Computer science: The history of computer development


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Computer science continues to break boundaries today. Wearable electronic devices, self-driving cars, and video communications shape our lives on a daily basis. 

The history of computer science provides important context for today’s innovations. Thanks to computer science, we landed a person on the moon, connected the world with the internet, and put a portable computing device in six billion hands.  

In 1961, George Forsythe came up with the term “computer science.” Forsythe defined the field as programming theory, data processing, numerical analysis, and computer systems design. Only a year later, the first university computer science department was established. And Forsythe went on to found the computer science department at Stanford. 

Looking back at the development of computers and computer science offers valuable context for today’s computer science professionals.

Milestones in the history of computer science

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In the 1840s, Ada Lovelace became known as the first computer programmer when she described an operational sequence for machine-based problem solving. Since then, computer technology has taken off. A look back at the history of computer science shows the field’s many critical developments, from the invention of punch cards to the transistor, computer chip, and personal computer. 

Today, it’s impossible to mention our lives without computers. And computer science continues to have a major impact on our daily lives in immeasurable ways.

1890: Herman Hollerith designs a punch card system to calculate the US Census

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