Computers from Prehistory to Today

Seen in Wired today:

Humans have probably been calculating since the moment that Paleolithic hunters first used a scorched stick to scratch a record of their kills on the limestone walls of a cave.

“Rrrr! Og kill four! More than Zog!”

Fast forward a few millennia to July 7, 1752, when Joseph Marie Jacquard is born. His automated loom, controlled by punch cards that encoded the complex fabric patterns it was to weave, led the way for many subsequent calculating and computing machines.

But Jacquard was hardly the first to conceive of using machinery to enhance the human brain’s computing power.

People have built calculating and computing tools for thousands of years. Let’s take a look at a few of the non-electronic predecessors to today’s silicon circuits.