The History of Early Computing Machines, from Ancient Times to 1981Vincze Miklós6/23/13 4:00pmFiled to: technologycomputersabacuscomputingAntikytheraPascalinedifference enginecharles babbageibmapple9310EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkFrom the abacus to the IBM personal computer, calculating devices have come a long way. Let's take a look through the history of these machines and the remarkable progress that came with the 20th century.AdvertisementA picture above was taken at the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio, 1951.The Chinese Abacus 'Suan Pan' and the Roman Abacus(via History-Computer and David R. Tribble)The Antikythera mechanism, designed to calculate astronomical positions (early 1st century BCE)(via Marsyas [fragment] and Mogi Vincentini [2007 copy])The Pascaline or Pascal's Calculator, by Blaise Pascal. It could add, subtract, multiply and divide two numbers (1642)(via David Monniaux)The Stepped Reckoner, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, completed in 1694. Two prototypes were built, only one survived.(via Kolossos)The Arithmométre, the first mass-produced mechanical calculator, by Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar, based on Leibniz's work, around 1820, but manufactured until 1915(via Ezrdr)The punched card system, developed by 1801 by Joseph-Marie Jacquard. Used in music machines, mechanical organs, calculators, mechanical counters, looms, and other automatons and early computers. (via Mechanical Organs and Stefan Kühn)The Difference engines, the first mechanical computers, by Charles Babbage in the early 1800sHere you can see the Difference Engine No. 2 in a gigantic, zoomable gigapixel image.(via Jitze Couperus and xrez)The hand-cranked calculator Curta, invented by Curt Herzstark in 1948. Type II was introduced in 1954 and produced until 1972.(via Werner Kratz)The Water Integrator, that could solve (partial) differential equations, built by Vladimir Lukyanov, 1936The water levels in the chambers represented stored numbers, and the rate of flow between them represented the mathematical operations. (via Gizmodo)ShareTweet Kinja is in read-only mode. We are working to restore service.