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Babbag's Analytical Engine, 1834-1871.  (9660574685) .jpg
Experimental model of the analytical engine
Z3 German Museum.JPG
Zuse Z3 , 1941
Two women operating ENIAC.gif
ENIAC , 1946
DEC PDP-7 , 1965
Apple II Plus, Museum of the Moving Image.jpg
Apple II , 1977
IBM PC 5150.jpg
IBM PC , 1981
Notebook ( laptop ) MacBook , 2006
IBM Blue Gene P supercomputer.jpg
IBM Blue Gene , 2007
Summit (supercomputer) .jpg
Summit , 2018

A computer ( English ; German pronunciation [ kɔmˈpjuːtɐ ]) or calculator is a device that processes data using programmable arithmetic rules . Accordingly, the abstracting or outdated, synonymously used terms computer system , data processing system or electronic data processing system and electronic brain can also be found here and there.

Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace apply by designed by Babbage 1837 Abacus Analytical Engine as a pioneer of modern universal programmable computer. Konrad Zuse ( Z3 , 1941 and Z4 , 1945) in Berlin, John Presper Eckert and John William Mauchly ( ENIAC , 1946) built the first functional devices of this type. When classifying a device as a universally programmable computer , Turing completeness plays an essential role Role. It is named after the English mathematician Alan Turing , who introduced the logical model of the Turing machine in 1936 .

The early computers were also called (main) computers; their input and output of data was initially limited to numbers. Modern computers know how to handle other data, for example letters and sounds. However, this data is converted into numbers within the computer and processed as such, which is why a computer is still a calculating machine today.

With increasing performance, new areas of application opened up. Today computers can be found in all areas of daily life, mostly in specialized variants that are tailored to a given application. Integrated microcomputers ( embedded system ) are used to control everyday devices such as washing machines and video recorders or to check coins in vending machines; In modern automobiles , for example, they are used to display driving data and control various maneuvers themselves in " driver assistants".

Universal computers can be found in smartphones and game consoles . Personal computers (English for personal computers, as opposed to the mainframe computers used by many) are used for information processing in business and authorities as well as for private individuals; Supercomputers are used to simulate complex processes, e.g. B. in climate research or for medical calculations.

Conceptual history


The German term calculator is derived from the verb to calculate . For etymology see arithmetic # etymology .


The English noun computer is derived from the English verb to compute . That is derived from the Latin verb computare , which means to add up.

The English term computer was originally a job title for assistants who carried out recurring calculations (e.g. for astronomy , for geodesy or for ballistics ) on behalf of mathematicians and thus made tables such as B. filled a log table. This profession was mainly carried out by women.

In the early history of the church , the Jewish calendar was replaced by the Julian calendar . The resulting difficulties in calculating the Easter date lasted until the Middle Ages and were the subject of numerous publications, often titled Computus Ecclesiasticus . But there are also other titles, e.g. B. by Sigismund Suevus 1574, who deal with arithmetic questions. The earliest text in which the word computer is used in isolation dates from 1613.

In the newspaper The New York Times , the word first appeared on May 2, 1892 in a small display of the United States Navy, entitled A Computer Wanted , wanted a computer ' on, in the knowledge of algebra , geometry , trigonometry have been provided and astronomy .

Ballistic tables were calculated on behalf of the United States Army at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The result were books for the artillery that predicted the trajectories of different projectiles for different guns. Most of these calculations were done by hand. The only help was a tabulator that could multiply and divide. The employees who calculated there were called "computers" (in the sense of a human computer ). The term was first used in 1946 for a technical device in the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) developed there . The term has been used in Germany since 1962.


There are basically two types of construction: A computer is a digital computer if it processes digital data (i.e. numbers and text characters) with digital device units; it is an analog computer if it processes analog data with analog device units (i.e. continuously running electrical measured variables such as voltage or current ).

Today digital computers are used almost exclusively. These follow common basic principles with which their free programming is made possible. A digital computer distinguishes between two basic components: the hardware , which is formed from the electronic, physically tangible parts of the computer, and the software , which describes the programming of the computer.

A digital computer consists initially only of hardware. First of all, the hardware provides a memory in which data can be stored in portions, like on the numbered pages of a book, and can be called up at any time for processing or output. Second, the arithmetic unit of the hardware has basic building blocks for free programming with which any processing logic for data can be represented: These building blocks are in principle the calculation , the comparison and the conditional jump . For example, a digital computer can add two numbers, compare the result with a third number, and then continue at either one or the other point in the program depending on the result. In computer science , this model is theoretically represented by the Turing machine mentioned at the beginning ; the Turing machine represents the fundamental considerations for predictability .

However, it is only through software that the digital computer becomes useful. In principle, every software is a defined, functional arrangement of the above-described components calculation, comparison and conditional jump, whereby the components can be used as often as required. This arrangement of the building blocks, known as a program , is stored in the form of data in the computer's memory. From there it can be read out and processed by the hardware. This principle of operation of digital computers has not changed much since its origins in the mid-20th century, although the details of the technology have improved considerably.

Analog computers work on a different principle. Analog components ( amplifiers , capacitors ) replace logic programming in them. In the past, analog computers were used more often to simulate control processes (see: Control technology ), but have now been almost completely replaced by digital computers . In a transition period there were also hybrid computers that combined an analog and a digital computer.

Possible uses for computers are:

  • Media design (image and word processing)
  • Management and archiving applications
  • Control of machines and processes (printer, industrial production using e.g. robots, embedded systems )
  • Calculations and simulations (e.g. BOINC )
  • Media playback (internet, television, videos, entertainment applications such as computer games, educational software)
  • Communication ( chat , email , social networks )
  • Software development

Hardware architecture

The principle generally used today, which, after its description by John von Neumann in 1946, is called the Von Neumann architecture , defines five main components for a computer:

In today's computers, the ALU and the control unit are usually merged into one component, the so-called CPU (Central Processing Unit, central processor ).

The memory is a number of numbered, addressable "cells"; each of them can hold a single piece of information. This information is stored in the memory cell as a binary number , i.e. a sequence of yes / no information in the sense of ones and zeros.

With regard to the storage unit, an essential design decision of the Von Neumann architecture is that the program and data share a memory area (the data usually occupy the lower memory area and the programs the upper memory area). In contrast, the Harvard architecture provides data and programs with their own (physically separate) memory areas. Access to the memory areas can be realized in parallel, which leads to speed advantages. For this reason, digital signal processors are often implemented in Harvard architecture. Furthermore, data write operations in the Harvard architecture cannot overwrite programs ( information security ).

In the Von Neumann architecture, the control unit is responsible for memory management in the form of read and write access.

The ALU has the task of combining values ​​from memory cells. It receives the values ​​from the control unit, calculates them (adds two numbers, for example) and returns the value to the control unit, which can then use the value for a comparison or write it to another memory cell.

Finally, the input / output units are responsible for entering the initial programs into the memory cells and displaying the results of the calculation to the user.

Software architecture

The Von Neumann architecture is, so to speak, the lowest level of the functional principle of a computer above the electrophysical processes in the conductor tracks. The first computers were actually programmed in such a way that the numbers of commands and of certain memory cells were written into the individual memory cells one after the other as the program required. Programming languages ​​have been developed to reduce this effort . These automatically generate the numbers within the memory cells, which the computer ultimately processes as a program, from text commands that also represent semantically understandable content for the programmer (e.g. GOTO for the "unconditional jump").

Later certain repetitive procedures were combined in so-called libraries in order not to have to reinvent the wheel every time, e.g. E.g. interpreting a pressed keyboard key as the letter "A" and thus as the number "65" (in ASCII code). The libraries were bundled in higher-level libraries, which link sub-functions to complex operations (example: the display of a letter "A", consisting of 20 individual black and 50 individual white dots on the screen after the user has pressed the "A" key) .

In a modern computer, very many of these program levels work above or below one another. More complex tasks are broken down into subtasks that have already been processed by other programmers, which in turn build on the preparatory work of other programmers whose libraries they use. At the lowest level, however, there is always the so-called machine code - the sequence of numbers with which the computer is actually controlled.

Computer system

A computer system is called:

  • a network or a group of several computers that are individually controlled and can access shared data and devices;
  • the totality of external and internal components, ie hardware , software as well as connected peripheral devices , which requires a single fully functional computer in its interaction ;
  • a system of programs for controlling and monitoring computers.



Based on how the computer works

Based on the size

Future prospects

Even more important in less developed countries: a computer course in East Timor

Future developments are likely to consist of the possible use of biological systems ( biocomputers ), further links between biological and technical information processing, optical signal processing and new physical models ( quantum computers ).

A megatrend is currently (2017) the development of artificial intelligence . Here one simulates the processes in the human brain and creates self-learning computers that are no longer programmed as before, but are trained with data similar to a brain. The point in time when artificial intelligence outperforms human intelligence is called technological singularity . Artificial intelligence is already used today (2017) in many applications, including everyday ones (see Artificial Intelligence Applications ). Hans Moravec put the computing power of the brain at 100  teraflops , Raymond Kurzweil at 10,000 teraflops. Supercomputers have already significantly exceeded this computing power . For comparison, a graphics card for 800 euros (5/2016) has a performance of 10 teraflops. Four years later (December 2020) video game consoles already have comparable performance for around € 500.

For further developments and trends, many of which still have the character of buzzwords or hypes , see Autonomic Computing (= computer autonomy ), grid computing , cloud computing , pervasive computing , ubiquitous computing (= computer ubiquity) and wearable computing .

The worldwide web search for the term “computer” has been steadily decreasing since the statistics began in 2004. In the ten years to 2014, that number had fallen to a third.


Intelligenter Persönlicher Assistent Intelligenter Persönlicher Assistent Bitcoin Cloud Computing Google Earth Peer-to-Peer Videoportal VRML Suchmaschine Streaming Media Suchmaschine Webcam Webbrowser File Transfer Protocol WYSIWYG Usenet SPAM Mailbox (Computer) Tabellenkalkulation Ego-Shooter IP-Telefonie Pong E-Mail Datenbanksystem Textverarbeitung Computerspiel OPREMA OPREMA Compiler Computermusik Computermusik Mark I (Computer) Colossus Zuse Z3#Anwendung Swift (Programmiersprache) Julia (Programmiersprache) TypeScript Kotlin (Programmiersprache) Rust (Programmiersprache) Go (Programmiersprache) Windows PowerShell F-Sharp Kylix C-Sharp D (Programmiersprache) PHP Ruby (programming language) Java (Programmiersprache) JavaScript Delphi (Programmiersprache) AppleScript Visual Basic Python (Programmiersprache) Perl SQL HyperCard Eiffel (Programmiersprache) PostScript PARADOX Turbo Pascal C++ Ada (Programmiersprache) DBASE REXX VISICALC Prolog C (Programmiersprache) Smalltalk Pascal (Programmiersprache) Logo BASIC PLI Simula APL (Programmiersprache) COBOL LISP ALGOL FORTRAN Mark I Autocode A-0 Plankalkül LineageOS Microsoft Windows 10 Firefox OS Microsoft Windows 8 Google Chrome OS Microsoft Windows 7 CyanogenMod Android (Betriebssystem) Apple iOS Microsoft Windows Vista Ubuntu Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Z/OS Microsoft Windows XP Mac OS X Extensible Firmware Interface Microsoft Windows 2000 Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition Mac OS Mac OS Microsoft Windows 98 EPOC (computing) Mac OS Debian GNU/Linux Microsoft Windows 95 OS/390 OpenBSD Red Hat Linux Red Hat Linux Windows Windows Solaris (Betriebssystem) Linux (Betriebssystem) OSF/1 BeOS SCO UNIX RISC OS NEXTSTEP OS/400 Windows OS/2 Minix IRIX Apple IIgs AIX operating system Windows TOS AmigaOS Mac OS HP-UX Apple Lisa SunOS MS-DOS Basic Input Output System OS-9 Virtual Memory System Apple DOS Apple DOS CP/M MVS VM/CMS Unix Airline Control Program CP/CMS OS/360 Zen (Mikroarchitektur) Oculus Rift Google Glass Intel-Core-i-Serie iPhone AMD K10 Intel Core Athlon 64 PowerPC 970 Intel Pentium III Apple Power Macintosh Apple iMac Nokia Communicator Intel Pentium Intel 80486 PS/2 Connection Machine Acorn Archimedes Apple IIgs Amstrad 1512 Atari ST Amiga 1000 IBM PC AT Apple Macintosh IBM PCjr IBM PC XT Apple Lisa Connection Machine ARM-Architektur ZX Spectrum Compaq Portable Intel 80286 Commodore 64 BBC Micro IBM-PC ZX81 8010 ZX80 Commodore VIC-20 Motorola 68000 Commodore PET 2001 Intel 8086 TRS-80 Apple II MOS Technologies 6502 Cray Zilog Z80 Einplatinen-Computer Einplatinen-Computer Altair 8800 Altair 8800 Altair 8800 Motorola 6800 Intel 8080 Programmierbarer Taschenrechner Programmierbarer Taschenrechner Superminicomputer Superminicomputer Intel 8008 Intel 4004 BESM (Computer) CDC 6600 PDP-8 System/360 ATLAS OPREMA TRADIC BESM (Computer) UNIVAC 1101 UNIVAC I Remington Rand 409 BINAC Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator Manchester Mark I ENIAC Zuse Z4 Colossus Bell Laboratories#Meilensteine Harvard Mark I Atanasoff-Berry-Computer Zuse Z3 Zuse Z3 Bell Laboratories#Meilensteine Zuse Z1 Smartphone#Smartlets Tablet-Computer Thunderbolt (Schnittstelle) USB 3.0 GPGPU PCI-Express High Definition Multimedia Interface HyperTransport Serial ATA Digital Visual Interface Ethernet#Gigabit-Ethernet DSL DVD-Brenner Universal Serial Bus FireWire DNA-Computer CD-i VESA SVGA Hyper-Threading Advanced Technology Attachment Extended Industry Standard Architecture VGA CD-ROM Enhanced Graphics Adapter Postscript Expanded Memory Specification Advanced Technology Attachment Domain Name System GNU Soundkarte Koprozessor Laptop RISC Musical Instrument Digital Interface Color Graphics Adapter Industry Standard Architecture WIMP (Benutzerschnittstelle) GUI Festplattenlaufwerk SCSI Compact Disc Solid-State-Drive ARCNET Laserdrucker TCP/IP#Geschichte Ethernet Spielkonsole Mikroprozessor#Geschichte Diskette Dynamic Random Access Memory RS-232 ARPANET Lichtwellenleiter Paketvermittlung Fuzzy-Logik Time Sharing Maus (EDV) Paging Virtueller Speicher Interrupt Spooling Integrierter Schaltkreis Integrierter Schaltkreis Matrixdrucker Festplatte Kernspeicher Kernspeicher Magnettrommelspeicher Halbleiterspeicher Transistor Register (Computer)#Geschichte Anwendungssoftware Programmiersprache Betriebssystem Hardware Erfindung Computer#Geschichte

Worldwide market shares of computer manufacturers

Sales figures and market shares of the computer manufacturers according to the market research company Gartner Inc. , based on sales figures of desktop computers , notebooks , netbooks , but without tablet computers , to end consumers:

rank Manufacturer country Sales figures 2017 Market share 2017 Sales figures 2011 Market share 2011 Sales figures 2010 Market share 2010 Sales figures 2009 Market share 2009
1. Hewlett-Packard Flag of the United States.svg 55,179,000 21.0% 60,554,726 17.2% 62.741.274 17.9% 58,942,530 19.1%
2. Lenovo Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg 54,669,000 20.8% 45,703,863 13.0% 38.180.444 10.9% 24.735.404 8.0%
3. Dell Flag of the United States.svg 39,793,000 15.1% 42,864,759 12.1% 42.119.272 12.0% 37,353,774 12.1%
4th Apple Flag of the United States.svg 18,963,000 7.2% under other under other under other under other under other under other
5. Asus Flag of the Republic of China.svg 17,952,000 6.8% 20,768,465 5.9% 18,902,723 5.4% under other under other
6th Acer group Flag of the Republic of China.svg 17,087,000 6.5% 39,415,381 11.2% 48,758,542 13.9% 39,783,933 12.9%
Toshiba Flag of Japan.svg under other under other under other under other 19,011,752 5.4% 15.499.805 5.0%
Other manufacturers 59,034,000 22.5% 143,499,792 40.6% 128.862.141 34.5% 132.026.226 42.9%
All in all 262,676,000 100% 352,806,984 100% 350.900.332 100% 308.341.673 100%

Well-known computer manufacturers

Current manufacturers

Well-known former computer manufacturers



  • Edmund Callis Berkeley: Giant Brains or Machines That Think . 7th edition. John Wiley & Sons 1949, New York 1963 (the first popular representation of EDP, despite the title, which sounds strange to modern ears, very serious and well-founded - relatively easy to find antiquarian and in almost all libraries).
  • BV Bowden (Ed.): Faster Than Thought . Pitman, New York 1953 (reprint 1963, ISBN 0-273-31580-3 ) - an early popular representation of EDP, gives the status of its time understandably and in detail again; only to be found in antiquarian books and in libraries
  • Michael Friedewald: The computer as a tool and medium. The spiritual and technical roots of the personal computer . GNT-Verlag, 2000, ISBN 3-928186-47-7 .
  • Simon Head: The New Ruthless Economy. Work and Power in the Digital Age . Oxford UP 2005, ISBN 0-19-517983-8 (the use of the computer in the tradition of Taylorism ).
  • Ute Hoffmann: Computer women. What part did women have in computer history and work? Munich 1987, ISBN 3-924346-30-5
  • Loading history. Computer history (s) from Switzerland . Museum for Communication, Bern 2001, ISBN 3-0340-0540-7 , exhibition catalog for a special exhibition with a focus on Switzerland, but can be read on its own
  • HNF Heinz Nixdorf Forum Museum Guide . Paderborn 2000, ISBN 3-9805757-2-1 - Museum guide of the world's largest computer museum according to its own description
  • Karl Weinhart: Computer science and automation. Guide to the exhibitions . Deutsches Museum, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-924183-14-7 - Catalog for the permanent exhibitions of the Deutsches Museum on the subject; Especially recommended as supplementary literature for visiting the exhibition
  • HR Wieland: Computer history (s) - not just for geeks: From Antikythera to the cloud . Galileo Computing, 2010, ISBN 978-3-8362-1527-5
  • Christian Wurster: Computers. An illustrated story . Taschen, 2002, ISBN 3-8228-5729-7 (unfortunately the text is not very exact history of EDP with individual errors, but which has its value due to the guest contributions of individual personalities in computer history and the numerous photos).
  • Anfre Reifenrath: History of Simulation , Humboldt University, dissertation, Berlin 2000. History of the computer from its beginnings to the present with special consideration of the subject of visualization and simulation by the computer.
  • Claude E. Shannon: A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits . In: Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Volume 57 . 1938 (pp. 713-723).

Web links

Commons : Computer  collection of pictures, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Computer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
 Wikinews: Portal: Computers  - in the news
Wikibooks: Computer  History - Learning and Teaching Materials

Computer museums

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Alan Turing : On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Decision Problem . In: Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society . Volume s2-42, no. 1 , 1937, pp. 230–265 , doi : 10.1112 / plms / s2-42.1.230 (English, [PDF]).
  2. ^ Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Decision Problem. A correction . In: Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society . Volume s2-43, no. 1 , 1938, p. 544-546 , doi : 10.1112 / plms / s2-42.1.230 (English, [PDF]).
  3. Women once ruled computer science - then money was involved. Retrieved July 3, 2021 (Austrian German).
  4. The Oxford English Dictionary (Third ed.) Of 2008 says in the article on the lemma “computer”: “ 1613 'RB' Yong Mans Gleanings 1, I haue read the truest computer of Times, and the best Arithmetician that your breathed, and he reduces your days into a short number.
  5. ^ Nautical Almanac Office of the United States Naval Observatory
  6. Jenna Anderson: 'HER'story of the Tech Industry: When Women Were Computers. In: Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology Blog. Simon Fraser University, January 13, 2017, accessed May 18, 2020 .
  7. Roland Schulz: When computers were female. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. October 17, 2015, accessed May 24, 2020 .
  8. Computer. In: Retrieved July 27, 2020 .
  9. Computer system. In: Digital dictionary of the German language .
  10. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card: Monster performance for almost 800 euros : 8.87 TFlops.
  11. Google Trends ( Memento of the original from May 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Statistics, last accessed on May 23, 2014 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  12. Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments in Fourth Quarter of 2010 Grew 3.1 Percent; Year-End Shipments Increased 13.8 Percent ( Memento from January 22, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  13. Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments in Fourth Quarter of 2011 Declined 1.4 Percent; Year-End Shipments Increased 0.5 Percent ( Memento from February 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  14. Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments Declined 4.3 Percent in 4Q18 and 1.3 Percent for the Year. Accessed March 4, 2019 .