Computers through the Ages

Date:18 December 2019 Author: Leila Stein Tags:, ,

Computers are now an integral part of the way we all live. Even if you don’t own a personal computer, your smart phone or the hardware services you use are a run off of the descendants of those early processors. Here is a look back at how far we’ve come in such a short space of time.

The Turing machine

In 1936, Alan Turing presented the idea of a universal machine that could compute anything that was computable. This was later called the Turing machine, which formed the central concept of the modern computer.

ABC Computer

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer invented by John Vincent Atanasoff in the 1940s was the first electronic digital computing device.


The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC) built in the mid-40s, is considered the grandfather of digital computers, but unlike the computers of today that can fit in your pocket, this one filled a 6 by 12 meter room and has 18,000 vacuum tubes.


UNIVAC was built with funding from the US Census Bureau in 1946, it was the first commercial computer for business and government applications.


The IBM 701 EDPM is developed in 1953 to help the United Nations keep tabs on Korea during the war.

The first portable computer

Up until the 1970s, computers took up whole rooms in buildings. This all changed when portable computers hit the market, including the Scelbi & Mark-8 Altair, IBM 5100 and Radio Shack’s TRS-80.

Apple I

Apple Computers, created by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, creates Apple I in 1975, the first computer with a single circuit-board.

Apple II

In 1977, Apple releases Apple II, which has colour graphics and an audio cassette drive.

The rise of the real PC

What we know today as a computer is really encapsulated by the IBM personal computer.  Released in 1981, it used Microsoft’s MS-DOS operating system, has an Intel chop, two floppy disks and a colour monitor. Although used years before this is the computer that popularised the term “PC”

Lisa and the Laptop

Apple, who keep a separate path from IBM and Microsoft, released the Lisa in 1983 to compete on the PC market. Despite being a flop, it was the first computer to look like we know them to today, with a graphic user interface (GUI) that incorporated drop-down menus and icons. This is the same year that the Gavilan SC is released, ushering in the era of a “laptop.”

Microsoft Windows

In response to Apple releasing a computer with GUI, Microsoft announce their Windows operating system in 1985 which paves the way for an easier, anyone-can-use feel to PCs.

Macbook Pro

Computers keep evolving through the 90s and 2000s, with Apple releasing the MacBook Pro, it’s first Intel-based, dual-core computer in 2006.

The iPhone

The “PC” jumps into the era we know today when iPhone is released in 2007. The era of the smartphone is born and computers are small enough to carry around all day with us.

Quantum computing

The future of computing is coming on fast, as we develop faster and smarter computers the next steps seem like they are coming straight out of sci-fi novels. In 2016, the first reprogrammable quantum computer was created in the US. Quantum computing takes computers beyond binary (1s and 0s) upon which our computers today are made.

Picture: Pixabay

Latest Issue :

Jan-February 2022