The successful general purpose mechanical computers were developed. In 1930, mechanical calculations were built for automatic addition, subtraction, multiplication & division. A calculator is not a programmable device. The different eras of the Evolution of Digital Computers are listed below:
(1) Mechanical Era : There were many attempts to create a m/c that could help to perform various calculations. In 1823, Charles Babbage tried to build a mechanical as computing m/c capable of performing automatic mathematical calculations. This was designed to compute tables of functions such as logs functions etc. In 1830’s Babbage made a more powerful mechanical computer. This m/c was designed to perform any mathematical calculation automatically.
It could perform addition etc. It had a memory unit. Its capacity was 1000 numbers, each no. consisting of 50 digits. The m/c was a programmable m/c. It had mechanism for enabling a program to change the sequence of its operations automatically. In the late 19th century punched cards were commercially used. Soon IBM was formed in 1924. Konand Zuse developed a mechanical computer, the Z1, in 1938 in Germany.
(2) The Electronic Era : The first electronic computer using. Valves were developed by John V. Atanas off in the late 1930’s. It contained add subtract unit. It was relatively a small computer and used about 300 valves. Its memory unit consisted of capacitors mounted on a rotating drum. It used a no. of I/O devices including a card punch and a card reader. The first popular general electronic digital computer was the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Interpreter and calculator). John von Neumann was the consultant of the ENIAC project.
The ENIAC used a high speed memory to store both programs as well as data during program execution. Neumann and his colleagues designed and build the IAS Computers. It used RAM consisting of a cathode ray tube. The transistors were invented in 1948 at AT&T bell laboratories. Slowly they replaced Vacuum tubes. IC’s were first introduced, ie, designed and fabricated in 1958-59. The examples of computers using IC’s are-: IBM – 370 & PDP-8. In 1970 LSI chips were introduced is form of memory units. Computers built in 1970’s & onwards used micro process and other LSI, VLSI and ULSI components.