Who is the father of the computer?
There are hundreds of people who have made major contributions to the field of computing. The following sections detail the primary founding fathers of computing, the computer, and the personal computer we use today.
Father of computing
Charles Babbage was considered the father of computing after his concept and invention of the Analytical Engine in 1837. The Analytical Engine contained an ALU (arithmetic logic unit), basic flow control, and integrated memory, hailed as the first general-purpose computer concept. Unfortunately, because of funding issues, this computer was not built while Charles Babbage was alive.
However, in 1910, Henry Babbage, Charles Babbage's youngest son, completed a portion of the machine that could perform basic calculations. In 1991, the London Science Museum completed a working version of the Analytical Engine No. 2. This version incorporated Babbage's refinements, which he developed while creating the Analytical Engine.
Although Babbage never completed his invention in his lifetime, his radical ideas and concepts of the computer make him the father of computing.
Father of the computer
Several people can be considered the father of the computer, including Alan Turing, John Atanasoff, and John von Neumann. However, we consider Konrad Zuse as the father of the computer with the advent of the Z1, Z2, Z3, and Z4.
From 1936 to 1938, Konrad Zuse created the Z1 in his parent's living room. The Z1 had over 30,000 metal parts and was the first electromechanical binary programmable computer. In 1939, the German military commissioned Zuse to build the Z2, largely based on the Z1. Later, he completed the Z3 in May 1941; the Z3 was a revolutionary computer for its time and is considered the first electromechanical and program-controlled computer. Finally, on July 12, 1950, Zuse completed and shipped the Z4 computer, the first commercial computer.
Father of the personal computer
Henry Edward Roberts coined the term "personal computer" and is considered the father of modern personal computers after he released the Altair 8800 on December 19, 1974. It was later published on the front cover of Popular Electronics in 1975, making it an overnight success. The computer was available as a kit for $439 or assembled for $621 and had several additional add-ons, such as a memory board and interface boards. By August 1975, over 5,000 Altair 8800 personal computers were sold, starting the personal computer revolution.
Other computer pioneers
Thousands of pioneers have helped contribute to developing the computer we know today. See our computer pioneer list for additional biographies of foundational computer visionaries.