100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time

By Kendall Haven | Go to book overview

Digital Computer
Year of Invention: 1943

What Is It? An electronic machine capable of rapid, repetitive calculations, of
user interface, and of branching logic decisions.

Who Invented It? Howard Aiken (in Cambridge, Massachusetts)


Why Is This Invention One of the 100 Greatest?

Programmable computers govern and control how we do much of what we do. Computers do for information what DNA does for life. They will define it and provide organization, direction, and control for information and information sharing. Virtually all of our activity, development, knowledge, and scheduling are now keyed to a computer. Education, production, and vital decision making are linked to the computer. Every facet of modern life depends on, or is linked to, the programmable computer.


History of the Invention

What Did People Do Before?

The first mechanical device developed to perform math was the abacus, an early adding machine that used beads for counters. Devices like an abacus were drawn in the sand for individual computations by early Babylonians. Some clever, unknown Egyptian was the first to build a wood and metal abacus. About the same time, a similar abacus appeared in China.

In the early part of the seventeenth century the Scotsman John Napier created an early version of a slide rule, called “Napier’s Bones.” Made of ivory or wood, these strips could slide next to each other to perform multiplication. By the end of that century, formal slide rules were in use throughout Europe.

The first step toward a true computing machine came in the mid-nineteenth century, when Englishman Charles Babbage envisioned a machine capable of performing complex calculations. Babbage could draw his machine on paper, but he could not build it because factories of the day could not produce the precision parts he needed.

Babbage’s assistant, Ida Lovelace, recognized the need to create simple, repetitive groups of commands to make the machine run efficiently. She created the first computer language.

-231-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
100 Greatest Science Inventions of All Time
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 336

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.