used punched tape for memory storage alongside data entry.

The First Touchscreen (1965)

The first touchscreen was finalised in 1965 by E.A. Johnson and the concept is still utilised today. It was employed by air traffic controllers until the 1990s. It was a capacitive touch screen panel that registered a single point of contact without pressure sensitivity. E.A. Johnson described it as: “Touch display – a novel input/output device for computers”.

The First Mobile Phone (1973)

The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X: the first commercial mobile phone. Offering thirty minutes’ talk time, 10 hours charging time and storage of just thirty contacts, the mobile phone cost around £3,000 and weighed a whopping 1.1kg! Known as “the brick” to industry insiders, when the phone was finalised, Martin Cooper, a senior engineer at Motorola, made a point of calling a rival telecommunications company to tell them he was calling via a mobile phone.

World Wide Web (1989)

British Computer Scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 as a result of trying to find a way for scientists to share data from scientific experiments. He thought of using the internet, which already existed, as a way of connecting each page to another. As a result, Tim Berners-Lee made the internet accessible to all by use of the World Wide Web and the use of three simple combined methods: HTML, URL and HTTP.

Technology is changing and advancing at a dynamic pace, with new inventions constantly being launched, particularly from the tech giants such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Without these early innovations in computing the technology we know and love such as WiFi, smartphones, tablets and the Cloud, wouldn’t exist!

For more significant computer inventions, head over to our Techspiration series: Grace Hopper, Konrad Zuse, and Mary Berners-Lee.

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