Although there are many who are credited to have invented the computer, the issue still remains very controversial. The computer is a machine and a phenomenon itself. Since the mid 20th century, computers have swept everything aside to reclaim the center of our life. In deed we can say that the world has become computerized. It might be difficult to explain the impact of computers in the world but it is clear that it is a phenomenon in the way it has transformed our lives. (Somasekher, 2008) From our homes to our work and social places, every move we make we have to use a computer. However, the main issue is who really invented the computer? In this paper we are going to revisit this thorny issue again to find some ground. It will become clear that those who are thought to have invented the machine may actually not be the one. Although there are many who are credited to have invented the computer, the issue still remains very controversial
Invention of computers
The increased use of computer in the modern world since the mid 20th century came with a lot of questions on who really invented the magic machine. There was no one before who was really interested in claiming to have invented the machine. Up to date it remains controversial over who should be credited with having created a phenomenon for the world. The discussion makes grudge boy Bill Gates against Scott McNeally who look to wage a bitter fight over Microsoft doll. However there are different arguments about the origin of computers. For it is claimed that the world computers has been applied in wide case but the true meaning is vested in its changer in the world. “But nowadays, I think it is better to reserve the word “computer” for the type of machine which has swept everything else away in its path: the computer on which you are reading this page, the digital computer with “internally stored modifiable program. “” (Turing.org, 2008) Their argument is centered on two figures that are really though to be the fathers of the modern computer phenomena. This battle is about J. Preper Eckert, John Mauchly of ENIAC fame, and John Atanasoff who was a university professor. The battle over invention of computer lies squarely on the three gentlemen who claim to have transformed human life in a way that was never before. Let us look at individual accreditations. (Carlos, 1997) The Atanasoff claim rolls back to 1930s when he was driving at a 100 mph down a road in Iowa then went to a bar and drank three dark Scotch and water. Then he had a Eureka. He had understood what to do with his base 2 and it was at that time when he jotted on a cocktail napkin his invention which laid down the basic principle of modern computing. It’s really interesting how the modern computing knowledge was preserved on cocktail napkin on his way back. Atanasoff then got $ 650 funding in 1939 and built his Atanasoff Berry computer which could perform on operation after 15 seconds. Then the story gets more interesting. (Many, 1997)
In 1940 he attended a lecture on analogue computer by Mauchly who was excited on his new finding. Atanasoff invited Mauchly for five days in 1941 and Mauchly swiped Atanasoff ideas. Mauchly became a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania during World War II and together with Eckert, they built ENIAC which became very famous while Atanasoff ABC as dismantled. ENIAC could work on five thousand operations in one second and was received with much media attention.
Mauchly and Eckert got patent for the machine and started UNIVAC. But the battle had just started. There ensured a court battles with claim that Mauchly and Eckert had replicated ABC and therefore Atanasoff should be credited with the patent. (Smillie, 2003) There was enough evidence and the court invalidated the patent. But who had really invented the computer which is a modern phenomenon? Did Mauchly really replicate Atanasoff idea? Did ABC really work and how can this be proved? There are many questions to be answered. However these two guys were never the inventors of the computer. They were just working on what other people had done before them. No one knows between the two who really invented the machine. Although Atanasoff could be credited with having created the modern form of computers, where had he got the idea? We also learn that Atanasoff had attended a lecture about modern digital computer which was lectured by Mauchly on his new inventions. What had Mauchly really invented and was it new? Could the two men have come up with the same ideas about the modern computer? No on really knows but the fact is we don’t know who between the two had created the computer.
However the two cannot be created with having invented the machine. The mystery surrounding their invention can be traced back to the earlier work of Charles Babbage in 1840s that had come up with the first Analytical Engine. (Turing.org, 2008) This Analytical Engine could be credited with having being the first real design of modern computer. The engine did not really incorporate the components that define the modern computer but it was a great invention from which other expanded their knowledge. If we argued on the inventions of Atanasoff and Mauchly, they were in the same line with Babbage Electronic machines sine they lacked the essential idea like in Babbage machines. They still used gear wheels and they used the same principles of being machinery to carry out arithmetic and arrange for instructions which are coded in another form and store then somewhere else in order to make the machine work. Since they did not expand Babbage principles then we can credit Babbage with having invented the computer. (Schultz, 2006) Credit to the development of modern computer with modifiable internal programs goes to Alan Turing although he also expanded on the work done earlier.
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