The CEO of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world, Bill Gates, is known for his computer empire. But, did he invent the computer and the internet?
Bill Gates did not invent the computer or the internet. The computer was invented by an Englishman named Charles Babbage. He created the concept of a programmable computer and invented the world’s first mechanical computer. The internet was invented by multiple scientists and engineers, no single person can be attributed with its invention.
You can read more below about the invention of the computer, the invention of the internet, and how Bill Gates’ Microsoft fits into all of it.
The Invention of the Computer
The whole concept of the computer was thought up all the way back in the early 1800s. Before the concept of a computer was thought up, mathematical equations were computed by people and put into big tables for wide access.
Charles Babbage, an English mathematician, thought of creating a machine that could calculate these complex equations instead of a person. This vision earned him the nickname “father of the computer.”
In 1822, he invented a device that he called the Difference Engine. The Difference Engine could calculate simple additions and subtractions, it was the basis for the calculators that we have today.
The problem with the Difference Engine was that it was unable to calculate more complex mathematical problems. It was a start though.
Babbage spent the rest of his life trying to invent a working computer but was never successful at getting past the design stage. However, all of his notes for his second machine, the Analytical Engine, included his own version of every component that is found within a modern-day computer.
It was over one hundred years later that Alan Turing came up with his concept of the Turing Machine. It was the idea of a machine that could compute anything.
This concept was the one behind the development of the modern-day computer and where we get the term Turing-complete. This term means that a device is computationally universal.
It was still a long time before the computer became what it is today. Companies like Hewlett-Packard and IBM had a big hand in turning these massive machines into the small devices we use today.
You can watch the below video for a more detailed explanation of the history of the computer.
The Invention of the Internet
As mentioned above, the invention of the internet can’t be pointed to one individual. Its invention was the work of a huge group of scientists and engineers over a long time.
The idea of a network that could reach across the world was something that many scientists thought of before there was any way it could be invented. One of the people who had this idea was the famous inventor Nikola Tesla.
However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the internet would become an idea that was within reach. It was in the late 1960s that ARPANET was funded by the Department of Defence and leaps and bounds were taken towards inventing the foundation for today’s internet.
In 1969 the first-ever message was sent through the ARPANET from a computer at UCLA in Los Angeles to a second computer at Stanford in the Bay Area. The attempt crashed the entire network, but again this was a start.
It was from this basis that the ARPANET that Tim Berners-Lee was able to eventually create what he called the World Wide Web in 1990. The ARPANET was renamed TCP/IP in 1983 and is something we all still use today.
Where does Bill Gates and Microsoft fit in?
If Bill Gates didn’t invent the computer or the internet how do he and his company Microsoft fit into all of this? Did they ever help with the leaps and bounds taken in the world of technology?
Well, Microsoft was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen. They founded the company to make software for one of the only personal computers at the time called the Altair 8800.
They were able to create their own operating system called MS-DOS, which they sold to IBM. Then in 1985, they released their very first version of the operating system that is still in use on most computers today, Windows.
The operating systems that Microsoft created were revolutionary to the computing industry and are what has made Bill Gates the billionaire he is today.