Computer history - 1800s

Updated: 10/01/2023 by Computer Hope

Listed below are the important events in history relating to computers in the 1800s.


Frances Joseph-Marie Jacquard first demonstrated the Jacquard Loom.

Jacquard Loom


Frances Joseph-Marie Jacquard completed his fully automated loom in 1804 programmed by punched cards.

Punch card


An early but crude telegraph-type device was invented in 1809 by Samuel Soemmering.


Hayyim Slonimski

Hayyim Slonimski was born in 1810.


Alexander Bain was born in 1811.

Johann Bischoff passed away on April 14, 1811 (Age: 75).


Izrael Staffel was born in 1814.


Giovanni Caselli was born on April 25, 1815.

George Boole was born on November 2, 1815.

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was born on December 15, 1815.


Werner Siemens was born on December 13, 1816.

Charles Stanhope passed away on December 15, 1816 (Age: 63).


Édouard-Léon Martinville was born on April 25, 1817.


Samuel Hopkins passed away in 1818.


Christopher Sholes

Christopher Sholes was born on February 14, 1819.


Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar created the "Arithometer," the first reliable, useful, and commercially successful calculating machine. The calculator could add, subtract, multiply, and divide.


Pafnuty Chebyshev was born on May 16, 1821.


In early 1822, Charles Babbage began developing the Difference Engine, which included the first mechanical printer.


Baron Jons Jackob Berzelius discovered silicon (Si), which today is the basic component of an IC (integrated circuit).


William Sturgeon invented the modern compass using the concept of electromagnetism.

The earliest known surviving photograph was taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1825 of a view of a courtyard from his window.

Oldest known picture


Alessandro Volta passed away on March 5, 1827 (Age: 82).

Georg Simon Ohm introduced Ohm's law in the book Die galvanische Kette, mathematisch bearbeitet.


Harrison Dyar became the first person in the United States to invent a telegraph-type device.


Samuel Soule was born on January 25, 1830.

Eadweard Muybridge was born on April 9, 1830.

Jean Fourier passed away on May 16, 1830 (Age: 62).


Joseph Henry of Princeton invented the first working telegraph.


Semen Korsakov used punch cards for the first time in 1832 to store and search for information.

Woman using a telegraph machine

On October 21, 1832, Pavel Schilling became the first to transmit signals between two telegraphs in different rooms of his apartment.


Joseph Niépce passed away on July 5, 1833 (Age: 68).


Joseph Jacquard passed away on August 7, 1834 (Age: 82).


Elisha Gray

Elisha Gray was born on August 2, 1835.

William Jevons was born on September 1, 1835.


Michael Faraday invented the Faraday cage in 1836.

Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail began developing a code (later called Morse code) that used different numbers to represent the letters of the English alphabet and the ten digits.


Charles Babbage proposed the Analytical Engine, the first computer to use punch cards as memory and a way to program the computer.


Fredrik Idestam was born on October 28, 1838.


The first use of a drone was in 1839.


Edmund Barbour

Edmund Barbour was born in 1841.


Jacob Auch passed away on March 20, 1842 (Age: 77).


Thomas Fowler passed away on March 31, 1843 (Age: 66).


Joseph Clement passed away on February 28, 1844 (Age: 65).

Samuel Morse dispatched the first telegraphic message over a line from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore on May 24, 1844. The now famous message was: "What hath God wrought."


In 1845, Izrael Staffel demonstrated the Staffel's calculator at the industrial exhibition in Warsaw.

Wilhelm Rontgen was born on March 27, 1845.

Willgodt Odhner was born on August 10, 1845.

Jean-Maurice-Emile Baudot was born on September 11, 1845.


Royal Earl House patented a printing telegraph that used 28 piano-style keys to represent each letter of the alphabet and make it easier for everyone to send messages.


Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847.

Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847.

Siemens was founded on October 12, 1847.


John Ambrose Fleming was born on November 29, 1849.

George Grant was born on December 21, 1849.


Charles Flint

Charles Flint was born on January 24, 1850.

Karl Braun was born on June 6, 1850.

William Sturgeon passed away on December 4, 1850 (Age: 67).

The term "matrix" was coined by English mathematician James Joseph Sylvester.


Western Union was founded in 1851.

Emile Berliner was born on May 20, 1851.


Ada Lovelace passed away on November 27, 1852 (Age: 36).


Semen Korsakov passed away on December 1, 1853 (Age: 65).


Augustus DeMorgan and George Boole formalized a set of logical operations now known as DeMorgan transformations.

George Fairchild

George Fairchild was born on May 6, 1854.

Georg Ohm passed away on July 6, 1854 (Age: 65).

George Eastman was born on July 12, 1854.


The Crane Company was founded in 1855.

Johann Gauss passed away on February 23, 1855 (Age: 77).


Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10, 1856.


Heinrich Hertz was born on February 22, 1857.

The phonautograph (phonograph) was patented on March 25, 1857, by Frenchman Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. The device was capable of transcribing sound to a medium.


Otto Steiger was born in 1858.

The OpenVMS epoch time began on November 17, 1858.

Jagadish Bose was born on November 30, 1858.


The elevator was patented on August 9, 1859.


Herman Hollerith

Herman Hollerith was born on February 29, 1860.


The photographer Thomas Sutton took the first known permanent color photograph of a Tartan Ribbon. To achieve a color image, he took a photo of the ribbon three times, each time with a different color, a method developed by James Clerk Maxwell.

The first transcontinental telegraph line began operation on October 24, 1861.


David Hilbert was born on January 23, 1862.

Vilhelm Bjerknes was born on March 14, 1862.

Dorr Felt was born on March 18, 1862.

Philibert D'Ocagne was born on March 26, 1862.


George Boole passed away on December 8, 1864 (Age: 49).


The committee, now known as the ITU (International Telecommunication Union), was founded on May 17, 1865.

Nokia logo

Nokia was founded by Fredrik Idestam as a wood pulp company in 1865.


The first successful Trans-Atlantic cable was laid from Ireland to Newfoundland.


Michael Faraday passed away on August 25, 1867 (Age: 75).


Christopher Sholes was issued a patent on July 14, 1868, for a typewriter utilizing the QWERTY layout keyboard still used today.

Paul Otlet was born on August 23, 1868.


Cathode rays were first discovered by Johann Hittorf.

The company Gray and Barton was formed by Elisha Gray and Enos N. Barton in 1869 and three years later was renamed to the Western Electric Manufacturing Company.


Mitsubishi was founded in 1870.

Mathematical philosopher Benjamin Peirce coins the term idempotence in his self-published 1870 book, Linear Associative Algebra.

Charles Thomas passed away on March 12, 1870 (Age: 84).


Hubert Booth was born on July 4, 1871.

Charles Babbage passed away on October 18, 1871 (Age: 79).


Samuel Morse passed away on April 2, 1872 (Age: 80).


Georg Scheutz passed away on May 22, 1873 (Age: 88).

Lee Forest was born on August 26, 1873.

William Coolidge was born on October 23, 1873.


Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson was born on February 17, 1874.

Emile Baudot invented the Baudot code in 1874.

Guglielmo Marconi was born on April 25, 1874.


Tanaka Seizo-sho was established in Japan and later merged with another company called Shibaura Seisaku-sho to form Tokyo Shibarura Denki in 1875. Later, this company's name was shortened to the company we know today, Toshiba.

Samuel Soule passed away on July 12, 1875 (Age: 45).

William Eccles was born on August 23, 1875.

AT&T logo

The company American Telephone and Telegraph Company that became AT&T was founded in 1875.


Édouard Belin, inventor of a photographic transmission device that was a precursor of the television, was born on March 5, 1876.

Scottish-Canadian-American Alexander Graham Bell, often credited with inventing the telephone, made the first call on March 10, 1876.

The POTS (plain old telephone system) began being developed and installed in 1876 in the United States.

Ericsson was founded in 1876.


Alexander Bain passed away on January 2, 1877 (Age: 65).

The world's first long-distance telephone line was connected between French Corral, California, and French Lake, 58 miles away, in 1877.

The microphone was invented in the United States by Emile Berliner.

Thomas Edison announced on November 21, 1877, the first phonograph capable of recording and replaying sounds.


Eadweard Muybridge's "The Horse in Motion" became the first motion picture.

The first keyboard to have a Shift was introduced in 1878. The keyboard was found on the Remington No. 2 typewriter and had one Shift key on the left side of the keyboard.

Joseph Henry passed away on May 13, 1878 (Age: 80).

Arthur Scherbius was born on October 20, 1878.


Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879.

Édouard-Léon Martinville passed away on April 26, 1879 (Age: 62).

Thomas Edison demonstrated an incandescent electric light bulb that lasted 13 1/2 hours on October 21, 1879.

James Jacob Ritty patented the world's first cash register on November 4, 1879.

President Rutherford B. Hayes became the first president with a phone in the White House in 1879 and got the phone number "1."


Thomas Edison received patent #223,898 for the electric lamp on January 27, 1880.

Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant Charles Summer Tainter create the photophone on February 19, 1880. The optical communications device transmitted speech over a beam of light.

ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) was founded in 1880.

Albert Hull was born on April 19, 1880.

James Bryce was born on September 5, 1880.

Piezoelectricity was discovered by French physicists Jacques and Pierre Curie in 1880.


Emanuel Goldberg was born on August 31, 1881.


William Jevons passed away on August 13, 1882 (Age: 46).

Thomas Edison was awarded patent # 252,442 on January 17, 1882, for the carbon microphone used in telephones.

The first commercial electric power station became operational on September 4, 1882.

Fredrik Bull was born on December 25, 1882.


Edith Clarke

Edith Clarke was born on February 10, 1883.

American Thomas Edison discovered the Edison effect, where an electric current flows through a vacuum.

Percy Ludgate was born on August 2, 1883.


Izrael Staffel passed away in 1884.

Herman Hollerith filed his first patent for The Hollerith Electric Tabulating System.


American Telegraph and Telephone company (AT&T) was incorporated on March 3, 1885.

Julius E. Pitrap of Gallipolis, patented his first computing scale in 1885.


Heinrich Rudolf Hertz proves electromagnetic waves and that electricity is transmitted at the speed of light.

James Rand was born on November 18, 1886.

Dr. Herman Hollerith conducts the first practical test of his tabulating system in recording and tabulating vital statistics for the Baltimore (Maryland) Department of Health.


Yamaha was founded on October 12, 1887.


Clair Lake was born in 1888.

National Geographic Society was established on January 27, 1888.

Nikola Tesla patented the rotating field motor on May 1, 1888, and later sold the rights to George Westinghouse. This invention helped create and transmit AC (alternating current) power, and today is still a method for generating and distributing AC power.

William S. Burroughs patented a printing adding machine.

John Baird was born on August 14, 1888.

Thomas Edison filed for a patent for the Optical Phonograph (film camera) on October 17, 1888.

Eastman Kodak was issued U.S. patent number 388,850 for his roll-film box camera on September 4, 1888, and the company was founded in the same year.

John Loud got a patent for the ballpoint pen on October 30, 1888.

Dr. Alexander Dey invented the first dial recorder in 1888. Dey's business was one of the building blocks of C-T-R (that became IBM).

Friedrich Reintzer discovered liquid crystals.


Harlow Bundy incorporated the Bundy Manufacturing Company as the first time recording company in the world. It produced a time clock to record a worker's arrival and departure time on a paper tape.

Herman Hollerith first describes the tabulating machine in his doctoral thesis. He also received the first patent for his electric tabulating machine in 1889.

Nintendo was founded in 1889.


Henry Phillips

Henry Philips was born in 1890.

Christopher Sholes passed away on February 17, 1890 (Age: 71).

Vannevar Bush was born on March 11, 1890.

The company we now know as GE was founded in 1890 by Thomas Edison as the Edison General Electric Company.

Herman Hollerith developed a method for machines to record and store information onto punch cards for the US census. The system reduced an almost 10-year process to two and a half years and saved over $5 million. He later formed the company we know as IBM today.


Phillips was founded in 1891.

Giovanni Caselli passed away on June 8, 1891.

Edward Canby and Orange Ozias purchased Julius Pitrap's patent and incorporated The Computing Scale Company as the world's first computing scale company.


The American company General Electric was founded on April 15, 1892.

Werner Siemens passed away on December 6, 1892 (Age: 75).


Typewriter with QWERTY layout.

The first Underwood typewriter was invented by Franz Xaver Wagner and was filed for U.S. patent 523,698 on April 27, 1893.

On May 1, 1893, Nikola Tesla helped power the world's first fair powered by AC electricity in Chicago.

Leslie Comrie was born on August 15, 1893.

Dey Patents Company, which manufactures the first dial time recorder, was formed. It was later renamed Dey Time Register Company.


Heinrich Hertz passed away on January 1, 1894 (Age: 36).

August Dvorak

August Dvorak was born on May 5, 1894.

Norbert Weiner was born on November 26, 1894.

Pafnuty Chebyshev passed away on December 8, 1894 (Age: 73).

J. L. Willard and F. A. Frick of Rochester, New York, formed the Willard and Frick Manufacturing Company in 1894, the first card time recorder company.


Guglielmo Marconi became the first person to receive a radio signal in 1895.

Nortel Networks was founded in 1895.

Paul Galvin was born on June 27, 1895.

The Underwood Typewriter Company was founded in 1895.

Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays on November 8, 1895.

The Computing Scale Company introduced the first automatic computing scale.


Niagara Falls began generating power from Nikola Tesla AC power generators starting the electric age in America.

IBM logo

Herman Hollerith started the Tabulating Machine Company. The company became one of the companies that helped form IBM (International Business Machines).


Gertrude Blanch was born.

Maxwell Newman was born on February 7, 1897.

Emil Post was born on February 11, 1897.

German scientist Karl Ferdinand Braun invented the Cathode-Ray Oscilloscope.

Thomas Edison patented the Kinetoscope, a motion picture viewer on August 31, 1897.


Alcatel was founded in 1898.

Russell Ohl was born in January 1898.

Nikola Tesla invented the remote control on November 8, 1898.


Gustav Tauschek was born on April 29, 1899.

NEC logo

Nippon Electric Company was renamed to NEC Corporation on July 17, 1899.

AT&T acquired assets of American Bell and became the parent company of Bell System in 1899.

The Retail Credit Company was founded in 1899 by Guy Woolford, the company would later become Equifax.

The first key punch (job time recorder) was developed in 1899.

Sprint was founded in 1899.

Sedlbauer was founded in 1899.

On September 13, 1899, Henry Bliss became the first North American pedestrian to be killed by an automobile.

The Bundy Manufacturing Company acquired the Standard Time Stamp Company, a manufacturer of timestamps and a card recorder.

William D. Middlebrook patented the paper clip on November 9, 1899.

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