Making the First Universal Computers

Who Invented the Computer?

Modern computers are complex amalgams of logic and engineering and it would be possible to single out any one person as the inventor. Nevertheless in 1973, in resolving a patent dispute (in the case Honeywell v. Sperry Rand), a judge came close to doing just that. As our story moves from the underlying logical ideas behind modern allpurpose computers to their construction, engineering issues and the people who were able to deal effectively with them come to the fore. Accounts of the history of computing have made varying claims, and before continuing our story, it’s worth having a quick look at the cast of characters.

JOSEPH-MARIE JACQUARD (1752–1834). The Jacquard loom ...

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