Computing Events of the 1600s

“It is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation which could safely be relegated to anyone else if machines were used.

(Describing, in 1685, the value to astronomers of the hand-cranked calculating machine he had invented in 1673.)”
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz



  • English scientist William Gilbert coined the word electricus after careful experiments.
  • Microsoft Windows Epoch time is set to start on January 1, 1601. The Gregorian calendar operates on a 400-year cycle, and 1601 is the first year of the cycle that was active at the time Windows NT was being designed. In other words, it was chosen to make the math come out nicely.


  • The word “computer” was first recorded as being used in 1613 and was initially used to describe a person who performed calculations or computations. The definition of a computer remained the same until the end of the 19th century when it began referring to a machine that performed calculations.


  • Frances Blaise Pascal invents the machine, called the Pascaline, that can add, subtract, and carry between digits.


  • Gottfried Leibniz demonstrates binary arithmetic, a discovery that shows every number can be represented by 0 and 1 only.


Drawing of the Pascaline



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