How Much Math Do You Need As A Computer Science History of the Computer – Computers and Technology

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History of the Computer – Computers and Technology

The volume and use of computers in the world are so great that they are already difficult to ignore. Computers appear to us in so many ways that we often don’t see them as they really are. People associated with a computer when they bought their morning coffee from the vending machine. While they were going to work themselves, the traffic lights that so often got in our way are controlled by computers to try to speed up the journey. Accept it or not, the computer has invaded our life.

The origins and roots of computers began as many other inventions and technologies have in the past. They evolved from a relatively simple idea or plan designed to help perform functions more easily and quickly. The first basic type of computer was designed to do this; calculate!. They performed basic math functions such as multiplication and division and displayed the results in various methods. Some computers displayed results in a binary representation of electronic lights. Binary denotes using only ones and zeros, so on lights represented ones and off lights represented zeros. The irony of this is that people needed to perform another math function to translate binary to decimal to make it user readable.

One of the first computers was called ENIAC. It was huge and monstrous in size almost that of a standard railway carriage. It contained electronic tubes, heavy gauge wiring, angle iron and knife switches just to name a few of the components. It has become hard to believe that computers have evolved from the suitcase-sized microcomputers of the 1990s.

Computers finally evolved into less archaic-looking devices by the late 1960s. They had shrunk to the size of a small automobile and were processing segments of information at a faster rate than older models. Most computers at this time were called “mainframes” due to the fact that many computers were connected together to perform a certain function. The main user of this type of computer were military agencies and large corporations such as Bell, AT&T, General Electric and Boeing. Organizations like these had the funds to afford these technologies. However, the operation of these computers required extensive intelligence and manpower resources. The average person would not have been able to understand trying to operate and use these million dollar processors.

The United States was credited with the title of pioneer in the computer. It was not until the early 1970s that nations such as Japan and the United Kingdom began to use their own technology for computer development. This resulted in newer components and smaller sized computers. The use and operation of computers had become a form that people of average intelligence could handle and manipulate without much ado. As the economies of other nations began to compete with the United States, the computer industry expanded at a great rate. Prices dropped dramatically and computers became more affordable for the average household.

Like the invention of the wheel, the computer is here to stay. The operation and use of computers in our current era of the 1990s has become so easy and simple that we may have taken too much for granted. Almost all use in society requires some form of training or education. Many people say that the predecessor of the computer was the typewriter. The typewriter definitely needed training and experience to operate it at a usable and efficient level. In the classroom, children are taught basic computer skills in order to prepare them for the future evolution of the computer age.

The history of computers began about 2000 years ago, with the birth of the abacus, a wooden frame that holds two horizontal wires with beads strung on them. When these beads are moved, according to programming rules memorized by the user, all the usual arithmetic problems can be done. Another important invention around the same time was the astrolabe, used for navigation.

Blaise Pascal is usually credited with building the first digital computer in 1642. He added numbers entered with dials and was made to help his father, a tax collector. In 1671, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz invented a computer that was built in 1694. It could add and, after changing a few things, multiply. Leibnitz invented a special stop gear mechanism for entering the additive digits, and it is still in use.

The prototypes made by Pascal and Leibnitz were not used in many places, and were considered strange until a little more than a century later, when Thomas of Colmar (also known as Charles Xavier Thomas) created the first mechanical calculator of success that could add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Many desktop calculators followed, improved by many inventors, so that by 1890 the range of improvements included: accumulation of partial results, automatic storage and re-entry of previous results (memory function A), and printing of results. Each of them requires a manual installation. These improvements were made primarily for commercial users, and not for the needs of science.

While Thomas de Colmar was developing the desktop calculator, a number of very interesting developments in computers were started in Cambridge, England, by Charles Babbage (after whom the computer shop “Babbages” is named), a professor of mathematics . In 1812, Babbage realized that many long calculations, especially those needed to make mathematical tables, were really a series of predictable actions that were constantly repeated. From this he suspected that it should be possible to do this automatically. He began to design an automatic mechanical calculating machine, which he called the difference engine. By 1822, he had a working model to demonstrate. Financial assistance was secured from the British government and Babbage began manufacturing a differential engine in 1823. It was intended to be steam-powered and fully automatic, including printing the resulting tables, and commanded by a fixed program of instructions .

The difference engine, although it had limited adaptability and applicability, was truly a breakthrough. Babbage continued to work on it for the next 10 years, but in 1833 he lost interest because he believed he had a better idea; the construction of what would now be called a general-purpose, fully program-controlled automatic mechanical digital computer. Babbage called this idea an analytical engine. The ideas behind this design showed a lot of foresight, although this could not be appreciated until a full century later.

Plans for this engine required an identical decimal computer that worked with numbers of 50 decimal digits (or words) and had a storage capacity (memory) of 1,000 of these digits. Integrated operations were supposed to include everything a modern general-purpose computer would need, including the important conditional control transfer capability that would allow commands to be executed in any order, not just the order in which they were programmed.

As people can see, it took a great deal of intelligence and fortitude to arrive at the style and use of computers in the 1990s. People have assumed that computers are a natural development of society and take them for granted. In the same way that people have learned to drive an automobile, it also takes skill and learning to use a computer.

Computers in society have become difficult to understand. What exactly they consisted of and what actions they performed depended a lot on the type of computer. Saying that a person had a typical computer does not necessarily limit the capabilities of that computer. Computer styles and types covered so many different functions and actions that it was difficult to name them all. The original computers of the 1940s were easy to define their purpose when they were first invented. They mainly performed mathematical functions many times faster than anyone could have calculated. However, the evolution of the computer had created many styles and types that depended heavily on a well-defined purpose.

Computers in the 1990s fall roughly into three groups consisting of mainframes, network drives, and personal computers. Mainframe computers were extremely large modules and had the ability to process and store massive amounts of data in the form of numbers and words. Mainframes were the first types of computers developed in the 1940s. Users of these types of computers ranged from banking firms, large corporations, and government agencies. They were usually very expensive, but designed to last at least five to ten years. They also needed well-educated and experienced labor to operate and maintain. Larry Wulforst, in his book Breakthrough to the Computer Age, describes the old mainframes of the 1940s compared to those of the 1990s by speculating: “…the contrast with the sound of the engine propelling the first flights of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk and the roar of powerful engines on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral.” End of the first part.

Works cited

Wulforst, Harry. Advancement in the computer age. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1982.

Palferman, Jon, and Doron Swade. The dream machine. London: BBC Books, 1991.

Campbell-Kelly, Martin, and William Aspray. Computer, a history of the information machine. New York: BasicBooks, 1996.

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