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A short history of computers

Whether you know it or not you depend on computers for almost every thing you do in modern day life. From the second you get up in the morning to the second you go to sleep computer are tied into what you do and use in some way. It is tied in to you life in the most obvious and obscure ways. Take for example you wake up in the morning usually to a digital alarm clock. You start you car it uses computers the second you turn the key (General Motors is the largest buyers of computer components in the world). You pick up the phone it uses computers. No mater how hard you try you can get away from them you can't. It is inevitable.

Many people think of computers as a new invention, and in reality it is very old. It is about 2000 years old .1 The first computer was the abacus. This invention was constructed of wood, two wires, and beads. It was a wooden rack with the two wires strung across it horizontally and the beads were strung across the wires. This was used for normal arithmetic uses. These type of computers are considered analog computers. Another analog computer was the circular slide rule. This was invented in 1621 by William Oughtred who was an English mathematician. This slid ruler was a mechanical device made of two rules, one sliding inside the other, and marked with many number scales. This slide ruler could do such calculations as division, multiplication, roots, and logarithms.

Soon after came some more advanced computers. In 1642 came Blaise Pascal's computer, the Pascaline. It was considered to be the first automatic calculator. It consisted of gears and interlocking cogs. It was so that you entered the numbers with dials. It was originally made for his father, a tax collector.2 Then he went on to build 50 more of these Pascaline's, but clerks would not uses them.3 They did this in fear that they would loose their jobs.4

Soon after there were many similar inventions. There was the Leibniz wheel that was invented by Gottfried Leibniz. It got its name because of the way it was designed with a cylinder with stepped teeth. 5 This did the same functions of the other computers of its time.

Computers, such as the Leibniz wheel and the Pascaline, were not used widely until the invention made by Thomas of Colmar (A.K.A Charles Xavier Thomas).6 It was the first successful mechanical calculator that could do all the normal arithmetic functions. This type of calculator was improved by many other inventors so it could do a number of many other things by 1890. The improvements were they could collect partial results, a memory function (could store information), and output information to a printer. These improvement were made for commercial uses mainly, and also required manual installation.

Around 1812 in Cambridge, England, new advancements in computers was made by Charles Babbage. His idea was that long calculations could be done in a series of steps the were repeated over many times.7 Ten years later in 1822 he had a working model and in 1823 he had fabrication of his invention. He had called his invention the Difference Engine.

In 1833 he had stopped working on his Difference Engine because he had another idea. It was to Build a Analytical Engine. This would have been a the first digital computer that would be full program controlled. His invention was to do all the general- purposes of modern computers. This computer was to use punch cards for storage, steam power, and operated by one person.8 This computer was never finished for many reasons. Some of the reasons were not having precision mechanics and could solve problems not needed to be solved at that time.9 After Babbage's computer people lost interest in this type of inventions.10 Eventually inventions afterwards would cause a demand for calculations capability that computers like Babbage's would capable of doing.

In 1890 an new era of business computing had evolved. This was a development in punch card use to make a step towards automated computing, which was first used in 1890 by Herman Holler. Because of this human error was reduced dramatically.11 Punch Cards could hold 80 charters per card and the machines could process about 50 -220 cards a minuet. This was a means of easily accessible me memory of unlimited size.12 In 1896 Hollerith had founded his company Tabulating Machine Company, but later in 1924 after several mergers and take-overs International Business Machines (IBM) was formed.

An invention during this time ,1906, would influence the way that computers were built in the future, it is the first vacuum, and a paper was wrote by Alan Turingthat described a hypothetical digital computer.13

In 1939 there was the first true digital computer. It was called the ABC, and was designed by Dr. John Astanasoff.

In 1942 John O. Eckert, John W. Mauchly, and associates had decided to build a high speed computer. The computer they were to build would become to be known as the ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integration And Calculator). The reason for building this was there was a demand for high computer capacity at the beginning of World War two.

The ENIAC after being built would take up 1,800 square feet of floor space.14 It would consist of 18,000 vacuum tubes, and would take up 180,000 watts of power.15 The ENIAC was rated to be 1000 times faster than any other previous computer. The ENIAC was accepted as the first successful high speed computer, and was used from 1946 to 1955.16

Around the same time there was a new computer built was more popular. It was more popular because it not only had the ability to do calculations but it could also could do the dissension make power of the human brain. When it was finished in 1950 it became the fastest computer in the world.17 It was built by the National Bureau of standards on the campus of UCLA. It was names the National Bureau of Standards Western Automatic Computer or the SWAC. It could be said that the SWAC set the standards for computers for later up to present times.18 It was because the had all the same primary units. It had a storage device, a internal clock, an input output device, and arithmetic logic unit that consisting of a control and arithmetic unit.

These computers were considered first generation computers (1942 - 1958).

In 1948 John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Schockley of Bell labs file for the firs patent on the transistor.19 This invention would foundation for second generation computers (1958 - 1964).

Computers of the second generation were smaller(about the size of a piano now) and much more quicker because of the new inventions of its time. Computers used the much smaller transistor over the bulky vacuum tubes. Another invention which influenced second generation computers and every generation after it was the discovery of magnetic core memory. Now magnetic tapes and disks were used to store programs instead of being stored in the computer. This way the computer could be used for many operations without totally being reprogrammed or rewired to do another task. All you had to do was pop in another disk.

The third generation(1964 - 1970) was when computers were commercialized then ever before. This was because they were getting smaller and more dependable.20 Also the cost went down and power requirements were less.21 This was probably because of the invention of the silicon semiconductor. These computers were used in mainly medical places and libraries for keep track of records and various other reasons. These computer of the third generation were the first micro computers.

The generation of computers we are in now is the forth generation it started in 1970. The forth generation really started with an idea by Ted Hoff, an employ of Intel, that all the processing units of a computer could be placed on one single chip. This Idea that he had was not bought by many people.22 I believe that with out this idea upgradeable computers would never have been designed. Today, every thing has a microprocessor built into it.23

The microcomputer was changed forever in 1976 when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak had sold a Volkswagen and a calculator for $1300 to build the first Apple.24 The work the did was in their garage. They Had founded their company 1983, and had successfully mad the fortune 500 list.25

Two years before Apple was founded IBM had announced the release of the IBM PC. Over the next 18 months the IBM would become an industry standard.26

From the 1980 on there was a was a large demand for microcomputers Suck as the IBM PC and Apple not only in industry but in the homes of many people. Many other computers appeared during the 80's. Some were the Commodore, Tandy, Atari, and game systems such as the nintendo and many others. There was aslo a large demand for computer games for the home PC. Because of these many demands many companies were getting very competitive. They were pushing for the faster better computer. Buy the late 80's because of this demand microprocessors could handle 32 bits of data at a time pushing over 4 million instructions processed a second.27

It seem as if over time computers have evolved in to totally different machines but if you put it in to perspective they are also much alike. But on the other hand With almost every business and many families today are in demand of better and newer computers it seems that if you buy a new computer today industry had made it obsolete before you it. This is probably because the better you make a computer and quicker it can do calculations the quicker it can help you in designing an new computer that is even faster. It is a domino effect that was started back 2000 years ago and will probably never end. Who knows what's in store for the future or you could say the fifth generation of computers.

1. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.Compatible, http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 1

2. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg.

3. Hale, Andy. History of Computers.Http://www2.ncsu.edu/eos/service/bae/www/courses/bae221/jeff/comphist.htm, IBM Compatible. 1995-96. Internet. Andy_Hale@ncsu.edu . pg. 1

4. Hale, Andy. History of Computers.Http://www2.ncsu.edu/eos/service/bae/www/courses/bae221/jeff/comphist.htm, IBM Compatible. 1995-96. Internet. Andy_Hale@ncsu.edu . pg. 1

5. Hale, Andy. History of Computers.Http://www2.ncsu.edu/eos/service/bae/www/courses/bae221/jeff/comphist.htm, IBM Compatible. 1995-96. Internet. Andy_Hale@ncsu.edu . pg. 1

6. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 1

7. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 2

8. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 3

9. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 3

10. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 3

11. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 3

12. Hale, Andy. History of Computers.Http://www2.ncsu.edu/eos/service/bae/www/courses/bae221/jeff/comphist.htm, IBM Compatible. 1995-96. Internet. Andy_Hale@ncsu.edu . pg. 2

13. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 4

14. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 4

15. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 4

16. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 5

17. Rutland, David. Why Computers Are Computers. New York: Waren Publishers, 1996 p. 2

18. Rutland, David. Why Computers Are Computers. New York: Waren Publishers, 1996 p. 2

19. Polsson, Ken. Chronology of Events in the History of Micro Computer.http://www.islandnet.com/kpolsson/comphist.htm, IBM Compatible, Internet. 1995-96 Ken.polsson@bbc.org . pg. 3

20. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 6

21. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 6

22. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 6

23. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 6

24. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 6

25. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 6

26. Meyers, Jeremy. A Short History of the Computer.http://www.lightning.net/~softlord/comp.html, IBM Compatible, Internet,sotflord@lightning.net pg. 6

27. Hale, Andy. History of Computers.Http://www2.ncsu.edu/eos/service/bae/www/courses/bae221/jeff/comphist.htm, IBM Compatible. 1995-96. Internet. Andy_Hale@ncsu.edu . pg. 8

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