When the word computer was first used, it meant a person who performed calculations as a job, such as a mathematician, or accountant. This was essentially the definition for about 200 years, until it gradually evolved to become a machine that the exact same calculations. In other words, in the 1800s, a simple four function calculator that you probably could buy at the dollar store would have been considered a computer, and a rather cool looking and extremely expensive one for that matter. The machine most people consider the first computer was the difference engine. Invented by Charles Babbage in 1822, this machine was designed to calculate sums and products of numbers, and make copies of the results, much like a calculator. However, unfortunately, Babbage died before this machine could be finished, so it was never fully built. Babbage also made plans to build the analytical engine, another computer that was designed to make simple calculations, much like the difference engine, only it had more functions, and was better at it (Consider it a difference engine 2.0.). However, he lacked the sufficient funds for this project (Like that’s never happened before.), so this machine was never built either. To the average guy today, these so called machines are not even considered calculators, much less computers. These machines were considered to be the best computing devices of the day though, even though they couldn’t be programmed to do simple tasks, like the machines most of us dub the computer. However, these machines wouldn’t be invented until a century later, when the age of modern computing finally began (I really would’ve gotten pretty annoyed waiting that long!)
Early 1900s In the 1900s, luckily for us, computing started to really advance. In 1936, a random guy somewhere in Germany named Conrad Zuse had nothing to do one day, so he went into his parents’ living room, amassed a bunch of parts, and started tinkering around, building something he thought would turn out to be really cool. He continued doing this for two years (I know. He was pretty committed!) until he finally created the first programmable computer, the Z1, which was pretty cool. This computer ran on punch tapes, which were used as a code that the computer ran on, similar to how computers today run using binary code. Different tapes could be used to perform different tasks, so this computer is considered the first modern programmable computer. Zuse continued to make the Z2, Z3, and Z4, all early computers.
In 1943, the first truly electronic computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, or ABC for short, was created. This computer ran on vacuum tubes and did simple binary math. At about the same time, the ENIAC, another early computer, was created. Both of these computers ran on about 18,000 vacuum tubes, occupied 1800 square feet, and weighed almost 50 tons. ENIAC required its own special crew to use, and took up several rooms. Naturally, it wasn’t very handy, and parts constantly broke, not to mention the risk of the machine melting down into a large goopy mess (No, not really like that, but parts did overheat and melt if not properly maintained.), so I wouldn’t have wanted to have this machine in my house. Pretty soon, a couple of guys started realizing that this was not going to cut it, and decided that they would be the first to build the personal computer, or PC.
Beginning of Personal Computing In 1975, several companies started producing