There are arguments that the first computer to be invented was the abacus or the scrolling rule, which is its descendant, invented in 1622 by William Oughtred. However, the first machine invented that resembled a computer was the analytical engine. This was a device conceived and designed between 1833 and 1871 by Charles Babbage, a British mathematician.
Before Charles Babbage’s invention, a computer referred to any person who sat all day by subtracting and adding numbers while he was tabulating the results. Later the tables will appear in books for other people to use and complete tasks, such as tax calculations.
Charles Babbage was inspired by a series of numbers in the first place. In 1790, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered a transition from initial imperial measuring systems to a new metric system. For over a decade, human beings (who were essentially computers) calculated the necessary conversions and completed the tables. However, Bonaparte was unable to publish the tables.
Charles Babbage visited the city of light in 1819 where he looked at unpublished tables one after the other. He wondered if there was a way in which such tables would be produced in bulk, faster, with less labor and with fewer errors. Thinking of the many wonders that the Industrial Revolution had generated, he imagined creative inventors working hard to develop cotton gin and the steam engine and he was inspired that even a machine would be made to do calculations.
He returned to England and opted to build a car, with his vision as something he called the engine of difference. This machine worked using finite differences, which meant making difficult mathematical calculations and divisions. In 1824 he secured the idea of the government, after which he spent eighteen years in the perfection of his idea. His financing, however, ran out in 1832 when he produced a working sample of the table-making machine he had imagined.
After this Babbage turned his attention to the analytical engine, which was a wonderful idea. This would make more complex calculations that included multiplication and division. These machine components resembled those of any computer on the market today. It had a CPU and a memory. However, Babbage referred to the CPU as a “mill” and to memory as “the store”. He also had what he called “the reader”, a device he used to insert instructions. He also had a printer that recorded the results his analytical engine had generated on paper.
Charles Babbage’s invention existed on paper and he kept a lot of sketches on computers. Although he never built a single model of the analytical engine, his vision of how it looked and worked was so clear. The technology in those days would not have completed Babbage’s motivated design until 1991. In this year, Babbage’s particular ideas have been put together to create a functioning computer. This was done by the Science Museum of London, which built a Difference engine according to Babbage’s specifications. The machine weighed 15 tons, had moving parts 8,000 and had 11 feet long and 7 feet tall.