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Putting it simply, the history of computing science, applications and technological advancement in Hungary can be segmented into a number of movements, starting with the very roots and digging as deeply as the 18th century. This then was followed by major advancements in the 19th Century by English Mathematician Charles Babbage, inventor of the Difference and Analytical Engines, which became the forerunners and foundations of the modern computer.
For Hungary, during a difficult time between World War I and World War II, which then led on to the oppression of Stalin that resulted in the persecution of different engineers, scientists and others in the field of cybernetics. That being said, these fundamental years became the origins of a now thriving computing industry in Hungary, with an exponential boom of growth from the 1960’s onwards.
Incipiently, the historical timeline of many technological and scientific sectors consisted of Hungarian talents and innovators; from those who helped design the aptly named ‘clever’ machines in the early days of calculators and relatively primitive computing.
Predominantly, Hungary was famed for its exemplary education system, specifically in the field of mathematics, which produced a plethora of outstanding scientists. For example, there are internationally recognised mathematicians such as the father/son duo of Farkas and János Bolyai, who became a designer of modern geometry (non-Euclidean geometry) from 1820-1823. János Bolyai, alongside the legendary John von Neumann, is considered as one of the greatest Hungarian mathematicians in history with the Hungarian scientific award (The International János Bolyai Prize of Mathematics) named in his honour.
Moreover, Paul Erdős was a prolific mathematician renowned for publishing his works in more than 40 languages, hence creating the famous ‘Erdős number’, a tribute to his astonishing work of publishing more than 1500 papers.
Returning to the subject of computing, John Louis von Neumann was an incredibly remarkable mathematician who was credited with writing the First Draft of a Report on the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC), one of the early iterations of an electronic computer designed by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly in the 1940’s. This report had in turn laid the foundations of computer architecture. Alongside this, John von Neumann was heavily involved in the Manhattan Project, and formulated the von Neumann model, which is an architecture design that, in short, allowed a computer to store programs and execute instruction cycles. This in turn became the basis of many digital applications and devices since.
Moreover, von Neumann had made paramount contributions in the application of memory to store data in digital computers. He was also the inventor of the highly efficient merge sort algorithm, that halves an array of data to then sort and merge the original input. Following on from this he was in the process of writing the book ‘The Computer and the Brain’, which was a fascinating take on the brain being viewed as a computing machine.