Learn a little about Leibniz, who’s more than just Isaac Newton’s adversary, from Slate.
When did the information age begin? One might point to the winter of 1943, when British engineers started using a room-sized machine dubbed “Colossus,” the world’s first electronic digital programmable computer, to break Nazi codes during the World War II. Or perhaps it was February 1946, when the U.S. Army unveiled the faster, more flexible Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (aka ENIAC) at the University of Pennsylvania. History buffs may push it back further, perhaps bringing up key 19th-century figures like Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace who pioneered programmable calculating machines in Victorian England.
But we should look back even earlier, to the work of a towering but often overlooked intellect—to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, the German philosopher and polymath who died 300 years ago on Nov. 14, 1716. Though you may not have heard of him, he was a man who envisioned the systems and machines that would define the digital revolution.
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