Leibniz' final years were overshadowed by a priority
fight with the powerful president of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton,
who said he had invented calculus
before Leibniz, without publishing it,
and who made friends sign texts he wrote to support this claim.
Today's historians give credit not only to Leibniz and Newton
but also to the much earlier Indian Kerala School, in particular,
Madhava of Sangamagrama. All of them extended the
pioneering work on infinitesimals and special cases of
calculus by Archimedes.


Leibniz, sometimes called the last universal genius,
invented at least two things that are essential for the modern world:
calculus, and the principles of binary computers based on bits.
Modern physics, math, engineering would be unthinkable
without the former:
the fundamental method of dealing with
infinitesimal numbers. Leibniz was the first
to publish it. He developed it around 1673.
In 1679, he perfected
the notation for integration and differentiation
that everyone is still using today.
The principles of binary computers based on the dual system
he published in 1679. This became the
basis of virtually all modern machines.
 
Top: This non programmable Leibniz computer, the step reckoner (1671),
featured a stepped drum
which found use in numerous subsequent computers.
It was the first machine with a memory.
The first non programmable computer, however, was due to
Schickard (1623).
Compare the
computer history speedup page.
 
