The computer is an instrument that is programmed to carry out many different commands and has literally changed the way that we live and work.
The computer was not invented to perform many activities in the beginning; it was designed to help people calculate numbers more easily.
The history of the computer is therefore, tied closely together with the calculator. The idea of counting (numbers) goes back many centuries, and started out with the invention of the abacus in 500 BC in China.
The term “computer” was first used not to refer to an instrument, but to refer to a person who used to calculate (compute) numbers. Today we understand the word differently.
Then in 1642, Blaise Pascal invented the first automatic calculator that was run by gears and wheels.
In 1801, Joseph-Marie Jacquard’s invention of the punchcard laid the foundation for computer codes that would be the building blocks of computer language in the future.
Jacquard’s punched paper cards were used for weaving textiles. This unique system had threads that had to go through each other in a particular.
It was only in 1833, that the modern computer was finally invented. Charles Babbage invented it but faced many financial problems when it came to developing the machine.
His son, Henry Babbage had better luck, completed his father’s work in 1888, and gave his first public demonstration of calculating tables in 1906.
In the 1880s along with the work of Henry Babbage, Herman Hollerith invented a calculating machine that was able to count and sort information.
In the 1940s Konrad Zuse invented the first electronic computer the Zuse Z3. Computers like this were huge, and used up a lot of electricity.
Suddenly many inventions like the ‘Boolean algebra’, the vacuum tube, punched cards, and tape, and the teleprinter were invented, that together contributed to the improvement of the computer.
The first programmable electronic computer was built by Tommy Flowers in 1943 and was named Colossus.
In the 20th century, analogue computers became the rage. These computers used a standard model to solve many problems, and were therefore difficult to programme.
Digital computers, the ones that we use today, are more flexible, easier to programme and are more correct in their calculations and actions.
George Stibitz is considered the father of the modern digital computer.
Ada Lovelace first introduced computer programmes to the world when she was working with Charles Babbage.
It is Alan Turing however, who is considered the father of modern computer science.
He introduced different types of algorithms; calculations and other information that help the computer run smoothly in 1936. He showed them on the Turing Machine.
As the years went by more people and companies started building computer programmes that increased the programmability of the digital computer.
This increased technology also meant that the computers became faster (to operate), became more powerful, more user friendly, and took up less space.
Computers are doing things that man used to do a few years ago, and have become very popular in the home, workplace and in school.
Even though computers have made our lives easier, we also need to remember that not everything is good and positive about them.
As technology has improved, so have many computer viruses. A computer virus is very much like a virus that causes us diseases.
They are harmful programmes that can stop the computer from working properly, can erase whatever data is stored on it, can sometimes be able to see the data without actually working on the computer (by attacking the computer through the internet – these are called internet viruses), and many other ways.
To protect our machines from so many harmful viruses many programmes have been devised called antivirus software, and malware scanners.
Installing such protective programmes on your computer can greatly reduce the risk of being attacked by a virus.
We must also remember to be careful about the type of information we share about ourselves to others over the internet because it can fall into the hands of bad people.