Who Invented the First Computer and Where Did Computers Come From?

The answer to the question “who invented the first computer” depends of your definition of a computer.

The first known counting devices or tools were Tally Sticks from about 35,000 BC.

The Abacus was then invented by the Babylonians in 2400 BC.

In 1837, Charles Babbage, a British professor of mathematics described his idea for the Analytical Engine, the first stored-program mechanical computer. The Analytical Engine was designed to be powered by a steam engine and was to use Punched Cards, which was used to program mechanical looms at the time.

What made the Analytical Engine unique was that it was designed to be programmed.

It was because of this and the fact that it would be more than 100 years that any similar devices would be constructed, Charles Babbage, would be considered by many as the “father of computing”. Because of legal, financial, and political obstacles, the Analytical Machine would never be completed. Charles Babbage was also difficult to work with and alienated the supporters of his work.

In 1939, John V. Atanasoff and Clifford Berry developed the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) at Iowa State University, which was regarded as the first electronic digital computer. The ABC was built by hand and the design used over 300 Vacuum Tubes and had capacitors fixed in a mechanically rotating drum for memory.

the first computer

The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), constructed in the US in 1943, is widely regarded as the first functionally useful electronic general-purpose computer. Influenced by the ABC, it was a turning point in the history of computing and was used to perform ballistics trajectory calculations and used 160 kW of power. World War II is known to be the driving force of computing hardware development and one of such use of computers was in communications encryption and decryption.

The UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer) was the first commercially available, “mass produced” electronic computer manufactured by Remington Rand in the USA and was delivered to the US Census Bureau in June 1951. It used 5,200 vacuum tubes and consumed 125 kW of power. 46 machines were sold at more than $1 million each.

The microprocessor eventually led to the development of the microcomputer, small, low-cost computers that individuals and small businesses could afford.

By the 1990s, the microcomputer or Personal Computer (PC) became a common household appliance, and became even more widespread with the advent of the Internet.

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  • Anonymous

    I thought the Indians invented the computer?

  • Anonymous

    you people have like anger manegment problems…calm down. it’s just about stupid computers its not that big of a deal VVVV

  • Mishka Sherwood

    This article which you called “crap” is helpful to those who were looking for such information, what you all should have done, was to check out another article on another site to find EXACTLY what you were looking for.

  • Jon

    Charles Babbage DID NOT invent the first computer… pay more attn. to the reading…

    it clearly states that charles babbage only came up with and developed the schematics for the first computer… not the computer itself…

    DOWN at the next paragraph is clearly stated that the FIRST computer was developed, known as the ENIAC


  • Anonymous

    im sorry but a guy named konrad zuse created the first computer. bill gates just made it better

  • jsexy323

    LOOK you need to pay attention who ever you are read the damn article alright and check your damn attitude!!!

  • Amira

    it was Konrad Zuse who invented the first computer and most people wanna know tbhis stuff for their projects or hw or whatever so you guys need to chillax and stop calling everyone geeks id rather be a nerd than be some poor guy on the street dont you think? so keep you’re mouths shut

  • rjm

    Charles Babbage had an assistant. A computor language
    was named after her ADA The daughter of Lord Byron
    She was a mathmatical genius I believe . It did in fact work
    but Babbage naturally wanted improvements the problem being
    the lack of fine quality engineering needed. And its cost
    I doubt the americans had a computer in ww2 because in the
    book COLLOSUS , Americans were invited to Bletchley Park
    to learn how it was done.

  • hakera94

    John Atanasov and Clifford Berry invented the first computer, John Atanasov is bulgarian!

  • Kristina

    its not just kids or geeks who wonder about this stuff, its people who have a brain and know how to expand it without fear of being ridiculed for wanted to explore things that arnt everyday questions. i mean come on i was hanging out with some friends tonight just having a good time and having conversations, and we got curious i cant tell you how much i learned in the last 12.5 hours…yea we have been up all night searching stuff that lead us to the question who invented toliet paper…i have never even cared about what brand i used but now you guys better believe i will be reading the labels of all the brands on the shelf… but i gtg for now ill be on different topics all the time… so to all the haters out there for wondering about something, you guys are the losers, that are obviously not gonna be anybody to remember in this world, give people credit…

  • Anonymous

    The Yankee hater was right the first computer was invented by the Brits during WWII to be able to decode german orders

  • Anonymous

    Charles Babbage did not steal John atanasoffs idea because john was born in 1903 and charles died in 1871…

  • Anonymous

    Lets clear this up once and for all.

    Babbage NEVER actually made his computer he only came up with the idea.

    ENIAC, give me a break, in 1943 Britain had invented Colossus which was used to break the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park, England. Colossus is the first known computer, however due to the nature of its use it was kept secret at the time and infact at the end of the war all 10 of the machines were destroyed and the staff sworn to secrecy over their role in the breaking of the codes.

  • Alex Mollov

    All you people are so STUPID! John Atanasoff was the king inventor of the computer, along with his student Berry. Atanasoff is a US citizen, but his parents are BULGARIAN, and he came to BULGARIA and he was given a king MEDAL for his invention. HE IS THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE NAME IN BULGARIA OKAY?! ALSO GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH GAVE HIM A KING MEDAL, AND I’M TALKING ABOUT W’S FATHER BACK IN 1990. NOW ALL OF YOU IDIOTAS AND PUTAS SHUT THE K UP AND LEARN SOMETHING FOR A CHANGE!!!!!

  • i pooped

    I heard once that the computer was invented by someone in the u.s in the twenties some time before the great depression but the government confiscated it thinking that the inventor was a threat to them and he was never seen again?

  • Cyrus Nyonneoh

    Can anyone tell me who the true inventor of computer is?
    I did my own search and i saw it all started In 1837, by Charles Babbage, a British professor of mathematics.

    And when i went down i saw 1935-1938: Konrad Zuse builds Z1, world’s first program-controlled computer. Inventor of first working programmable computer.

    And when i went deep down in my search…this is what i saw:

    Note: Babbage (UK, around 1840) planned but was unable to build a non-binary, decimal, programmable machine. The binary ABC (US, 1942) of Atanasoff (of Bulgarian origin) and Eckert and Mauchly’s decimal ENIAC (US, 1945/46) were special purpose calculators, in principle like those of Schickard, (1623), Pascal (1640) and Leibniz (1670), though faster (with tubes instead of gears; today we use transistors). None of these machines was freely programmable. Neither was Turing et al.’s Colossus (UK, 1943-45) used to break the Nazi code. The first programmable machine built by someone other than Zuse was Aiken’s MARK I (US, 1944) which was still decimal, without separation of storage and control.

    So i am confused and dont know who is who.

  • Anonymous

    The really first programable computer invented is the Mark1/Z1 Computer by Konrad Zuse in the year 1936. I know it because i have studied it.

  • Regine Espala Tan

    hello!! im regine from bacoor cavite..
    the realhitory of computers starts out about 5000 years ago BC, at the birth of the abacus, a woowden rack holding two horizontal wires with beads strung on them and develop by the chinese!!!

  • Anonymous

    bill gates was the inventor of MICROSOFT!!!!! get your facts straight there is NO TRUE INVENTOR! People have been taking diff. machines and systems while slowly evolving them into what we have today. Can we at least all agree on that?!

  • fivecakes

    I think your caps lock key got stuck somewhere

  • easton

    I love vidio games and therefore, computers and all that resemble their awesomeness

  • fineguitar

    You must qualify your question. computers can be mechanical, human and electronic. Mechanical see the abacus or ada, Human see how canon shot found its target. (it can be calculated in advance by having a room of Calculators as they called them – ie people sitting at desk working the formulas out by hand) and the Electronic calculator – IBM again! They once made a machine that they called a “time machine” but it was actually a “Time Clock” but an early one and thats how it all began.
    Bill Gates was only lucky very lucky. What he did was to take a computer language called CPM and made some simple changes.

  • Close Up

    the creator of the first working electronic computer was John Vincent Atanasov and Clifford Berry the computer was called Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC). The ENIAC was built first but was invalidated due to not working as supposed to, so the ABC was considered the first electronic computer ever made. Heh i am proud of John Atanasov his family comes from bulgaria ! :D

  • jeff clutch

    Alan Turing invented the worlds first programmable computer, in england, not USA, read your history folks

  • w0w

    Konrad Zuse was the inventor of the first working and programmble computer

  • Blahshii

    No, it was Charles Babbage who actually created the first mechanical computer. It wasn’t much but it was the start of everything. That was in 1837.

  • fatmannamedryan

    the first programed control computer was built by konrad zuse and it was z1

  • kenekaplan

    The world’s first computer may be older than you think http://intel.ly/eSyRPm

  • Professor

    The first electronic computer was invented by Mauchly and Eckert and it was called the Eniac.It was NOT derived from the ABC. The trial which made this decision was corrupted by money and liars. People were paid money to give evidence. Judge was incompetent and ignorant of computers.
    The ABC was not a working computer and this is why it was never patented. It was a electro-mechanical computer and not a mechanical computer which is why it was too slow to be useful.

  • Ammy

    I Would like to specify tht it aint ask here that which type of computer were first prepare if they asked then Charles Babbage is obviously the inventor but if its electronic pc then it has to be smbody else…

  • tommy flowers

    my name is tommy flowers. i was born 1903 in london, during the war i built a computing machine to decifer german code. this was THE 1st modern computer which used techniques associated with what you now call a PC ! for example, bit stream mapping, something that is fundamental to modern computers. i know im quite old now + losing my memory but i dont recall any americans being around when this happened. all the best tommy. age 109.

  • Jochen

    The first program controled computer was ivented by the German Konrad Zuse from 1935 -1938!

  • wiseman

    The ABC,ladies and gentlemen is virtually the 1st Computer. It differs from the Z3,with the fact that it is a digital electronic computer,not mechanical.As you should have seen,the IUVAC,which is where modern day PCs evolve from,is based on the ABC’s digital technology. The inventor of the ABC is John Vincent Atanasoff.
    Although the digital technology he used,was not his own creeation,he was the first man to apply it to an electrical automatic computer. In 1990,George Bush senior,awarded him for best achievement in the technology sphere.In 2003 Bill Gates sent a letter to the bulgarian president George Parvanov(because although Atanasoff is American,his ancestry is bulgarian) saying that he confirms the fact that ”John Atanasoff is the father of the computer”.

  • no one

    ok so the eniac came after the colossus, and that came after abunch of others then theres the abbicus, then theres fingers and toes come on people, pick one and get over it… if you have this hard a time figuring it out, your teacher will to so its not like it matters. and if you really want to know, the first electronic programmable computer was the colossus, the came the eniac then the other stuff so get over it.

  • miz.Need ‘ To’ Know

    All i wanted was to know who created the first computer and when but nooo it had to be complicated.

  • Joshua Stanic

    1st computer was invented by Vishwakarma in India to control flying machine in 2045 BC

  • Marley

    The USA actually had the first patent for a working electrical computer, for our military, eniac. So Cabbage may have had an idea for an analytical machine which was non electric he never made one, so the credit goes to USA, patented in 1946, by two American brothers.

  • GreatBRITAIN

    I hate to burst your bubble, but come on – please. ENIAC was not the first computer. AMERICANS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FIRST FULLY PROGRAMMANMBLE COMPUTER!!!! The first computer was made in secret at the British Codebreaking HQ at Bletchley Park (where BRITISH mathmaticians etc. won the war for the allies by breaking the TWO main german codes – giving them access directly to the german high command.) To solve one of these codes the BRITISH built the first computer (tommy flowers to be precise) it was called colossus and Bletchley had multiple units. Due to the nature of the work done at Bletchley many details were not revealed until more than 60 years later. THE BRITISH continued to use variants of colossus for soviet codebreaking at Bletchley until the 1970’s ( it was still one of the most advanced computers then too.) So to conclude the BRITISH,BRITISH,BRITISH BUILT THE FIRST COMPUTER! NOT THE AMERICANS.
    and if you dont believe me you can even visit the rebuild of colossus at bletchley park near milton keynes.

  • carelyn montero

    its only Charles babbage..he invented the first computer the analytical engine….