The answer to the question of who made the first computer in the world is not an easy one. There was never a perfect piece developed like the one which we are using today. It developed gradually, and with combined efforts, the perfect machine was made.
Hence, a single person cannot be given the credit of making this machine. However, Charles Babbage is known to have conceived this idea initially. Hence, he is also known as the 'Father of Computers'.
The Mechanical Computing Engine
Charles Babbage was a British math professor. It was he who thought of building an analytical engine, which was the 1st mechanical computing engine that could store programs. He proposed this idea in the year 1822. Due to lack of funds, he could not complete this project.
In the year 1837, he proposed the idea again, which encompassed the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU), basic flow control, and integrated memory. It is really extraordinary for a person to think of building a machine, which was way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, this project too was never completed because of political, legal, and financial obstacles.
However, in the year 1910, Henry Babbage, Charles Babbage's youngest son, is said to have completed a part of this engine that was designed to perform some basic calculations.
The Functional Engine
Almost a century later, in the year 1936, Konrad Zuse made world's first program-controlled computing machine in Germany. Many believe that it was he who made the first computer. It was named as Z1. Because of the war during that time, he faced many hardships. And it paid off well.
The Z1 had a 64-word memory, and each of these words contained 22 bits. This was when the 1st programmable device was developed. Later, Zuse developed the Z2 and Z3 versions as well.
The Turing Machine
This was proposed by Alan Turing in the year 1936, and it printed symbols on paper tape, such that it felt as though a person was following a series of logical instructions.
The Digital Machine
In the year 1937, at the Iowa State University, the 1st electronic, digital counterpart was made. It was called ABC, which stood for Atanasoff-Berry Computer. It was developed by John V. Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. It took them a few years to build it, and the work continued until the year 1942.
The ABC (Atanasoff-Berry Computer) used vacuum tubes for digital computation, which involved binary math and Boolean logic. It had no processing unit.
In the year 1943, a project was initiated by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania. It took almost 3 years to build this machine. It was known as ENIAC. It stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer.
It was the 1st digital device, which could be re-programmed. It was massive, and it took more than 1800 square feet of space. It had about 18,000 vacuum tubes, and numerous capacitors, relays, resistors, etc. It weighed almost 50 tons.
The First Stored Program Machine
The UNIVAC 1101 or the ERA 1101 is considered as the 1st machine that could store and run a program from memory.
The IBM-compatible Machine
On April 7, 1953, IBM publicly introduced the 701, its first electric and mass-produced device. Later IBM introduced the IBM PC in 1981. It was code named, and is still sometimes referred to as the Acorn. It had a 8088 processor, 16 KB of memory, which was expandable to 256, and it also had MS-DOS.
The First Personal Computer
This was possible because of the invention of microprocessors. Microprocessor is a miniature chip, which is equivalent to thousands of transistors. Because of this chip, the size of the CPU decreased.
However, the credit for making this device for personal use goes to Micro Instrumentation Telemetry Systems (MITS), which developed a kit known as Altair 8800.
After its development, there was a rising demand for this product. And hence, commercially, Tandy Corporation (Radio Shack) developed its machine in the year 1977. It had a keyboard and also a cathode-ray display terminal (CRT).
Then later in the year 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, founders of Apple Computers developed the Apple I, and later Apple II, which had their own version of microprocessors. In the later years, this burgeoning field saw more and more developments and modification.
The First Laptop
The very 1st portable machine was developed by Xerox PARC, and they named it Xerox NoteTaker. Though this machine was never mass produced, it served as a prototype for other machines to be followed. And then the 1st portable laptop was made by Osborne Computer Corporation and was named Osborne 1.
Adam Osborne created this machine. It weighed 24.5 pounds, had a 5-inch display, 64 KB of memory, two 5 1/4" floppy drives, ran the CP/M 2.2 operating system, and included a modem.
Computers are still evolving and changing gradually. We can see more and more technological developments in this field now, replacing older systems and programs. All it is doing is helping us and reduce our workload.