Development of the digital computer
Blaise Pascal of France and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz of Germany invented mechanical digital calculating machines during the 17th century. The English inventor Charles Babbage, however, is generally credited with having conceived the first automatic digital computer. During the 1830s Babbage devised his so-called Analytical Engine, a mechanical device designed to combine basic arithmetic operations with decisions based on its own computations. Babbage’s plans embodied most of the fundamental elements of the modern digital computer. For example, they called for sequential control—i.e., program control that included branching, looping, and both arithmetic and storage units with automatic printout. Babbage’s device, however, was never completed and was forgotten until his writings were rediscovered over a century later.