Greatest Ideas


No single person can lay claim to the invention of the computer, but the idea had its origins in philosophical speculations about calculating machines, notably those of 17th-century German philosopher GW Leibniz.

Later thinkers put flesh on the bones of these speculations, especially the mathematicians Charles Babbage, in the 19th century, and Alan Turing and John von Neumann, in the 20th. But the invention of the computer would not have been possible without parallel developments in logic in the 20th century by philosophers such as Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein. To build a machine that calculates with ideas, we have to understand the forms of reasoning into which ideas fit.