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Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Who invented the first computer?
  2. Who made the first personal computers?
  3. What was the first laptop?
  4. What was the first computer bug and when did computer viruses first appear?
  5. Who invented the mouse?

1. Who invented the first computer?

It all depends on your definition of computer. Charles Babbage in the 1830s devised a plan for the first stored-program mechanical computer, using data modeled after the punched card templates used in industrial (Jacquard) looms. The first electronic digital computer was the ABC built by John V. Atanasoff and Clifford Berry in 1940 at Iowa State University. Several of its ideas were incorporated into the ENIAC which ran from 1945-1955 and is considered the first functionally useful electronic digital computer. The patent for ENIAC was awarded to Atanasoff by court order in 1974. The first commercially available electronic computer in the USA was the UNIVAC I, bought by and delivered to the US Census Bureau in 1951.

2. Who made the first personal computers?

One of the earliest personal computers was the Intellec 4 by Intel, using their first commercially produced microprocessor - the four-bit 4004. The Altair built by MITS was the first commercially successful personal computer and the computer Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote Microsoft's (then known as Micro-Soft) first software product for - "BASIC for the Altair."

3. What was the first laptop?

The TRS-80 Model 100 comes as close to it as you will ever get in 1983. Running on 4 AA batteries, it was popular with newspaper reporters and made filing stories from the field much easier, provided they had access to a telephone line.

4. What was the first computer bug and when did computer viruses first appear?

Grace Hopper found a moth had landed in between the solenoid contacts in the Mark II Calculator, a massive analog computer at Harvard University, designed by Howard Aiken. She removed the squashed moth and annotated her log book with an entry (along with the moth fastened to the page) that referred to the first "computer bug." Computer viruses became a problem in the 1980s as DOS based computers began to proliferate. The file structure utilized by these machines made it relatively easy in 1986 for the maker(s) of the "Brain" virus to play havoc with the boot sectors on floppy disks. In 1988, an anti-virus program was devised to remove Brain from infected floppies.

5. Who invented the mouse?

Douglas Engelbart, then at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), demonstrated a mouse-keyboard component at a computer conference in 1968 in San Francisco.

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BEFORE THE PC

2006 San Diego Computer Museum
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