Tuesday, November 15, 2022

19th Century Computers - No Kidding!


When most people think of the word computer, they think of it being a relatively modern term. You might be surprised to learn that the word computer dates back as far as the 1600's! In 1640 the word computer meant "one who calculates." Which of course referred to a person. 


But in the late 19th century the word computer evolved to a different definition because people realized that machines never tired and they could work faster and more accurately than any human ever could. So in the 1900's the word computer took on a whole new meaning-- "calculating machine."

Now granted, these were not desktops, laptops, tablets or the cool little phone computers we stick in our pockets, on our belts, or in our pocketbooks and seem to be lost without. But none-the-less these inventions were a steppingstone to the technology we have today.


Charles Babbage, an English engineer is considered "the father of the computer." In 1822, Babbage made the Difference Engine to help aid in navigational calculations. This machine is considered to be the first automatic computing machine or engine and was able to compute multiple sets of numbers. What is really fascinating about this machine (remember we are talking the early 1800's) is that it also made hard copies of the results.



After working on the Difference Engine, Charles Babbage realized a more general design was possible. He began working on the Analytical Engine in 1833. The input and data would be supplied by punch cards. This machine was said to be a century ahead of its time. Unfortunately, due to funding, neither of Charles Babbage's computers were ever completed while he was alive.

However, in 1910, Charles' youngest son, Henry managed to complete a portion of the computer and it was able to perform basic calculations.





 A tide-predicting machine, invented by Sir William Thomson in 1872, was the first modern analog computer. Thomson continued to work on and improve his inventions. The picture to the left, shows the third edition of his tide-predicting design.

There are many more computers invented by different men in the late 1900's showing the ingenuity of the men from this century.




Moving on to the 20th century

In 1936 German inventor Konrad Zuse came on the scenes developing a computer in his parents living room. By 1941, he had the world's first working electromechanical, fully programmable, automatic digital computer. (Okay, just so you know I am not a computer wiz and though this sounds very fascinating, I had to ask my husband what it meant.)

Tommy Flowers who worked for the Post Office Research of London began to explore using electronics for the telephone exchange in the 1930s. Little did he know that his interest in technology would result in world changing events.

The Lorenz SZ were German cipher computers used in World War II by the German Army and were
developed by C. Lorenz. These new codes were nearly impossible for the Allied Forces to crack.  They needed help breaking these messages if they were going to win the war.

World War II brought new needs for the use of computers. When the need to crack the German encryption machine arose, Flowers was commissioned to build the Colossus to break the German's codes. On February 5, 1944, the Colossus was delivered to Bletchley Park and began working on its first message.

Unfortunately, just like computers today cause quandaries for many parents, the information Winston Churchill received from the Colossus gave him a dilemma that no man wants to face. He had to decide if he should reveal his hand to the Germans and warn his people of an upcoming raid or sacrifice the few for the many?


Deirdre Mackenzie has spent her life hiding from her father and hating the English. However, when she is caught stealing from an English laird, his unexpected kindness begins to melt away her hatred and strums lonely heartstrings longing for love. Bryce Warwick discovers the “boy” caught with his livestock is actually a young woman. After several attempts to lure the truth from her, he determines she is as deceitful as his late fiancĂ©e who nearly cost him his life. But the woman is the least of his worries with the turbulence brought on by threats of another border war and by King Richard's distrust of the nobles.

With old wounds in need of healing and adversaries who would ruin their chances at true love, both must learn to trust in a way they never knew possible.

The stakes are high, secrets prevail, and treason is just a kiss away.

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She writes in the medieval/renaissance period as well as 19th century. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 3 dogs, 4 horses, miniature donkey, and 8 ducks. Life is good!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your post today! And a cliffhanger to boot....are you going to tell us the answer to Churchill's dilemma?

    ReplyDelete