Computer Chronology

Everybody comes to this world with ten fingers. Those fingers are the most valuable computers. Can you operate your PC or laptop without your fingers? This lady knows how valuable they are.

Some years ago, Chinese invented sophisticated fingers that can deal with numbers greater than ten. This is the Russian variation of the abacus. I obtained this computer while I was in Moscow in 1991.

About 150 years ago, French artillery men invented this computer which can perform multiplication by addition. I still use the smaller (pocket sized) slide rule when I go to restaurants with my friends. I have to add 15-percent tip to the total bill (multiply by 1.15) and divide it by the number of people.

This is a vacuum-tube circuit. I used to like vacuum tubes when I was a high-school student, and I was able to write an article about Marconi and Sarnoff three months ago. Indeed, in the 1940s, John von Neumann observed those tubes can perform "Yes or No" logic. We all know what happened since then.

For the history of electronic computers, you may visit

Richard Feynman was intensely interested in communicating with the nature. He was of course interested in the language of quantum mechanics. Sooner or later, we are going to construct marketable quantum computers.

Click here for future computers.

John von Neumann (1903 -- 1957)

  • Fuld Hall, at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton). John von Neumann's office was in this building, so was Einstein's office.

  • von Neumann in his home living room, photograph by Alan Richards hanging in Fuld Hall, courtesy of the Archives of the Institute of Advanced Study.

  • von Neumann Papers in the Library of Congress.

  • Biography

  • Biography

Courtesy of Budapesti Evangelikus Gimnazium

Courtesy of the Archives of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton)

The following photos are copyrighted by the Institute for Advanced Study, and they were photographed by Alan Richards unless otherwise specified. For copyright information, visit
  1. Portrait of John von Neumann (photographer unknown).

  2. Portrait of John von Neumann (photographer unknown).

  3. von Neumann in front of fireplace

  4. Kari (John's wife), Inverse (dog) and von Neumann on couch

  5. von Neumann standing in front of the Institute computer

  6. J. Robert Oppenheimer and von Neumann in front of the Institute computer

  7. Left to right: James Pomerence, Julian Bigelow, von Neumann and Herman Goldstine

  8. Staff of the Electronic Computer Project

  9. Left to right: unknown, unknown, Gerald Estrin, unknown, J. Robert Oppenheimer, unknown, Julian Bigelow, Norman Emslie, James Pomerence, hewitt Crane, and von Neumann

  10. Left to right: Julian Bigelow, Herman Goldstine, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and von Neumann

  11. von Neumann and guests looking at the Institute computer

  12. The Institute computer

  13. von Neumann, Julian Bigelow, James Pomerence, and Herman Goldstine

  14. von Neumann and Oppenheimer

copyright@2004 by Y. S. Kim, unless otherwise specified.