8 Cyberpunk Machines That Changed Computing Forever

Your little smartphone has a big history.

Altair 8800
System Source Computer Museum

You may want to laugh at some of these lumpy devices but remember, the pioneers of modern computing helped win wars and guided people on missions to the moon. What they were able to achieve with limited resources and crude technology is simply astonishing.

Today's tech is so small it leaves us wondering where we can go from here. It's only a matter of time before our devices operate at a molecular level. Our only limitation is screen size and the need to use our fingers.

We're a long way from the hand-cracked computer engines of yesterday, some of which weighed upwards of 5 tons! Try slipping that into your pocket.

The only thing holding these amazing inventors back was the kit they had at their disposal. Ada Lovelace thought up the idea of programming back in 1842. It took another 100 years for the world to catch up with her. The first digital computer was left abandoned in a basement in 1937!

So the next time you switch on your smartphone, spare a thought for these cyberpunks and their magnificent clunking machines.

8. The Analytical Engine (1837)

Altair 8800
Bruno Barral (ByB) / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)

When fully assembled, Charles Babbage’s computer weighed in at 5 tons and had 8,000 parts. It was monstrous to look at but as intricate as a Swiss timepiece.

When it was cranked-up by hand it made error-free calculations far beyond what human minds had been capable of before. And to think the steam train had only just been invented!

Babbage collaborated with Ada Lovelace, the brilliant mathematician who put forward the idea of programming his machines.

If you fancy ordering an Analytical Engine on eBay, you’ll need a spanner and several weeks to put it together. Please read the instructions carefully.

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