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The era of Antiquity (continued)

1846 - 1873

The telephone and typewriter were invented in this period. The industrial diligence of developing devices has become unstoppable and concequently the industrial revolution began.

There was a lot of political turmoil especially in Europe and Asia, which lead to World War I.


pre history | antiquity | pre industrial era | industrial era
1620 - 1672 - 1773 - 1810 - 1830 - 1846 - 1874

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Boolean Algebra
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Alexander Bain uses perforated tape to transmit telegrams. The tape is nicknamed 'ticker tape' because of the ticking sound made by the telegraph. This procedure sped up the transmission of information very much. And until well into the 20th century companies used this method for transmitting information.

These perforated tapes, or punch tapes, will also be adopted for the output of computer. The teletype (telex) terminals accepted only this kind of tape and were the sole way to communicate with computers. Thus data the punched tape will be used for the decades to come in dataprocessing.



George Boole (1815-1864), a British mathematician, proved in his

Mathematical Analyses of Logic (1847) and Investigation of the Law of Thought (1854)

the relation between mathematics and logic; his algebra of logic (BOOLEAN algebra or binary logic) made it possible to treat a number of logical problems as algebraic operations.
This was a breakthrough for mathematics and Boole was the first to prove that logic is part of mathematics and not of philosophy as was commonly accepted by scientists of this era.

Charles Babbage completed this and the next few years 21 drawings of the second generation Difference Engine but the machine will never be realized.(19)

Ferdinand Braun, a professor in physics at Marburg (Germany) constructed the first solid state to detect a radio signal.



slide rule Amedee Mannheim(10)

The calculator disc invented by William Oughtred was simplified by Amedee Mannhein (Fr.) and took the form of a ruler that came into common use.



Victor Schilt exhibited a punch key driven calculator (adding machine) during the Crystal Palace exhibition in London (UK). This machine displayed no 'zero'.



Nov 27, Ada Lovelace (b.1815), Lord Byron's daughter and is the inventor of computer programming, was bled to death by physicians at age 36, she had cancer of the uterus. She helped Charles Babbage develop his "Analytical Engine," that performed mathematical calculations through the use of punched cards.(9)



The Scheutz Difference Engine completed: the world's first printing calculator.




George Boole 1815–1864 describes his system for symbolic and logical reasoning: "An Investigation of the Laws of Thought..." (when he was 39) a work that is of fundamental importance in the study of the foundations of pure mathematics and is also at the basis of computer technology. (6)

His Boolean algebra is based on simple logical decisions like:

  • If this is a personal computer AND cost over one million it is expensive
  • If this car is NOT yellow it has another color
  • If I eat a lot of rice OR patatoes my appetite is over

More algebraic:

(A <> B) > 10 AND (A < B) > 0

This statement means: A is different from B and where A can be smaller than B the latter should be larger than 0 where the difference is always larger than (positive) 10

One can see that the Boolean algebra is more elegant and easier to understand.



Heinrich Geissler Igelshieb developed a vacuum pump. He used mercury as medium because of its high density. With this pump, one could reach alsmost absolute vacuum and this was something the industry had been waiting for. This vacuum technique lead to the development of the Cathode-Ray Tube (CRT, the standard television screen is a CRT). Later, the existence of the electron will be proven with the help of this same CRT device.



The first transatlantic cable between the UK and USA is a fact. After a few years of toiling and disappointments the world became a lot smaller. Communication between two continents is now possible with only a few seconds of delay. Although the laying of this first cable was seen as a landmark event in society, it was a technical failure. It only remained in service a few days. The ones laid in 1866 and on will be a lot more succesfull. Some will even remain in operation for over a hundred years!



Sir Charles Wheatstone - also the inventor of the accordion - introduced the first application of paper tapes as a medium for the preparation, storage, and transmission of data.
His paper tape used two rows of holes to represent Morse's dots and dashes. Outgoing messages could be prepared off-line on paper tape and transmitted later. (4)


The first Tabulating Machine is purchased by the Dudly Observatory in Albany, New York. It is used to produce a set of astronomical tables. The Director of the observatory is fired for his extravagant purchase and the machine is never used again. It eventually ended up in a museum.(1)



Antonio Meucci (1808 - 1896) Italian by birth, demonstrates his "teletrofono" in New York. This makes him the inventor of the telephone in stead of Graham Bell. It was Bell however who took out a patent 16 years later in 1876, having had access to Meucci's materials. Bell officially got condemmed for fraud in 1886 but that did not help much to restore Meucci's rights. The powers in play were too forcefull to give rights to whom they were due. (11, 12). It will take untill Jun 11, 2002 that Muecci's invention will be recognized.

Antonio Meucci 1808 - 1896
picture courtesy: italianhistorical.org


Giovanni Casselli brought the first fax machine on the market: the Pantelegraph.

Johann Philipp Reis, a Hessian teacher, demonstrated the first electrical transmission of speech.

Unfortunately, he failed to find support in Germany.(5)



fowler adding machineFowler designed a simple adding machine

fowlers adding machine




Malling-HansenThe TYPEWRITER is introduced and is one of those great inventions that will revolutionize administration and communication. Writing business letters by hand will disappear within a few years. At left is an early typewriter called the 'writing ball', invented by the Danish Maling Hansen in 1867.




First QWERTY keyboard

The arrangement of characters on a QWERTY keyboard is designed by Christopher Sholes(1819-1890), the inventor of the typewriter. According to popular myth, Sholes arranged the keys in their odd fashion to prevent jamming on mechanical typewriters by separating commonly used letter combinations. However, there is no evidence to support this assertion, except that the arrangement does, in fact, inhibit fast typing.

QWERTY is pronounced as "kwer-tee", and refers to the arrangement of keys on a standard English computer keyboard or typewriter. The name derives from the first six characters on the top alphabetic line of the keyboard. (7)

Original patent drawing Sholes (8)



William Stanley Jevons build the first practical logical machine that is based on the priciples of the Boolean algebra(25). He was professor of logic a Owenn's College and described this machine in Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. (1870), in a paper "On the Mechanical performance of Logical Inference", and in his "Principles of Science" (1873).
The machine was, in Jevons own words, "capable of exhibiting an answer to any question which may be put to it concerning the possible combinations which form any class".(3)



Charles Babbage produces a prototype of the Analytical Engine's printer and mill, demonstrating this got him some seed money to start his project.



In 1873, Frank Baldwin applies for a patent for a machine "which at all times has the capacity to add, subtract, multiply and divide with no resetting of the mechanism and with no form of conversion for any of the processes." While employed by a lumber company, Baldwin had been asked to repair a Thomas Machine, which is when he probably got the idea to build his own.

He replaced the Leibnitz and Thomas cylinders with a single cylinder from whose periphery a variable number of teeth (1 through 9) protrude according to the motion of the setting lever. The levers project through slots at the front of the machine.

When the lever is set, corresponding numbers of teeth project from the wheel.


With a crank of the handle, the projecting teeth gear with a cogwheel, which activates a digit wheel, and the numbers corresponding to the projecting teeth appear in the register.

Baldwin joined forces with Monroe in 1912 and formed the Monroe Calculator Company. A pioneer in electric adding machines since 1922, the firm is still in this business.



18301874index Last Updated on September 11, 2006 For suggestions please mail the editors 

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