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The Analytical and Difference Engines 1835-1869 The English mathematician Charles Babbage 1792-1871 never got to build his invention but his design had an uncanny resemblance to the modern computer Ada Lovelace Lord Byrons daughter wrote eloquently about the device and was historys first programmer The ABC Atanasoff Berry Computer 1938 John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry designed the first electronic digital computer at Iowa State and urged the university to patent their design Nothing was ever done and millions in potential royalties were lost The project was abandoned in 1942 without building the computer The ENIAC Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator 1946 was built at the University of Pennsylvania by John W Mauchly and J Presper Eckert Recognized as the first operational electronic computer it could perform 5000 additions per second weighed 30 tons and required 1500 square feet of floor space UNIVAC I Universal Automatic Computer 1951 The worlds first commercial computer a total of 15 were sold gained public recognition when it was used by CBS to predict Eisenhowers 1952 presidential election The original UNIVAC was officially retired on October 3 1963 after 73000 hours of operation and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution The IBM 360 1964 The 360 series pioneered the concept of upward compatibility whereby a user could upgrade from one computer to the next without having to reprogram existing applications The machine was viewed as an enormous financial gamble but paid off handsomely as it gave IBM dominance in mainframes which it has never relinquished Altair 8800 1975 The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics featured the Altair 8800 on its cover the first personal computer and a machine that the hobbyist could build from a kit 2000 adventurous readers sent in their orders sight unseen for a kit that cost 439 The Altair had no keyboard or monitor and no available software and was programmed by switches on the front panel
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