I believe that the most important invention is the computer. In this essay I will outline some of the reasons that I think this.According to the Oxford English Dictionary a computer is “An electronic device for storing and processing data, typically in binary form, according to instructions given to it in a variable program”. However, if we broaden our definition a little to include mechanical devices as well as electronic devices we can trace the computer back to the ancient Greek Antikythera Mechanism which is an Ancient Greek computer, that was discovered in July 1901, commonly thought of as the first mechanical computer.
It is thought to originate from the end of the 2nd century B.C. and is technically more complex than any known computer for a millennium afterwards.It contains a complicated arrangement of at least 30 precision hand-cut bronze gear powered by a single hand crank. It was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipse by modelling the passage of time and the movements of celestial bodies with high precision in order to predict eclipses.
The first ‘proper’ computer was Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine which was designed to solve algebraic equations. Charles Babbage is often considered either the father of the computer or the grandfather of the computer. The difficulty in producing error-free calculations by teams of mathematicians or human “computers” was what fueled Charles Babbage’s desire to build a mechanism to automate the process. In 1833 he realized that a more general design was possible and thus the Analytical Engine was born. The input of programs and data would be provided by punch cards. The machine would also be able to punch numbers onto cards to be read in later. The Engine would have a mathematical logic unit, support for conditional branching and loops and integrated memory making it the first design for a general purpose computer and the first design that in modern terms could be called Turing-complete.Firstly computers can execute tasks repeatedly without getting bored or tired or making mistakes.
This is important because it means a computer can do mathematical calculations over and over again without making mistakes which is useful for computer simulations in industries such as engineering and aerospace.Secondly, computers can perform tasks faster than a human with any modern computer easily reaching 100 million operations per second – this means a computer can search for a new prime number at an unimaginable speed compared to a human trying to find it with pen and paper.Also the internet couldn’t exist without the computer to act as a server and the internet allows a truly global society where people can share information freely and easily across borders. The internet is an incredibly powerful tool for free speech as anyone can create a website and websites like YouTube means anyone can share their opinions with the world in video form. The internet however isn’t totally available to anyone as white supremacist websites and twitter accounts being shut down shows. However TOR and the dark web means that anyone can use the internet for absolutely anything but they will have the much smaller audience of people who also use TOR or the dark web.
The internet allows all knowledge however obscure to be freely open to all with little effort.Computers make our lives easier by allowing people to transfer money wherever they are thanks to online banking. Online shopping means those who are immobile and so can’t leave the house to go to a physical shop can still shop independently. Without the computer, transactions in physical shops would be a lot slower as they would have to add up prices manually which could take a while for a long order particularly if someone thinks they made a mistake and so has to add everything back up again. Also people would have to pay in cash which also has to be counted out manually and if people don’t have enough cash on them they would have to go to a bank for someone to count it out as cash machines wouldn’t be available without computers which will cause huge queues.The stock markets are largely controlled by computers told to buy at a certain price and sell at a certain price or analyse the news to determine whether they should buy or sell or at least assist human traders so without the computer the stock markets would be very different.
Finally computers are part of absolutely everything we do these days from smartphones to printers to powerpoints to word processing to smart televisions to DVD players to cash points.In summary the computer has potentially been around for thousands of years, can perform better than humans in repetitive tasks and those involving numbers, the internet couldn’t exist without it and the world would be very different without it. Also without the computer this essay would have been a lot harder to write and research.