“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”

is a remark commonly attributed to Thomas J Watson, Chairman of IBM in 1943, even though there is seemingly no evidence that he ever said it.

Calculating machines have been around for centuries, from the abacus of 2400BC to the slide rule and pocket calculator of more recent decades. 

It was the 1830s when Charles Babbage started work on his Analytical Engine, the first general purpose computer. It used punch cards for input and a steam engine for power, with gears and shafts to represent numbers.

According to sources, he was a difficult and argumentative man, who fell out with the chief machinist who was hand-building the parts, which was one reason why the project was never finished. You can see an early operational version of his design at the London Science Museum.

In our view, the biggest change in recent years is companies’ dependence on IT. In the old days it wasn’t such a big deal if the computer wasn’t working, because everyone had filing cabinets stuffed with paper copies of everything. Now, it is critical to business success that your IT runs smoothly.

It amazes me that, today, one of my friends has a computer on her desk, a laptop in her briefcase, a smartphone in her hand (and a couple of old machines waiting for a new home once their hard disks have been erased for data protection purposes). So she has access to five computers just for her!

We anticipate that future years will bring even more change, with computers getting ever faster, smaller and more powerful.

For more information, phone Nicky Hodges free on 08000 323 400 (free) or 01737 824000 or email nicky.hodges@tlptech.co.uk.