Computer science is the study of processes that interact with data and that can be represented as data in the form of programs. It enables the use of algorithms to manipulate and communicate digital information. A computer scientist studies the theory of computation and the practice of designing software systems, its fields can be divided into practical disciplines. Computational complexity theory is abstract, while computer graphics emphasizes real-world applications. Programming language theory considers approaches to the description of computational processes, while computer programming itself involves the use of programming languages and complex systems. Human–computer interaction considers the challenges in making computers useful and accessible; the earliest foundations of what would become computer science predate the invention of the modern digital computer. Machines for calculating fixed numerical tasks such as the abacus have existed since antiquity, aiding in computations such as multiplication and division.
Algorithms for performing computations have existed since antiquity before the development of sophisticated computing equipment. Wilhelm Schickard designed and constructed the first working mechanical calculator in 1623. In 1673, Gottfried Leibniz demonstrated a digital mechanical calculator, called the Stepped Reckoner, he may be considered the first computer scientist and information theorist, among other reasons, documenting the binary number system. In 1820, Thomas de Colmar launched the mechanical calculator industry when he released his simplified arithmometer, the first calculating machine strong enough and reliable enough to be used daily in an office environment. Charles Babbage started the design of the first automatic mechanical calculator, his Difference Engine, in 1822, which gave him the idea of the first programmable mechanical calculator, his Analytical Engine, he started developing this machine in 1834, "in less than two years, he had sketched out many of the salient features of the modern computer".
"A crucial step was the adoption of a punched card system derived from the Jacquard loom" making it infinitely programmable. In 1843, during the translation of a French article on the Analytical Engine, Ada Lovelace wrote, in one of the many notes she included, an algorithm to compute the Bernoulli numbers, considered to be the first computer program. Around 1885, Herman Hollerith invented the tabulator, which used punched cards to process statistical information. In 1937, one hundred years after Babbage's impossible dream, Howard Aiken convinced IBM, making all kinds of punched card equipment and was in the calculator business to develop his giant programmable calculator, the ASCC/Harvard Mark I, based on Babbage's Analytical Engine, which itself used cards and a central computing unit; when the machine was finished, some hailed it as "Babbage's dream come true". During the 1940s, as new and more powerful computing machines were developed, the term computer came to refer to the machines rather than their human predecessors.
As it became clear that computers could be used for more than just mathematical calculations, the field of computer science broadened to study computation in general. In 1945, IBM founded the Watson Scientific Computing Laboratory at Columbia University in New York City; the renovated fraternity house on Manhattan's West Side was IBM's first laboratory devoted to pure science. The lab is the forerunner of IBM's Research Division, which today operates research facilities around the world; the close relationship between IBM and the university was instrumental in the emergence of a new scientific discipline, with Columbia offering one of the first academic-credit courses in computer science in 1946. Computer science began to be established as a distinct academic discipline in the 1950s and early 1960s; the world's first computer science degree program, the Cambridge Diploma in Computer Science, began at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory in 1953. The first computer science degree program in the United States was formed at Purdue University in 1962.
Since practical computers became available, many applications of computing have become distinct areas of study in their own rights. Although many believed it was impossible that computers themselves could be a scientific field of study, in the late fifties it became accepted among the greater academic population, it is the now well-known IBM brand that formed part of the computer science revolution during this time. IBM released the IBM 704 and the IBM 709 computers, which were used during the exploration period of such devices. "Still, working with the IBM was frustrating if you had misplaced as much as one letter in one instruction, the program would crash, you would have to start the whole process over again". During the late 1950s, the computer science discipline was much in its developmental stages, such issues were commonplace. Time has seen significant improvements in the effectiveness of computing technology. Modern society has seen a significant shift in the users of computer technology, from usage only by experts and professionals, to a near-ubiquitous user base.
Computers were quite costly, some degree of humanitarian aid was needed for efficient use—in part from professional computer operators. As computer adoption became more widespread and affordable, less human assistance was needed for common usage. Despite its short history as a formal academic discipline, computer science has made a number of fundamental contributions to science and society—in fact, along with electronics, it is