To this day, the field of computer science still pushes new limits. Things like wearable electronics, autonomous vehicles, and online video chats are already having a profound impact on our daily lives. With the help of computer science, we were able to put a human on the moon, link the entire planet together online, and place a portable computer in the hands of six billion people.

What is Computer Science?

  • The phrase “computer science” was coined by George Forsythe in 1961.1 Forsythe classified it as including computer science, information science, and math. 
  • One year after that, the first computer science department at a university was founded. Forsythe eventually established the computer science program at Stanford University.1
  • The history of computers and computing can provide today’s IT workers with an important historical perspective.

History of Computer Development

First Computer Programmer

  • Ada Lovelace, who outlined a procedure for resolving problems with machines, is often credited as the first computer programmer, having done so in the 1840s.2 
  • Since then, advancements in computing have exploded. From the creation of punch cards to the development of the computer chip, transistor, and computer, the history of computer science is replete with pivotal moments.

Automatic Calculator

  • Millions of Americans’ information were gathered for the U.S. Census. Herman Hollerith created a novel method to calculate massive amounts of data. His use of punch cards for data storage paved the way for modern computer processing.3 
  • To tally the census responses, Hollerith used electricity. The Census Bureau was able to take an inventory of the United States in one year when it would have taken 10 years if done manually.3

Turing Machine

  • It wasn’t until 1936 that Alan Turing, a philosopher of computation, proposed his groundbreaking Turing Machine. The “automatic machine” that Turing described performed numerical calculations. 
  • Thus, Turing laid the groundwork for the development of computational science and the discipline of theoretical computer science.4

Origins of HP

  • With a flip of a coin in 1939, friends Hewlett and Packard selected the order of their names in the Hewlett-Packard brand.13 
  • The company’s first product was an oscillator machine utilized in 1940 Walt Disney film, Fantasia. In subsequent years, it expanded into a major player in the printing and computing industries.5

First Electronic Computer

  • The development of modern computers took a giant step forward during World War II. Numerous nations’ budgets included funding for the research and development of computers. 
  • The Z3 electronic computer was developed by German scientist Konrad Zuse. A programmable computer, it was the first of its kind. The Z3’s memory capacity was 64 digits.6

Highly-Capable Electronic Calculator 

  • For the ENIAC computer to perform computations, programmers had to physically connect cables to the machine. 
  • It had 18,000 vacuum tubes and 6,000 switches, making the ENIAC the largest electronic digital computer ever built. 
  • Though the United States had wanted to employ the 30-ton machine to calculate rocket trajectories during World War II, the massive machine wasn’t turned on until 1945.7

Invention of Transistor

  • The transistor amplifies electronic power. They emerged in 1947 from the Bell Telephone research facilities. 
  • Shockley, Bardeen, and Brattain, three medical doctors, created the novel method. The men were honored with the Nobel Prize in Physics for their groundbreaking discovery that altered the course of electronics.8

Integrated Circuit

  • To store information, Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce independently developed the concept of an integrated circuit. 
  • The transistor served as inspiration for the development of the microchip, the first complete silicon computer chip. The invention of the computer chip paved the way for numerous significant developments.9

Home Computers

  • In the 1970s, the concept of home computers was being pursued by innovators. Smaller and cheaper computers became possible with the advent of microchips and other technologies. The Altair was released to the public in 1974. 
  • The Altair was a DIY kit that sold for $400 and was replicated by the hundreds. Bill Gates and Paul G. Allen utilized the money they made from developing a programming language for Altair to start Microsoft the next year.10,14,15,16


  • In 1976, Apple Computer was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in a garage in Silicon Valley.11 
  • As a PC manufacturer, the new company would quickly rise to the top of the technology sector. Apple has been at the forefront of technological advancement for personal computers for decades.

Affordable Personal Computers

  • In 1980, what did the development of computing look like historically? Due to their high cost, few households had personal computers. 
  • In 2020, an average American home had over 10 connected devices, which is a dramatic increase from the 1980s.12,17

The advent of mobile technology, the emergence of new tech companies, and the increasing popularity of consumer electronics all contributed to significant advances in computer science. 

Technologies like smartphones, AI, Bluetooth, autonomous vehicles, and more are examples of the present and future of computer science. So, this is the journey of computer science.

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  1. Shallit. (1995). The University of Waterloo. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from’s%2C%20computer%20science,at%20Purdue%20University%20in%201962.
  2. Gregersen. (2022). Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from
  3. IBM. (2022, January 1). IBM100 – The Punched Card Tabulator. IBM100 – the Punched Card Tabulator. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from
  4. Carlton. (2021). Computer Science: The History of Computer Development. ZDNET. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from
  5. Hall. (2022, October 22). Hewlett-Packard Company | History & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from
  6. Abbany. (2016). Zuse’s Z3 computer and the digital revolution – DW – 05/11/2016. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from
  7. Freiberger. (2022). ENIAC | History, Computer, Stands For, Machine, & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from
  8. Frenzel. (2019). StackPath. StackPath. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from
  9. Aasen. (2014, September 12). On This Day In 1958, A TI Engineer Invented A Chip That Changed The World. KERA News. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from
  10. Bill Gates and Paul Allen start the firm that grows into Microsoft in the fall of 1975. – (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2023, from 
  11. Faizal, F. (2021, January 8). The History Of Apple. Feedough. Retrieved November 14, 2022, from
  12. Chart: These Devices Rule the American Home | Statista. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2023, from 
  13. William Hewlett & David Packard. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2023, from 
  14. Microsoft’s History with BASIC (Altair 8800, TRS-80 Color Computer) – Microsoft Community Hub. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2023, from 
  15. April 4, 1975: Bill Gates, Paul Allen Form a Little Partnership | WIRED. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2023, from 
  16. TECHNOLOGY; A Tale of the Tape From the Days When It Was Still Micro Soft – The New York Times. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2023, from 
  17. Federica Laricchia. (2022) Average number of connected devices in U.S. 2020 | Statista. Retrieved January 4, 2023, from 

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