The Founding Fathers of Modern Computer Technology

Written By: Becca Le Blond
27 September 2016

A few names always pop up whenever the origin of the computer is discussed; Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Alan Turing are often the first to spring to mind. However, in recent years the rise of social media has been driving technological advancement (both computing and otherwise). Whether it's Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift, or Twitter buying UK-based video technology start-ups, today’s social media giants mean business.

This wouldn’t be possible without a few founding fathers leading the way, but how did they do it? We’re going to take a trip through computing history to find out.

Alan Turing
Widely regarded as the father of modern computing, Alan Turing’s journey to greatness started at King’s College, Cambridge.

The ‘universal machine’ he theorised about in 1936 was first established as the ‘Automatic Computing Engine’ in 1950, following Turing’s design which was produced in 1946. He then moved on to the University of Manchester to work on their Small-Scale Experimental Machine, a prototype machine used to prove that digital programme storage was possible.

Alan Turing’s innovation paved the way for the digital age we now live in, one which the following entrepreneur was ready and willing to take advantage of.

Bill Gates
William “Bill” Gates III co-founded Microsoft on April 4th, 1975 with his childhood friend, Paul Allen.

Being the entrepreneurial type, Bill got started when he called MITS (the makers of the Altair microcomputer) to tell them that he had a new computer language for their machine. He didn’t - yet.

Eight short weeks later Allen and Gates had Microsoft's first programming language, Altair Basic, written and working, and the company hit the ground running.

Their earliest big money-maker came when they created the MS-DOS operating system (OS) for IBM in 1981. A 16-bit operating system, users would need to use command lines to access and navigate through files. Whilst now obsolete, its legacy is the Windows command line which is included in all of Microsoft's current operating systems.

Windows 1.0 was developed later (and released in 1985) with the purpose of making an easy to use OS that was affordable enough to get a computer in every home: Bill succeeded. The start menu, task bar, the brand new (to Microsoft) mouse, and easily-navigable graphic user interface (GUI) have all been constants in Windows OS’s since. The low cost of Windows 1.0 was the first step towards widely available personal computer (PC) hardware – led by a software company!

With Windows, Microsoft has developed a line of operating systems that have had a market share of over 90% for decades (until earlier this year anyway). Bill’s success is enduring - as is the "friendly" rivalry between Microsoft and Apple.

Steve Jobs

Apple was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne.

Jobs’ approach to entrepreneurship and leadership is a source of much contention, but his drive for excellence led to the creation of the Apple II – the first personal computer designed with colour graphics and a keyboard. However, it’s original price tag of $2,495 was out of range of most consumers.

After being effectively ousted in 1985, following the poor performance of the Macintosh, Jobs led Apple back to profit on his return to the company in 1997. Leading the development of multiple iconic Apple products, the innovation that social media magnates are likely most thankful for is the iPhone.

Years after the first model was released, the iPhone 6s is the best-selling smartphone in 2016 (at time of writing - the iPhone 7 may have something to say about that soon).

Of all the time spent on social media, smartphones are used for 67% of it - a big point of interest for the next guy on the list.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

At 20 years old, Zuckerberg founded “The facebook”. Originally created as a social networking site for Harvard students, it quickly gained popularity throughout the university, with over half the undergraduate population having a "The facebook" profile within a month. A few years and a name change later, Facebook became available to anyone with a registered email address in 2006.

Recognising the trend of users spending more time on mobile browsers, Facebook launched its first app in 2010. They gambled on web-based apps eventually winning over apps that were tailored to specific phone OS’s. This proved to be one of the few failures in its history, and a dedicated iOS app was launched in 2012.

With 1.71 billion users (at time of writing), Zuckerberg created the social media website with the most users worldwide. Checking Facebook has become a part of most people’s morning routine and it doesn’t look to be going away any time soon.

Jack Dorsey
Twitter, the micro-blogging site that could, was delivered to us in 2006 by Jack Dorsey. Well, it was a team effort, but the original idea (and the first tweet) was Jack’s.

Credited with bringing the hashtag, as it's currently known, into use, Twitter (and Dorsey in the process) has revolutionised the way we interact with each other. Real-time discussions with strangers about TV shows or current events has become socially acceptable, and brands are making headlines with their customer service wins and gaffes on the platform.

The progress of computing and communication in the last 30 years can only be described as exceptional, and we can’t wait to see what comes next. We’re working hard every day here at Gnatta to be as big a part of that future as our founding fathers have been.

Gnatta allows businesses of all sizes to listen and engage with their customers on an individual basis via one single interface. The number of ways customers can contact you is expanding quicker than ever before, not only can you respond to everything from within Gnatta, but Gnatta actively helps the operator follow the customer through their experience, giving you a better picture of what the customer wants. Gnatta helps you give them faster, better and more informed responses across communication channels, reacting to tweets, Facebook messages, SMS messages, email, marketplace and review sites. Gnatta also provides a comprehensive suite of analytics giving users a greater understanding of what their customers are saying about them. If you would like more information about Gnatta, please contact Jack Barmby, CEO or by telephone (07775967300). Or for any press enquires, contact or by telephone (07928671011) Sign up and get to know us!