1815: English mathematician George Boole, who would help establish what is now known as Boolean logic, is born.
Boole’s breakthrough was the insight that logic, which had previously been considered a branch of philosophy, was actually closer to mathematics. All you needed to do was express logical problems in a symbolic format, and they could be solved in a way similar to mathematical problems.… Read the rest
1954: IBM builds the first calculating machine to use solid-state transistors instead of vacuum tubes.
IBM already had a business selling calculating machines, and it was humming along quite nicely. The IBM 604 Electronic Calculating Punch, which IBM introduced in 1948, was a desk-sized cabinet that ate and spat out punch cards in its single-minded mission of calculating math problems — 20 to 40 addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problems for each card.… Read the rest
1837: The U.S. Patent Office approves Thomas Davenport’s application for a patent on an “Improvement in Propelling Machinery by Magnetism and Electro-Magnetism.” We’d call it an electric motor.
Davenport was a Vermont blacksmith and an amateur tinkerer, not a trained scientist or engineer.… Read the rest