Vintage Computers: A Look at the Early Days of the Information Age

January 17, 2022

Today, computers are so much a part of our lives that it is hard to imagine a time when they didn’t exist. While it is true that the various pieces and parts that went into a working computer can trace their introduction back more than two centuries, the modern computer age didn’t really begin until 1936. 

NASA employees working with IBM type 704 electronic data processing machine used for making computations for aeronautical research at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, March 21, 1957. Image courtesy National Aeronautics and Space Administratio

As these colorized photographs show, the computer has gone through a tremendous evolution. From simplistic calculators to massive, room-sized machines, the computer’s journey to modernity was full of punch cards, floppy disks, and scuzzy cords. 

Alan Turing’s Universal Machine

Two generations of Colossus, the Mark 1 and Mark 2, were used by British codebreakers to decrypt coded German messages at the end of WW2. (

The modern computer era really began with Alan Turing, a British mathematician, inventor, and scientist. In 1936, he presented his plans for a universal machine for computing numbers. Dubbed the Turing machine, the device was capable of complex mathematical equations. It formed the basis on which future computer technology was built.