The Interesting History and Evolution of Computers!

To start I would like to quote some predictions of the influential people in the past about computers which shows how much computers have revolutionized the world.

 I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
– Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943 

Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.
– Popular Mechanics, 1949 

There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. 
             –Ken Olson, CEO, Digital Equipment Corp., 1977 


Let’s look at what is a computer and the history and evolution of computers!


  • A computer is a machine that

–        inputs (takes in) facts and information (known as data*)

–        then processes (does something to or with) it

–        can also store data

–        afterwards it outputs, or displays, the results for you to see

* Data is all kinds of information, including, pictures, letters, numbers, and sounds


  • The defining feature of modern computers which distinguishes them from all other machines is that they can be programmed

–        a list of instructions (the program) can be given to the computer e.g.,

–        add one number to another

–        move some data from one location to another

–        send a message to some external device, etc

–        it will store them (in memory)

–        and carry them out (execute) some time in future

–        Usually in the same order in which the instructions were given


  • The first use of the word “computer” was recorded in 1613

–        referring to a person who carried out calculations, or computations !

–        The word continued to be used in that sense until the middle of the 20th century

-          before modern electronic computers were developed


  •       The history of computers begins with two separate technologies

–        Automated Calculation

–        Programmability


  •      Computer in the history were mechanical calculating devices such as

–        Abacus, 3000 B.C

–        Slide rule

abacus The Interesting History and Evolution of Computers!

Chinese Abacus: for performing arithmetic processes

slide rule The Interesting History and Evolution of Computers!

Slide Rule: for performing multiplication, division, computing roots, logarithms, trigonometric functions

  • ENIAC - Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer - was the first general-purpose electronic computer developed around 1946
  • operated at 5 kIPS [thousand instructions per second]
  • weighed 30 tons
  • size was roughly 8.5 x 3 x 80 feet
  • contained around 5 million hand-soldered joints
  • consumed 150 kW of power; enough to dim the lights of Philadelphia when it was run!
  • Input was given from an IBM card reader
  • An IBM card punch was used for output

–  Today’s desktops can perform 10000+ MIPS


eniac The Interesting History and Evolution of Computers!

                                                            Working on, rather, ‘inside’ ENIAC.


punch The Interesting History and Evolution of Computers!

IBM Punch Card: Programs and data were punched by hand or a key-punch-machine and read into a card reader.

A brief description about the types of modern computers with whom most of you would be familiar:

1   Microcomputers

–        These are the most widely used and the fastest-growing type of computers. There are two major categories:

  1.   Desktop Computers are small enough to fit on top or along the side of a desk and yet are too big to carry around.
  • Personal Computers
  • Workstations

alienware main The Interesting History and Evolution of Computers!



2.       Portable Computers are small enough and light enough to move easily from one place to another.

  • Laptops: 10-16 pounds in weight
  • Notebooks: 5-10 pounds in weight
  • Subnotebooks: 2-6 pounds in weight
  • Personal Digital Assistants: Also known as palmtop computers and handheld PCs. They combine pen input, writing recognition and communication capabilities such as iphone 5, samsung galaxy s3 stc


2   Minicomputers

  •   They are desk size machines.
  •   They fall between microcomputers and mainframe computers in their processing speeds and data-storing capabilities.
  •   They might be used for research or monitoring a particular manufacturing process.
  •   Smaller companies have been using minicomputers for their data processing needs such as accounting/billing systems.


3   Mainframe Computers

  •   These are large computers.
  •   They are capable of great processing speeds and data-storing.
  •   They are used by large organizations – business, banks, government agencies etc – to handle millions of transactions.
  •   For example, airline companies use mainframe computers  to process information about millions of travelers.


4   Supercomputers

  •  The most powerful type of computer is the supercomputer.
  •  These machines are special, high-capacity computers used by very large organizations.
  •  For example, NASA uses supercomputers to track and control space explorations.
  •  Supercomputers are also used for oil exploration, simulations and worldwide weather forecasting.



References[1, 2, 3, 4 ,5 , 6, 7]

ArslanH is an Electrical Engineering student who has a keen interest in the latest gadgets and upcoming technologies. He likes to share interesting knowledge with the readers of technonymous. Arslan is also the founder of a freelancing marketplace GigLegend.


  1. Hi Arslan,

    This was the longest and most informative post I’ve ever seen.

    I’m fond of computers since my childhood and go crazy about it :D
    I hope one day I will be owning a Supercomputer :P

    Thanks for the explaining the historic evolution of Computers and commenting on my blog

    Keep visiting :D
    Mohammed Abdullah Khan recently posted..8 Ways To Make Sure You Scare Away Your Unique VisitorsMy Profile

    • ArslanH says:

      Thanks for your comment Abdullah! Good to know about your interest in computers and I hope you own a supercomputer one day :D

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