The Time Tunnel

The beginning_b.

History of an amazing machine

George Boole


Self-taught British mathematician who gave scientific respectability to Gottfried Leibniz's idea that one and zero could express all mathematical ideas, thus laying the foundation for modern higher algebra, Boole proposed a form of logic (now known as Boolean algebra) using two digits: 1 to represent something and 0 to represent nothing or to lack of something. This idea and the ability to place logic underneath mathematics in the form of true and false statements, would be instrumental in development of circuitry, computation and digital computers.

Augusta Ada King


English thinker who helped Charles Babbage with the difference and analitical engines without formal education and in a time when women generally did not study mathematics. She was best known for tranlating from french to English a report on a lecture Babbage gave. She added her own lengthy note to the text and has been credited with developing the concepts of "loop" and "subroutine." Babbage said she explained the machine much better than he did and seemed to understand it better. Some have called her the first world's programmer, but others believe she clarified and analized Babbage's ideas rather than adding anything original. King, born Augusta Ada Byron, was the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron, although she never met him. Ada, the department of defense's programming language, is named for her.

Frank Stephen Baldwing


Created the first properly constructed variable-toothed gear about 1875 in the United States, at the same time willgodt Odhner was making a similar one in Europe. The gear, which was reliable, small and easy to use, resulted in a breakthrough in the calculating machine industry. Baldwin patented a mechanical calculation machine in 1873 and went into business with Jay Randolph Monroe. Unfortunately for Baldwin, the machines produced beginning in 1911 became known as Monroe calculators.

Willgodt Odhner


A Swede working in Russia who created the first properly constructed variable-toothed gear in Europe in about 1875, at the same time Frank Baldwin was making a similar one in the United States. The gear, which was reliable, small and easy to use, resulted in a breakthrough in the calculating machine industry.

William S. Burroughs


New york born inventor who, after working in a bank, was so appalled by the inaccuracies of hand accounting that he created and patented a printing adding machine in 1888. With the financial support of some St. Louis businessmen, he created the American arithmometer company. Either because the 50 machines he made didn't sell or didn't meet his standard, he dropped them out a two story window, one by one, in 1889, but a redesigned version he patented the next year was an astonishing success. By 1913 (years after he died from tuberculosis), his company dominated the office equipment market.

Herman Hollerith


1890. The Hollerith tabulator tabulated statistic with punch cards.

New York-born engineer who developed a way to use punched cards to tabulate data for the U.S. census bureau's 1890 census. His Hollerith cards and associated machines revolutionized business including railroad businesses in the United States and overseas. It is said that John Shaw Billings, a high-ranking census official, gave Hollerith the idea for the cards. Hollerith went on to found the Tabulating Machine Company, which in a roundabout way eventually became IBM.

Dorr E. Felt



Machinist who invented the comptometer, a key-driven business calculator that sped up calculations by adding the results as numbers were entered. He began working on the machine in 1884 with a wooden macaroni box, skewers, staples, and rubber bands and ended up with a monopoly on desktop calculators for 15 years. The machine's main drawback was that it coudn't print, as the one created by William Burroughs would be able to do.

Thomas Watson


New York-born president of the International Business Machines (IBM) corp. who built up the company during world war II and also invested in Howard Aiken's plan to build the Harvard-Mark I calculator. Aiken later snubbed Watson's and IBM's role in the project, establishing a lifelong rift between the two men.

Percy E. Ludgate


Irish accountant who designed and perhaps constructed a mechanical analytical engine around the turn of the century, although little information is available about him, and his drawings and manuscripts have disappeared. The machine appears to have been quite different from charles Babbage's and may have been powered by an electrical motor.

Clair D. Lake


IBM engineer credited by Howard Aiken as one of the co-inventors of the Harvard-IBM Mark 1, a large-scale calculating machine finished in 1944. It was noted for its reliability and accuracy and did calculations full-time for world war II. Aiken was considered the driving force of the project, but Lake has been credited with its implementation.

Vannevar Bush


Massachusetts-born engineer and politician who created the mechanical differential analyzer, the first serious attempt to design a computer that could do many kinds of scientific computations and the herald of the modern computer age. He also introduced the idea of hypertext in the article "As we may think," published in 1945. Bush created the National defense research committee in 1940 to organize scientists and engineers for World War II, and his leadership was instrumental in the Manhattan project.

Leslie John Comrie


Scientist who was among the first to use business calculating machines for scietific purposes. Comrie, head of the National Almanac office in London, used the Burroughs machine to calculate and print astronomical tables and also adapted the Hollerith machine to do scietific calculations of the motions of the moon for the years 1935 to 2000. It is said that he spent seven months punching 20 million holes in half a million Hollerith cards.

Hideo Yamachita


Japanese engineer considered the father of Japan's computer industry. He created an allelectrical statistical calculation machine that used binary logic and relay circuits, and he also led the team in 1950 that created Japan's first large electronic computer, The Tokyo Automatic calculator (TAC), with vacuum tubes. The TAC became the basis for the country's first all-transistor computers. He also founded the Information Processing Society of Japan.

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