People nowadays all around the world are living in a place where computers had become irreplaceable. We use computers in the way or another every day, with or without noticing it at all. We do not only use computers when we are in front of our desk staring at the computer screen, but also when we are doing other every must-doings: We go shopping, supermarket computer scanners calculate the stuff we bought. We go banking, computers can give you all your account information in seconds. We call friends, computerized switching center helps us to get through the traffic of millions of calls. The question is now, where did all this technology come from and where is it going? To truly understand computers, it is important to understand their evolution first.
The abacus, which was invented about 5000 years ago in Asia and is still in use today, may be considered the first computer. This device helps users to calculate using a system of sliding beads on a rack. But as the use of pencil and paper has got more common, the abacus lost its importance. It took nearly 12 centuries for the next remarkable advance in computing to appear. In 1642, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the 18-year-old son of a French tax collector, invented a numerical wheel calculator to help his father at work. This rectangular box, also called a Pascaline, used eight movable dials to add sums up to eight figures long. The weakness of Pascal's device was, of course, its limited addition. .
In 1694, a German mathematician and philosopher, Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz (1646-1716), improved the Pascaline by creating a machine which also can multiply. But it wasn't until 1820 that mechanical calculators started to be widely used. Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar, a Frenchman, invented a machine that didn't only add sums up, but also could subtract, multiply and divide. It is also widely used until the First World War.
The real beginnings of computers were created by an English mathematics professor, Charles Babbage (1791-1871).