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1 History of Computers

1 History of Computers

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HISTORY OF COMPUTERS

It took nearly 12 centuries. a Frenchman. It wasn't until 1820. which emerged about 3. multiply and divide. also called a Pascaline. however. it is important to understand their evolution. The drawback to the Pascaline. the abacus lost its importance. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662). In 1694. Partly by studying Pascal's original notes and drawings. improved the Pascaline by creating a machine that could also multiply.one place. Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar. and automatic teller machines (ATM) let us conduct banking transactions from virtually anywhere in the world. For example. particularly in Europe. it moved the next dial . may be considered the first computer. Like its predecessor. the arithometer. a German mathematician and philosopher. was its limitation to addition. used eight movable dials to add sums up to eight figures long. 2 . But where did all this technology come from and where is it heading? To fully understand and appreciate the impact computers have on our lives and promises they hold for the future. invented a machine that could perform the four basic arithmetic functions. or one complete revolution.which represented the ten's column . When the ten's dial moved one revolution. Early merchants used the abacus to keep trading transactions. Colmar's mechanical calculator. This device allows users to make computations using a system of sliding beads arranged on a rack. together with fellow inventors Pascal and Leibniz. With its enhanced versatility. For better or worse. Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz (1646-1716). Although later inventors refined Colmar's calculator.Computers: History and Development Overview Nothing epitomizes modern life better than the computer. Leibniz was able to refine his machine. subtract. computerized telephone switching centers play traffic cop to millions of calls and keep lines of communication untangled. Early Computing Machines and Inventors The abacus. as one dial moved ten notches. Leibniz's mechanical multiplier worked by a system of gears and dials. computers have infiltrated every aspect of our society. the arithometer was widely used up until the First World War. But as the use of paper and pencil spread. the dial representing the hundred's place moved one notch and so on.000 years ago in Asia Minor and is still in use today. The centerpiece of the machine was its stepped-drum gear design. which offered an elongated version of the simple flat gear. of course. In 1642. that mechanical calculators gained widespread use. he helped define the age of mechanical computation. Pascal's device used a base of ten to accomplish this. the 18-year-old son of a French tax collector. Today computers do much more than simply compute: supermarket scanners calculate our grocery bill while keeping store inventory. invented what he called a numerical wheel calculator to help his father with his duties. presented a more practical approach to computing because it could add. This brass rectangular box. however. for the next significant advance in computing devices to emerge.

the automation of computers had begun. census. Unlike Babbage's idea of using perforated cards to instruct the machine. while mathematics. which he called the Analytical Engine. although ultimately never constructed. 3 . Hollerith's method used cards to store data information which he fed into a machine that compiled the results mechanically. Frustrated at the many errors he found while examining calculations for the Royal Astronomical Society. and combinations of two punches represented one letter. founding Tabulating Machine Company in 1896. Babbage's assistant. also applied the Jacquard loom concept to computing. Both business and government used punch cards for data processing until the 1960's. The loom. however. Babbage declared. Babbage noticed a natural harmony between machines and mathematics: machines were best at performing tasks repeatedly without mistake. Consisting of over 50. After working on the Difference Engine for 10 years. later to become International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924 after a series of mergers. Babbage's first attempt at solving this problem was in 1822 when he proposed a machine to perform differential equations. was instrumental in the machine's design. In 1889. and output devices to produce printed results. Hollerith brought his punch card reader into the business world. produced in 1820 and named after its inventor. The previous census in 1880 had taken nearly seven years to count and with an expanding population. Joseph-Marie Jacquard. Charles Babbage (1791-1871). Powered by steam and large as a locomotive. Lady Lovelace's fine understanding of the machine allowed her to create the instruction routines to be fed into the computer. Herman Hollerith (1860-1929).S. Each punch on a card represented one number. census takers compiled their results in just six weeks with Hollerith's machine. called a Difference Engine.The real beginnings of computers as we know them today. Augusta Ada King. Instead of ten years. often required the simple repetition of steps. Babbage's steam-powered Engine.S. the punch cards served as a storage method for data and they helped reduce computational errors. making her the first female computer programmer. It also contained a "mill" with a control unit that allowed processing instructions in any sequence. and communicate the specifics of the Analytical Engine to the public. Countess of Lovelace (1815-1842) and daughter of English poet Lord Byron. used punched boards that controlled the patterns to be woven. In addition to their speed. an American inventor. "I wish to God these calculations had been performed by steam!" With those words. the bureau feared it would take 10 years to count the latest census. In the 1980's. One of the few people who understood the Engine's design as well as Babbage. she helped revise plans.000 numbers of up to 50 decimal digits long. the machine would have a stored program and could perform calculations and print the results automatically. the U. it outlined the basic elements of a modern general purpose computer and was a breakthrough concept. By 1812. Also. secure funding from the British government. Babbage borrowed the idea of punch cards to encode the machine's instructions from the Jacquard loom. particularly the production of mathematic tables. The problem centered on applying the ability of machines to the needs of mathematics. lay with an English mathematics professor.000 components. However. Defense Department named a programming language ADA in her honor. As many as 80 variables could be stored on a single card. the basic design of the Analytical Engine included input devices in the form of perforated cards containing operating instructions and a "store" for memory of 1. Other companies such as Remington Rand and Burroghs also manufactured punch readers for business use. His first task was to find a faster way to compute the U. may seem primitive by today's standards. Babbage was suddenly inspired to begin work on the first general-purpose computer.

Vannevar Bush (18901974) developed a calculator for solving differential equations in 1931. Aiken (1900-1973). The machine was cumbersome because hundreds of gears and shafts were required to represent numbers and their various relationships to each other. Howard H. lost its funding and their work was overshadowed by similar developments by other scientists. The machine could solve complex differential equations that had long left scientists and mathematicians baffled. a Harvard engineer working with IBM. This increased funding for computer development projects hastened technical progress. envisioned an all-electronic computer that applied Boolean algebra to computer circuitry. Mauchly (1907-1980). Consisting of 18. By extending this concept to electronic circuits in the form of on or off. The machine was slow (taking 3-5 seconds per calculation) and inflexible (in that sequences of calculations could not change). the computer was such a massive piece of machinery that it consumed 160 kilowatts of electrical power. it was only designed to decode secret messages. Another computer development spurred by the war was the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). but it could perform basic arithmetic as well as more complex equations. It was about half as long as a football field and contained about 500 miles of wiring. to design airplanes and missiles. or Mark I for short. The Allied forces. Second. Navy. Developed by John Presper Eckert (1919-1995) and John W. American efforts produced a broader achievement.000 resistors and 5 million soldered joints. the British completed a secret code-breaking computer called Colossus to decode German messages.000 times faster than Mark I. John V.S. however. was a general-purpose computer that computed at speeds 1.000 vacuum tubes. governments sought to develop computers to exploit their potential strategic importance. It used electromagnetic signals to move mechanical parts. Clifford Berry. 4 . This approach was based on the mid-19th century work of George Boole (1815-1864) who clarified the binary system of algebra. 70. By 1941 German engineer Konrad Zuse had developed a computer. which stated that any mathematical equations could be stated simply as either true or false. the Z3. Atanasoff and Berry had developed the first allelectronic computer by 1940. unlike the Colossus and Mark I. In 1943. The Colossus's impact on the development of the computer industry was rather limited for two important reasons. a professor at Iowa State College (now called Iowa State University) and his graduate student. however. The Harvard-IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator. Colossus was not a general-purpose computer. 1903). ENIAC. The purpose of the computer was to create ballistic charts for the U.S. made greater strides in developing powerful computers. was a electronic relay computer. produced by a partnership between the U. enough energy to dim the lights in an entire section of Philadelphia. Their project. several engineers made other significant advances. succeeded in producing an all-electronic calculator by 1944. Atanasoff (b. government and the University of Pennsylvania.In the ensuing years. To eliminate this bulkiness. the existence of the machine was kept secret until decades after the war. First. Five Generations of Modern Computers First Generation (1945-1956) With the onset of the Second World War.

5 .In the mid-1940's John von Neumann (1903-1957) joined the University of Pennsylvania team. the size of electronic machinery has been shrinking ever since. allowed for greater versatility in computer programming. transistors led to second generation computers that were smaller. and stored programs. As a result. there were a number of commercially successful second generation computers used in business. both developed for atomic energy laboratories. First generation computers were characterized by the fact that operating instructions were madeto-order for the specific task for which the computer was to be used. and others.S. The transistor replaced the large. the invention of the transistor greatly changed the computer's development. and government from companies such as Burroughs.C. which allowed all computer functions to be coordinated through a single source. Only two LARCs were ever installed: one in the Lawrence Radiation Labs in Livermore. thereby limiting their attractiveness. Both the U. initiating concepts in computer design that remained central to computer engineering for the next 40 years. a capability much in demand by atomic scientists. In 1951. The machines were costly. tape storage. operating systems. D. universities.S. faster. allowing abbreviated programming codes to replace long. built by Remington Rand. difficult binary codes. Von Neumann designed the Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer (EDVAC) in 1945 with a memory to hold both a stored program as well as data. the UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer). The key element to the von Neumann architecture was the central processing unit. memory. This made the computer difficult to program and limited its versatility and speed. and is considered by many to be the Model T of the computer industry. however. Coupled with early advances in magnetic-core memory. Stretch by IBM and LARC by Sperry-Rand. Other distinctive features of first generation computers were the use of vacuum tubes (responsible for their breathtaking size) and magnetic drums for data storage. and tended to be too powerful for the business sector's computing needs. Control Data. This "stored memory" technique as well as the "conditional control transfer. IBM." that allowed the computer to be stopped at any point and then resumed. By 1965. Dwight D. Navy Research and Development Center in Washington. more reliable and more energy-efficient than their predecessors. most large business routinely processed financial information using second generation computers. The transistor was at work in the computer by 1956. These second generation computers were also of solid state design. became one of the first commercially available computers to take advantage of these advances. Second Generation Computers (1956-1963) By 1948. They also contained all the components we associate with the modern day computer: printers. for which the computer was named (Livermore Atomic Research Computer) and the other at the U. Honeywell. radios and computers. The first large-scale machines to take advantage of this transistor technology were early supercomputers. One important example was the IBM 1401. cumbersome vacuum tube in televisions. California. Sperry-Rand. Second generation computers replaced machine language with assembly language. One of UNIVAC's impressive early achievements was predicting the winner of the 1952 presidential election. Each computer had a different binary-coded program called a machine language that told it how to operate. Eisenhower. disk storage. These computers. Throughout the early 1960's. which was universally accepted throughout industry. Census Bureau and General Electric owned UNIVACs. and contained transistors in place of vacuum tubes. could handle an enormous amount of data.

Third Generation Computers (1964-1971) Though transistors were clearly an improvement over the vacuum tube. television sets and automobiles with electronic fuel injection incorporated microprocessors. Whereas previously the integrated circuit had had to be manufactured to fit a special purpose. efficiency and reliability. They were no longer developed exclusively for large business or government contracts. now one microprocessor could be manufactured and then programmed to meet any number of demands. The IC combined three electronic components onto a small silicon disc. In the early 1980's. and computer systems expert) and the entire software industry began with second generation computers. and mathematical formulas. analyst. Scientists later managed to fit even more components on a single chip.in size. called a semiconductor. memory. 6 . Another third-generation development included the use of an operating system that allowed machines to run many different programs at once with a central program that monitored and coordinated the computer's memory. dime helped diminish the size and price of computers. A computer could print customer invoices and minutes later design products or calculate paychecks. Jack Kilby. the only place to go was down . Ultra-large scale integration (ULSI) increased that number into the millions. and input and output controls) on a minuscule chip. The Intel 4004 chip. making it much easier to program a computer. These languages replaced cryptic binary machine code with words. and have expanded to the current day. By the mid-1970's. developed the integrated circuit (IC) in 1958. which was made from quartz. Soon everyday household items such as microwave ovens. By the 1980's. The ability to fit so much onto an area about half the size of a U. Fourth Generation (1971-Present) After the integrated circuits. Large scale integration (LSI) could fit hundreds of components onto one chip. It also increased their power. that is. New types of careers (programmer. sentences. More sophisticated high-level languages such as COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) and FORTRAN (Formula Translator) came into common use during this time. very large scale integration (VLSI) squeezed hundreds of thousands of components onto a chip. As a result. arcade video games such as Pac Man and home video game systems such as the Atari 2600 ignited consumer interest for more sophisticated. they still generated a great deal of heat. programmable home computers. The stored program concept meant that instructions to run a computer for a specific function (known as a program) were held inside the computer's memory.S. and could quickly be replaced by a different set of instructions for a different function. took the integrated circuit one step further by locating all the components of a computer (central processing unit. computers became ever smaller as more components were squeezed onto the chip.It was the stored program and programming language that gave computers the flexibility to finally be cost effective and productive for business use. These minicomputers came complete with user-friendly software packages that offered even non-technical users an array of applications. which damaged the computer's sensitive internal parts. Pioneers in this field were Commodore. computer manufacturers sought to bring computers to general consumers. Radio Shack and Apple Computers. developed in 1971. Such condensed power allowed everyday people to harness a computer's power. The quartz rock eliminated this problem. an engineer with Texas Instruments. most popularly word processing and spreadsheet programs.

IBM introduced its personal computer (PC) for use in the home. introduced in 1984. HAL was a little too human and had a psychotic breakdown. Users controlled the screen cursor using a mouse. use visual input. The most famous example of a fifth generation computer is the fictional HAL9000 from Arthur C. networked computers allowed individual computers to form electronic co-ops. or telephone lines. During the 1992 U. Computers continued their trend toward a smaller size. or networked. (Unfortunately. new ways to harness their potential developed. Clarke's novel. The ability to translate a foreign language is also moderately possible with fifth generation computers. many of its functions are not. but appeared much more difficult when programmers realized that human understanding relies as much on context and meaning as it does on the simple translation of words. A global web of computer circuitry. Using recent engineering advances. these networks could reach enormous proportions.In 1981. the most popular use today for computer networks such as the Internet is electronic mail. As computers became more widespread in the workplace. which was one powerful computer that shared time with many terminals for many applications. As smaller computers became more powerful. the Macintosh offered an operating system that allowed users to move screen icons instead of typing instructions. Using either direct wiring. vice-presidential candidate Al Gore promised to make the development of this so-called "information superhighway" an administrative priority. a device that mimicked the movement of one's hand on the computer screen. which allows users to type in a computer address and send messages through networked terminals across the office or across the world. commandeering a spaceship and killing most humans on board. 65 million PCs were being used.S. called a Local Area Network (LAN). for example. Though the possibilities envisioned by Gore and others for such a large network are often years (if not decades) away from realization. 7 . working their way down from desktop to laptop computers (which could fit inside a briefcase) to palmtop (able to fit inside a breast pocket). Notable for its user-friendly design. HAL could reason well enough to hold conversations with its human operators. In direct competition with IBM's PC was Apple's Macintosh line. or E-mail. links computers worldwide into a single network of information. and learn from its own experiences. As opposed to a mainframe computer. to share memory space. office and schools. the Internet. presidential election. computers are able to accept spoken word instructions (voice recognition) and imitate human reasoning. information and communicate with each other. HAL performed all of the functions currently envisioned for real-life fifth generation computers.5 million in 1982. they could be linked together. software. With artificial intelligence.) Though the wayward HAL9000 may be far from the reach of real-life computer designers. This feat seemed a simple objective at first. 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 1980's saw an expansion in computer use in all three arenas as clones of the IBM PC made the personal computer even more affordable. Ten years later. Fifth Generation (Present and Beyond) Defining the fifth generation of computers is somewhat difficult because the field is in its infancy. The number of personal computers in use more than doubled from 2 million in 1981 to 5.

Many advances in the science of computer design and technology are coming together to enable the creation of fifth-generation computers. Two such engineering advances are parallel processing. Computers today have some attributes of fifth generation computers. Another advance is superconductor technology. It will take several more years of development before expert systems are in widespread use. which replaces von Neumann's single central processing unit design with a system harnessing the power of many CPUs to work as one. expert systems assist doctors in making diagnoses by applying the problem-solving steps a doctor might use in assessing a patient's needs. 8 . greatly improving the speed of information flow. For example. which allows the flow of electricity with little or no resistance.

1937 John Atanasoff begins work on the first electronic digital computer but neglects to take out a patent. 1952 The UNIVAC 1 successfully predicts a landslide presidential victory for Dwight Eisenhower . 1946 ENIAC. which translates programming code into binary code. the first business computer Grace Murray Hopper develops AO. 1943 Colossus used to crack German codes 1944 Mark 1 developed by engineers at Harvard. In 1947. 1958 1959 the integrated circuit was developed 9 . 1694 Gottfried Leibniz builds a calculating machine that uses binary representations of numbers 1832 Charles Babbage designed the first computer driven by external instructions. but the Pascaline will remain in use until the mid-20th century. 1918 Two inventors build a calculating machine based on the binary numbers 1 and 0. 1857 Sir Charles Wheatstone introduces continuously feeding paper tape that can be used for storing and reading data. 1896 Herman Hollerith founds the Tabulating Machine Company. but it is unreliable. despite experts predictions to the contrary. called RAMAC. 1854 George Boole publishes his thoughts on symbolic logic. he never built it. one of three companies that will later merge and become known as IBM.EVOLUTION OF COMPUTERS 3000 BC An early form of the bead-and-wire abacus is used in Asia 876 BC First recorded use of the symbol for zero occurs in India 1620 Edmund Gunter of England invents the slide rule. which decades later will form the basis of computer science applications. due to lack of funding. 1890 Herman Hollerith designs the punch-card tabulation machine. see below. the first large-scale electronic digital computer was demonstrated at the University of Pennsylvania. allowing the U. 1938 William Hewlett and David Packard form HP in a garage in Palo Alto. They sold 1500 units before taking it off the market in 1969 1956 IBM develops the first hard drive. Census bureau to reduce its data calculation time from ten years to two and a half. ENIAC will be based on his pioneering work. forerunner of the electric calculator 1642 Blaise Pascal designs the first functioning mechanical calculator.S. 1953 IBM manufactures its model 650. 1947 the transistor was invented at Bell Labs 1951 Mauchly and John Eckert build the UNIVAC 1. the first mass-produced computer. 1897 Karl Braun develops the cathode-ray tube. which can perform the work of six accountants. California. initial public reaction is less than overwhelming. however. Konrad Zuse produces the first computer that uses binary code.

Lee Kaichen.000 Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs form Apple Computer Bill Gates and Paul Allen officially found Microsoft.” a moth in a relay contact. Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft) achieves sales of $16.” They sold more that 700. Dbase II is introduced 10 . The first word-processing software. IBM introduces the laser printer. performs calculations faster than computers in Seattle. Doulas Engelbart develops the mouse at the Stanford Research Institute The American Standard Association adopts ASCII as the standard code for data transfer. Apples introduces the Apple II. It cost $18. a Vassar math professor. Digital Research sold a program called CP/M. Digital Equipment Corporation builds the first minicomputer. Bricklin went on to create Trellix Web-publishing program. Texas Instruments introduces the pocket calculator. the first commercial computer equipped with a keyboard and monitor. WordStar is released and quickly becomes the most popular word processing program VisiCalc (Visible calculator) was developed by Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston. and Frankston pioneered home networking via phone lines. a Chinese professor. the Altair 8800. Grace Hopper is also credited with the first “Bug.000 The simplified computer language BASIC is developed It will become the standard language for PC’s The floppy disk is introduced Intel develops the first memory chip. Bob Metcalfe at Xerox develops Ethernet. and they supplied a program called BASIC for some of the computers of that time. the first “killer Application. Apple II will lead the PC market until the IBM PC appears in 1981 Tandy and Commodore release PCs with built-in monitors-no need for a TV hookup. Grace Murray Hopper.000 copies of the $99 program. is developed. New York and Taipei. debuts. but they never patented it. Digital Equipment Corporation develops the PDP-1. the electric Pencil. the first pre-assembled personal computer. First widely marketed personal computer. Naval Reserve) and Charles Phillips invent COBOL. Lotus’s 123 and Excel in turn replaced it. which stores 1024 bits of data. (also a Rear Admiral in the U. Ray Tomlinson invents e-mail.S.1959 1960 1963 1964 1965 1970 1971 1972 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 Using an abacus. Also.

an employee of a small hardware vendor called Seattle Computer. and also introduces the PCjr. Lotus 1-2-3 was introduced. Tim Paterson. Time magazine names the PC “Man of the Year” Apple introduces the $9. It sold for $40. Osborne builds the first PC portable. IBM launches the PC-XT.1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1989 Etc. IBM had tried to get the Digital Research CP/M software. the first computer to use a graphical user interface and a mouse. the first computer with a built-in-hard drive. If anyone else used the program. & QDOS-Quick and Dirty Operating System.995 Lisa. 11 . Microsoft develops Windows 1. The first IBM PC clones are marketed. IBM introduces the IBM PC with an MS-DOS operating system. which used an 8086 16-bit processor. it was called MS-DOS. HP markets the Laser Printer America Online is founded. (It had 2 names. wrote a CP/M-like operating system for that company’s computer. but did not.) Bill Gates bought the software and licensed it to IBM as PC-DOS. while the CP/M sold for $450.0 Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web. 86-DOS.

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