Mental Floss

George Dyson on the Birth of the Computer

Chris Higgins

George Dyson returns to TED with a seventeen-minute talk explaining the origins of the digital computer -- in hilarious style. Briefly starting with Leibniz's machine-based calculus proposal from 1679, Dyson takes us on a humorous ride through early computer development, with tons of anecdotes from early computer engineers' notebooks (including scans of all sorts of amusing notes). (If you can't see the visuals well enough below, try downloading the full-size MP4 file). If you like history or math, you'll dig this talk:

Further viewing: George Dyson on Project Orion: The Nuclear Spacecraft; the TED page for his computer history talk.