What Is a Brief History of the First Computer?

The first computer was designed by English mathematician Charles Babbage in the 1800s. He referred to it as an Analytical Engine, and although it was never built, its design became the framework for the design of modern computers.

Charles Babbage started his career inventing arithmetic-related devices. The Analytical Engine, or first computer, was designed to handle general-purpose computation. Babbage intended for the machine to be programmed using punched cards. This design implemented key features used in modern computers such as sequential control, looping and branching.

Babbage did not have a full-fledged research team, but still had people helping him. Ada Lovelace provided critical help for the first computer by implementing an algorithm for the device to calculate rational number sequences. Babbage continued to garner followers in Italy, Sweden and around the world. In 1830, Swedish scientist Per Georg Scheutz decided to try to test out the practicality of Babbage's design but was unsuccessful.

A few other Swedish scientists in the early 1800s tried to build Babbage's design, but also failed. The first completed digital computer device was built in 1937 by Dr. John V. Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. Scientists and historians revisited Babbage's original design in the early 2000s and built an 8,000-piece model of the Analytical Engine.