Challenges Faced in Inventing Computers

Challenges Faced in Inventing Computers

Many scientists who tried to come up with computers functioning like the human brain have encountered several challenges that void their efforts. Their intentions have always been to come up with a highly intelligent device that can store data, but that can facilitate easy retrieval (Risinger, 2015). As a result, the mechanical computer created by Charles Babbage cannot resemble computers used today because it was highly ineffective and heavy. The word ‘computer’ was used for the first time in 1613 to refer to individuals who could perform calculations and computations. Therefore, computers were intended to do the same function with significant ease. However, the proper path of development was hampered by some challenges such as lack of funds, difficulty in searching for resources to create computers, and eh ineffectiveness of the early computers among others. The challenges almost stalled the whole process of developing computers. The discussion below identifies and explains the challenges that made the initial invention of computers difficult.

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Challenges that Faced Initial Invention of Computers

Various challenges made the first steps of creating computers difficult. First, the people wanted instant success in their desire of coming up with intelligent computers (Nigon, 2013). They wanted the first computers to do calculations and computational operations that were beyond human capabilities. However, after a heavy investment of time and resources, the devices were highly mechanical, ineffective, and unreliable. For instance, the Babbage’s computer created was heavy, unprogrammable, and could not execute some operations. Therefore, the move to develop computers was viewed to have stalled, and no success was expected after that.

Moreover, there was great emphasis on creating computers that could work just as the human brain. Therefore, some individuals who wanted to create computers were unable to create such devices and gave up. For instance, though Babbage’s son, Henry Babbage, later continued with his father’s ideas by finishing the project of creating an intelligent computer but the final work was unappealing. The excessive manual operations made it ineffective. Possibly, people could not create what they had in their minds but what was expected of them. With the emphasis on what was to be made for the society, the burden of delivering the flawless computer was just unbearable, and the inventions became unsustainable.

The subsequent inventions were very advanced and effective than the computer created by Babbage. However, the resources that were required to build them were excessive. The Z1 was created between 1936 and 1938 by Konrad Zuse and showed significant improvements from the previous models, as it could be programmed to do certain things (Swanson, 2012). However, it was too big compared to the human brain. This influenced the need for coming up with something that was similar to the human brain but the materials to be used could not be found easily. Therefore, the people who created them ended up using more resources but got an insignificant appreciation for their work. For instance, the Z1 did not effectively follow instructions and failed to replicate what the human brain could do. Therefore, the weakness was below human expectations and earned little recognition.

The early computers were ineffective and inaccurate in analyzing data. For instance, they analyzed data using mathematical variables in the form of physical quantities although they were varying continuously. Therefore, the inventors focused more on replacing real and physical processes by mathematical models having the same properties. At this point, they were referred to as analog computers. Although they could show the solutions simply and graphically, they were still inaccurate, unreliable, and ineffective (Risinger, 2015). The biggest advantage of analog computers was that they could generate continuous signals using dials and switches for input and meters for output. However, people wanted digital computers that could handle large volumes of data, allow easy retrieval, and had increased security of the data it stores among other advantages (Swanson, 2012). They wanted computers that can be personalized and used by different individuals without causing any loss of data. The digital computers could easily mimic analog computers and handle large volumes of data among other advantages.

Therefore, the creation of computers demanded significant individual effort. The time spent thinking over what could constitute the whole invention was important. Moreover, the collection of resources was still a challenge, and some computers such as the famous ABC had no CPU. Therefore, the computer did not allow programming and was significantly unreliable. The computer could not allow people to make complex calculations and operations. As a result, they could not be taken to represent how a human brain works. Similarly, ENIAC did not receive a good reception especially because of its size and weight. The computer occupied one, 88 square feet and used about 18, 000 vacuum tubes (Nigon, 2013). Moreover, the devices weighed close to fifty tons. Therefore, the invention was viewed as not replicating what a human brain is and how it works. The size and weight of the machine meant that it could not be used effectively. The people behind its invention could not consider their work as meaningful or helpful because the device could not do basic things or match the human brain. However, the devices had numerous weaknesses and could not replace the human brain.

Human Brain

Initial Computers


Small in size

Very big


Can handle large volumes of data

Ineffective and unreliable in handling large amounts of data


Not subject to wear and tear

Can easily wear and tear and thus the need to keep them in safe places


Cannot be easily manipulated and misused

Easily manipulated and misused because of poor security features



The initial development of computers was geared towards coming up with devices that could do what a human brain or even supersede their capability and performance. However, there were minimal studies on how a human brain operates. Therefore, some of the inventions were ineffective and inappropriate. The focus on replicating the human brain also made it difficult for the people developing computers to arrive at meaningful conclusions on certain issues. For instance, the ENIAC computer was faulty from all perspective and could not be adopted at all (Swanson, 2012). However, such a decision to consider some devices invalid or inappropriate hindered creativity and the need for improvement. Therefore, the prospects of improving and coming up with desirable devices were hampered. The focus was on mimicking the human brain and thus the instances of confusion among those who gave their time and resources to invent computers.


The initial stages in the invention of computers were characterized by very many challenges. The people wanted devices that could replicate the functioning of the human brain. However, getting exact devices proved difficult. The resources that were required to make the computers were limited, and this affected the human effort. However, the biggest challenge remained that of making a computer that could do things accurately, effectively, and reliably. Nonetheless, the focus of making a computer that could handle large volumes of data and assure the security of information was not lost (Risinger, 2015). Although significant improvements were made over time, they could not yet replace the human brain.




Nigon, K. (2013). Advanced specification Drafting Issues: Electronic and Computer Inventions Part II. Computer and Internet Lawyer, 30(5), 7-20.

Risinger, C.F. (2015). Teaching about How Inventions and technology have Changed U.S. History. Social Education, 79(2), 115-116.

Swanson, R.D. (2012). Section 101 and Computer-Implemented Inventions. Stanford Technology Law review, 1(1), 161-187.

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