The Computer Age

A rebuild of the Colossus Computer.[br]COMPUTERS have changed the world. They are everywhere, from our desks to our pockets. We often take for granted how easy we can access the internet without ever thinking of all the people who dedicated their lives to create it. In order to access the internet you first need a computer.Computer science began with developments in first-order predicate calculus by Gottfried Leibnitz back in the seventeenth-century. First-order predicate calculus, also known as first-order logic is when you use quantified variables, things that you can measure (yet are different), over non-logical objects, or constants that are too long or difficult to easily use, such as pi.The idea of a programmable general purpose computer lies with Charles Babbage. A British polymath, Babbage designed the Analytical Engine which is a mechanical general purpose computer. Babbage’s work was analysed by Ada Lovelace, who is often regarded as the first computer programmer. Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron and focused on mathematics after her father left when she was eight. Her mother encouraged her to pursue maths, and she began the study of scientific computation. The programming language, Ada, is named after her.Boolean algebra is required for computer programming, and was formulated by George Boole. Boole was the first professor of mathematics in Cork University and died in Cork in 1864. Boolean algebra is the branch of algebra which relays the values for truth and false as 1 and 0 respectively, something we all recognise.After Boole, Gottlob Frege developed first-order predicate calculus. Leibnitz, who began to develop it, inspired Frege. First-order predicate calculus is a crucial prerequisite to the development of computational theory.
"Turing also created the ‘bombe’ which he used to crack the Enigma code which arguably won World War 2 for the Allies.”
Vannevar Bush was an analogue computing pioneer and was the creator of the Memex concept. A Memex is a device which was theorised to be able to hold all of a person’s books, records, and communication, and that it would be able to be accessed quickly and flexibly. (basically like any modern smart phone). The Memex concept led to the development of hypertext, which is basically a way of cross-referencing.Kurt Gödel inspired computer scientists such as Church, Kleene, and Turing by proving that Peano’s arithmetic, a set of rules based off Peano’s axioms, could not be both logically consistent and complete in first-order logic.Alonzo Church and Stephen Cole Kleene worked together to develop Lambda calculus, which is a mathematical logic system which shows difficulty for the user based on variable binding and substitution. Church also discovered the so-called ‘undecidable problem’ within it; it being that you cannot construct a single algorithm to give a yes or no answer.Perhaps the most famous person in computer science is Alan Turing. Films such as The Imitation Game have made Alan Turing a household name. Turing created the Turing machine which is a model of the computer. Turing also created the “bombe” which he used to crack the Enigma code which arguably won the Second World War for the Allies.Turing considered the “father” of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. The Turing Test is named after him, and is a test to see if a computer’s intelligence could pass for that of a human. However, in 1952 Turing was prosecuted for ‘homosexual acts’ and was treated with chemical castration. Turing committed suicide at the age of 41 resulting in a huge loss to the computer science community.
“It was Tommy Flowers who built the world’s first programmable, digital, electronic, computing device.”
After Turing, strives were made in building computers. Konrad Zuse began by building the Z1, the world’s first freely programmable digital computer. He also built the Z3, which was proven to be Turing complete in 1998. A Turing complete computer can stimulate a Turing machine. Zuse finally also formed the first commercially available computer, the Z4.John Atanastoff constructed the first electronic and digital computer, though it wasn’t programmable or Turing complete. It was called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer and it was destroyed to convert the basement of Iowa State University into Classrooms. A replica of it has now been constructed.It was Tommy Flowers who built the world’s first programmable, digital, electronic, computing device. He designed the whole Colossus computer series which inspired Max Newman to instigate the production of Colossus Computers and establish the Computing Machine Laboratory. Here the world’s first stored-program computer could be found.This all lead to J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly developing the first modern computer. A modern computer is one which is Turing complete and all electronic. Mauchly also built the UNIVAC 1 which was the first commercially available computer. He also worked alongside Grace Hopper and Jean Bartik to develop stored program computers. Hopper also began work on computer programming languages which she deemed a necessary.As more and more developments were made in the field of computer science, it eventually lead to the development of the much-loved Internet and gave rise to a new age: The Computer Age.