The break-throughs in computing devices brought to the world by the likes of Pascal and Leibniz were certainly remarkable achievements for their time. However, it would take over a hundred years before devices were developed that would actually gain popularity and produce efficiency in calculations for large masses of people as a result.
By the 1800s, drawing from the early work of Pascal and Leibniz, inventors had designed sophisticated mechanical calculators. Charles Xavier Thomas, a Frenchman like Pascal, was responsible for the invention of the first mechanical calculator that properly calculated not only addition, subtraction and multiplication, but division as well.
A less related development took place in 1804 at the hands of Joseph Marie Jacquard, yet another citizen of France. Jacquard developed a machine that would mechanically control the weaving of loom through punch cards. This became extremely popular at the time as mill owners would be able to increase productivity and profits while cutting overhead (the cost of weavers). Of course, the weavers took note of what was happening and loathed Jacquard for costing them their jobs. Today, modern punch cards are in fact a tribute to the work of this man and as any employee checks in for work, or checks out, he or she is using a device based at least in premise on that invention.
The next big step for the ancient computer wouldn’t come from France, but her neighbor to the North: Great Britain. Here, a mathematician by the name of Charles Babbage would develop the Difference Engine (with monetary assistance from the government). This was the first successful automatic mechanical calculating machine, great for performing routine calculations.
Charles had a better idea though, and soon abandoned this project. He called it the Analytical Engine. With the help of his assistant, Augusta Ada King (the Countess of Lovelace from 1815 to 1842), Babbage began work on the world’s first digital computer into which instruction routines would be fed (routines created by Lady Lovelace). Babbage died before he was able to complete his work which would be carried on by his son.