Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz

Born 1646, Saxony; died 1716, Berlin, Germany; inventor in the late 1600s of the first machine to directly perform all four basic arithmetic operations.

Leibniz was aware of Pascal's calculator, which had the capability of adding and subtracting, like many previous machines, but had the added ability to carry (or borrow) between unit positions. He designed a special cylinder with a set of varying length teeth, such that when rotated, the longitudinal position of the corresponding gear conformed to the multiplicand. Leibniz also studied "universal combinatorics," which appears to have been the first attempt to symbolize logic. His work was used later by Boole and others in their own developments of symbolic logic. Leibniz also was the first to note that integration and differentiation were complementary.



Chase, George C., "History of Mechanical Computing Machinery," Ann. Hist. Comp., Vol. 2, No. 3, 1980, pp. 198-226.

Jones, C.V., "Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von," in Ralston, Anthony, and Edwin D. Reilly, Jr., Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1983.

Locke, L.L., "The Contributions of Leibniz to the Art of Mechanical Calculation," Scripta Mathematica, Vol. 1, 1933, pp. 315-321.


Portrait added (MRW, 2013)

PDF version

Original content Copyright © 1995 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
New content Copyright © 2013-2015 by the IEEE Computer Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced or redistributed without the express written permission of the copyright holder.