(from Wikipedia's article about History of computing hardware)

History of computing hardware

Earliest true hardware

The abacus was early used for arithmetic tasks. What we now call the Roman abacus was used in Babylonia as early as 2400 BC.


Several analog computers were constructed in ancient and medieval times to perform astronomical calculations. These include the Antikythera mechanism and the astrolabe from ancient Greece (c. 150–100 BC), which are generally regarded as the earliest known mechanical analog computers.1

In Japan, Ryōichi Yazu patented a mechanical calculator called the Yazu Arithmometer in 1903. It consisted of a single cylinder and 22 gears, and employed the mixed base-2 and base-5 number system familiar to users to the soroban (Japanese abacus).

1801: punched card technology

Joseph-Marie Jacquard

Charles Babbage

Early computer characteristics

Zuse Z3Ger.May 1941Bin. float ptElectro-mech
Colossus Mk 1UKFeb 1944BinaryElectronic
ENIACUSJul 1946DecimalElectronic


See also

1. Lazos 1994, The Antikythera Computer

2. Jones, Douglas W, The University of Iowa

3. John Markoff (7 November 2011) "It started digital wheels turning" New York Times description of Babbage's Analytical Engine