Computers, or any form of it (such as a phone or tablet) are a part of a lot of people’s’ everyday lives. You are probably even using one to read this article. Computers are used for almost everything, but how did this come to be? How did a metal slab become a device where anything is possible?
This is an answer not many people would know. For example, if you ask my brother Jaiden some questions, like what is the binary system, he would say,” What is that?”. Parents on the other hand, like my mom Jean, could know a little about this. If you asked her what is the binary system or how does the computer work she could tell you a little about it. Many people use electronic devices unknowing of how they work. To understand exactly how it works is pretty complicated.
In the early 1600s, the word computer was made. Back then, it was used for describing a person whose job is to compute with numbers, but it did not stay that. A little bit later this word became what we think of it as. A programmable electronic device.
Later in the 1600s a revolutionary mechanism was created. It was the binary system. Created by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the binary system was a way to translate numbers like 2,3,4(etc) to 1s and 0s. This system is used for today’s computers. If you wanted to see the inside of a computer’s coding you would see a bunch of 1s and 0s. In the binary system, if you wanted to translate 38 into 1s and 0s, you would get 00110011 00111000. This provided a way to translate information into a way computers could understand. It was like the beginning of computer language. Being able to give instructions to computers changed them forever.
The first modern computer was developed in 1822. It was called the Difference Engine, and was created by Charles Babbage. The Difference Engine was capable of calculating numbers like today’s calculator. However, this mechanism was very expensive, had a slow calculating speed, and was big, so, it was never mass produced. Today, the original machine is kept in the London science museum.
In 1936, the first programmable computer was made. This was much different from Charles’s machine because it was able to be given instructions. A German man named Konrad Zuse invented the Z1 in this family’s living room. The Z1 was calculater that used the binary system. It was similar to the Difference Engine, but when the math problem was inserted the Z1 could automatically calculate complex problems. This computer calculated by using repeated additions and subtractions, so if it was calculating 2 times 4 it would add 2 four times.
In 1953, the amazing capabilities of a programmable computer was able to be seen. Colossus was a giant electronic, programmable, digital computer that was used by the British to crack German codes. Codebreaker Max Newman worked at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park; he used the machine to turn coded words into regular language. This computer could do things many of the other computers couldn’t do, but this was a gigantic machine. It took up almost the whole building that it was housed in.
When computers were first being made, it was just a bunch of contraptions that moved electronically. This was very inefficient and was very expensive, as in millions of dollars (probably billions because things were cheaper back then), but how did something so most people couldn’t afford get into the hands of many normal people across the globe. The reason for this was the microchip. The microchip is like a bunch of tiny, little machines that send electrical signals to other parts of the chip. Fred Kaplan was the first to create a microchip in the year of 1959. His work took a while, but it was worth the wait. It opened the door to many fascinating gizmos.
With the invention of the microchip a new computer was created, one that would begin the new age of computers. This computer was the Apple 1 created by Apple’s two Steves (Jobs and Wozniak). There were other personal computers out but this brought the most computers to the world. Both Steves contributed to creating and selling this computer, but because Jobs mass produced it, he got most of the credit, even though Wozniak designed and built it. The Apple 1 was by far one of the cheapest computers in its time, 666.66 dollars that is. Even though it seems expensive, it was nothing compared to the price of the Colossus, for example. After the Apple 1, many new computers came about with similar electronic mechanisms. The production of new computers was so rapid, and each one had a smaller contraptions and better machines allowing graphics and many other aspects of computer tech to improve.
This continuously improving technology allowed the mobile phone to develop. The phone was created by Martin Cooper. Martin was a pioneer in harnessing the radio spectrum. His phone was like a mini computer that translated, sent, and received radio signals. Radio waves are a long, wavy form of energy that can travel a large distance. Martin’s device could cause radio waves to carry words in electric signals, coming from the sending device, and have the receiving device hear the message in English or any other language. Phones revolutionized communication.
Computers started out as people who computed with numbers. As people began to tinker with contraptions, things changed. Many people wanted to create something that can automatically work as a non-human powered contraptions. These people searchedfor new ideas and used old ones to improve computers. They were like paleontologist searching for bones. The inventors found these “bones” and put them together to get the computer we have today. It seemed impossible before, but now it is a reality. Computers have opened us into a whole new world of learning and many other new categories. Today, computers have been simplified into mobile, digital devices. With continuously improving technology, there is no telling what will be made next.