History of Computer Science

Onikle Inc.
Published in
5 min readDec 20, 2021


Image by Atsutaka Odaira

George Forsythe coined the phrase “computer science” in 1961. Programming theory, data processing, numerical analysis, and computer system design are all terms used by Forsythe to describe the discipline. The first university computer science department was formed only a year later. Forsythe went on to build Stanford’s computer science department. Today, computer science continues to push frontiers. Every moment of our life, wearable electronic gadgets, self-driving automobiles, and video communications affect our lives. The history of computer science is crucial for understanding today’s advancements. We placed a human on the moon, linked the globe with the internet, and put a portable computing device in the hands of six billion people thanks to computer science. Looking back on the history of computer science provides a useful background for today’s computer scientists.

Computers are not as modern as people might think. For as long as people have needed to count, they’ve tried to figure out how to make it easier. The abacus was more of a basic counting assistance than a computer when it was initially constructed in Sumer between 2700 and 2300 BCE. It did, however, mark the first step toward people employing technologies to help them with mathematics. The Antikythera Mechanism would be employed to compute astrological positions for the purpose of maritime voyage much later, about 100 BC. In contrast to the abacus, the mechanism is considered to have been the first analog computer. Analog circuits like these would soon be employed to keep track of the stars and, eventually, the passage of time.

The Industrial Revolution, like many other things, was required to accelerate an iteration of Computer Science courses and change them into something new. Even though Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz devised the underlying logic underpinning binary mathematics in 1702, it would take more than a century and George Boole’s work to turn it into a comprehensive, mathematically described system. In 1854, he created the Boolean Algebra. Mechanical devices might employ punch cards or other binary approaches to do jobs that had previously fell to human hands using this binary pattern. In 1810, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace devised the idea for the “Analytical Engine” and the first computer algorithm, respectively, with the invention of binary. These are not to be taken lightly, but they were just hypothetical. However, they would set the foundation for the future of computing devices.

Alan Turing’s work on the Turing Machines, the first abstract digital computer, was published in 1936. This machine is the foundation for all contemporary computers, and it was this machine that first introduced the notion of a stored program. While this machine was speculative at the time, it was only a matter of time until it became a reality, with practically all current programming languages claiming the turning complete designation. Akira Nakashima’s switching circuit theory aided this development by paving the path for the usage of binary in digital computers. His work established the foundation for future circuit design, especially after the idea was discovered by electrical engineers during World War II.

The first digital computer, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, was built on the Iowa State campus between 1939 and 1942. While this was the first, only 8 years later, Britain’s National Physical Laboratory completed the ACE, a small, programmable computer with an operating speed of 1 MHz. Certainly pittance by today’s standards, but at the time, ACE held the title for the fastest computer in the world. Alongside these discoveries, Bell Labs built the first working transistor. This earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1953, and their design was used by governments and militaries for specialized purposes. Bell Labs then went on the produce MOSFET (Metal-Oxide-Silicon Field-Effect Transistor) in 1959, which was the first miniaturized transistor that was mass-produced for a wide variety of applications. The MOSFET would lead to the microcomputer revolution and is a fundamental foundation of digital electronics.

In 1962, Computer science emerged as an academic field. Purdue University established the first computer science department in 1962. Because no textbooks existed, the early computer science majors employed punch card decks, programming flowcharts, and “textbooks” written by the faculty. Two years later, the mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbar and became the tool that has shaped contemporary computing. Millions of people would be able to utilize computers thanks to the tool. Engelbart didn’t stop there; he also created a graphical user interface (GUI) that would mold the contemporary computer.

By the 1970s, innovators chased the notion of personal computers. Computers have reduced in size and cost thanks to microchips and other technology. The Altair was released in 1974. The Altair was a $400 build-it-yourself kit that sold thousands of copies. The next year, Paul G. Allen and Bill Gates invented an Altair programming language and used the proceeds to launch Microsoft. In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak launched Apple Computer out of a Silicon Valley garage. The new business would manufacture personal computers and quickly rise to the top of the tech sector. Apple has continued to develop in personal computer devices for decades.

Computer technology began to advance at a breakneck speed. Several significant improvements in compression, downsizing, mobility, and manufacturing were realized between 1980 and 2000. By 1991, the World Wide Web had been publicly accessible, allowing for unprecedented information exchange. By the year 2000, practically every country had access to the internet, and about half of Americans utilized it on a regular basis. Personal computers became commonplace, followed by mobile phones, and persons with a background in computer science became in high demand to meet the demands of an increasingly modern environment.

With the advancement of cloud computing, artificial intelligence that employs advanced heuristic modeling, machine learning, and other current advancements, it’s apparent that computer science will continue to progress significantly over time. Computer science is now advancing through preprints. The advances achieved in the last 30 years outnumber those made in the preceding 100 years, and those advances significantly outnumber those made in the previous 4000 years. It’s unclear where Computer Science will lead us next as technology advances.

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