history of computers (2023)

history of computers (1)Early man relied on counting on his fingers and toes (which, by the way, is the foundation of our base-10 number system). He also used sticks and stones as markers. Later, notched sticks and knotted cords were used for counting. Eventually came symbols written on skins, parchment, and later on paper. Man invents the concept of number and then invents devices to help him keep up with the number of his possessions.
Roman Empire
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The ancient Romans developed an abacus, the first "machine" for calculating. Although it predates the Chinese abacus, we don't know if it was the ancestor of that abacus. Counters in the bottom groove are 1 x 10n, which in the top groove are 5 x 10n

Industrial Age - 1600s
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John Napier, a Scottish nobleman and politician, devoted much of his free time to the study of mathematics. He was particularly interested in developing ways to support computations. His greatest contribution was the invention of the logarithm. He wrote logarithmic measurements on a set of 10 wooden sticks, allowing him to perform multiplication and division by lining up numbers on the sticks. These became known as Napier's bones.
1621 - The slide rulehistory of computers (5)

Napier invented logarithms, Edmund Gunter invented the logarithmic scales (lines etched on metal or wood), but it was William Oughtred in England who invented the sliderrule. Using the concept of Napier's bones, he wrote logarithms on strips of wood and invented the calculating machine, which was used until the mid-1970s when calculators and microcomputers first appeared.

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1642 - Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
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Blaise Pascal, a French mathematical genius, invented a machine at the age of 19 which he gave his name toPascalinethat could add and subtract to help his father, who was also a mathematician. Pascal's machine consisted of a series of gears, each with 10 teeth, representing the numbers 0 through 9. As each gear made one revolution, it disengaged the next gear, ramping up to 1/10th of a revolution. This principle remained the basis of all mechanical adding machines for centuries after his death. The Pascal programming language was named in his honor.
1673 - Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716)

history of computers (9)history of computers (10)Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz invented differential and integral calculus independently of Sir Isaac Newton, who is usually given sole credit. He invented a calculating machine known asThe wheel of Leibnizor thestep calculator.It could add and subtract like Pascal's machine, but it could also multiply and divide. This was done by repeated addition or subtraction, as mechanical adding machines did in the mid to late 20th century. Leibniz also invented something essential for modern computersbinary arithmetic.

1725 - The Bouchon loom
history of computers (11)Basile Bouchon, the son of an organ builder, worked in the textile industry. At that time, fabrics with very elaborately woven patterns were all the rage. However, to weave a complex pattern required somewhat complicated manipulations of the threads in a loom, which often became tangled, snapped, or slipped. Bouchon observed the rolls of paper with punched holes that his father made to program his game organs and adapted the idea to "program" a loom. The paper ran over a section of the loom and where the holes appeared certain threads were lifted. As a result, the pattern could be repeatedly woven. This was the first paper punched, stored program. Unfortunately, the paper is torn and was difficult to advance. So Bouchon's loom never really caught on and eventually ended up in the back room collecting dust.

1728 - Falcon loom
In 1728, Jean-Batist Falçon replaced Bouchon's loom paper roll with a set of punched cardboard cards. This was much more durable, but the deck tended to get shuffled and constantly changing cards was tedious. So Falçon's loom ended up next to Bouchon's loom and got dusty.
1745 - Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834)
history of computers (12)history of computers (13)It took inventor Joseph M. Jacquard to bring together Bouchon's idea of ​​a continuous die-cut roll and Falcon's ideas of durable die-cut cards to create a truly workable programmable loom. The weaving operations were controlled by punch cards tied in a long loop. And you can add as many cards as you like. Each time a thread was woven in, the roll was clicked one card further. The results revolutionized the weaving industry and made Jacquard a lot of money. This idea of ​​punched data storage was later adapted for computer data entry.
1822 Charles Babbage (1791-1871) and Ada Augusta, Countess of Lovelace

history of computers (14)history of computers (15)Charles Babbage is considered the father of the modern computer (although none of his computers worked or were even fully built). He first designed blueprints, which he called thatAutomatic difference engine. It was designed to help create mathematical tables for navigation. Unfortunately, the technical limitations of the time made it impossible to build the computer. His next project was much more ambitious.

history of computers (16)As a professor of mathematics at Cambridge University (where Stephen Hawkin is now), a position he never actually held, he proposed building what he called a machineAnalytical engine. It should have a punch card input, a storage unit (calledbusiness), an arithmetic unit (called themill), automatic printout, sequential program control and a precision of 20 decimal places. In fact, he had devised a plan for a computer that was 100 years ahead of its time. Unfortunately it was never completed. It had to wait for manufacturing technology to catch up with its ideas.

During a nine-month period in 1842-1843, Ada Lovelace translated Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea's memoirs on Charles Babbage's Analytic Engine. In her translation, she included a series of notes that specified in detail a method for calculating the Bernoulli numbers with the engine. Historians now recognize this as the world's first computer program and honor her as the first female programmer. Too bad she named such a poorly received programming language after her.

1880s Herman Hollerith (1860-1929)
history of computers (17)history of computers (18)The computer trail leads us next to the U.S. of all places. Bureau of Census. In 1880, conducting the US census proved to be a monumental task. When it was finished, it was almost time to start over for the 1890 census. To try to solve this problem, the Census Bureau hired Dr. Herman Hollerith. In 1887, using Jacquard's idea of ​​punched card data storage, Hollerith developed a punched card tabulator system that allowed census takers to record all the information they needed on punched cards, which were then placed in a special tabulating machine with a series of counters. When a lever was pulled, a series of pins fell onto the card. Where there was a hole, the pin went through the card and touched a tiny puddle of mercury underneath, knocking out one of the counters by one. With Hollerith's machine, the 1890 census was completed in 1/8 the time. And they checked the count twice.

After the census, Hollerith turned to commercial use of his tabulating machines and founded the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896, which later merged with other companies to form IBM. His contribution to the computer, then, is the use of punch card data storage. Incidentally, the punch cards in computers were the same size as those in Hollerith's machine. And Hollerith chose the size he chose because that was the same size as the $1 bill at the time and so he could find many boxes that were just the right size for the cards.

1939-1942 Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff (1903-1995) und Clifford Berry (1918-1963)

history of computers (19)history of computers (20)dr John Vincent Atanasoff and his research assistant Clifford Barry built the first truly electronic computer, called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer or ABC. Atanasoff said the idea came to him while sitting in a small roadside tavern in Illinois. This computer used a circuit with 45 vacuum tubes to do the calculations and capacitors for storage. This was also the first computer to use binary mathematics.

1943 Colossus I

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The first truly successful electronic computer was built at Bletchley Park, England. It was capable of only one function, that of code-breaking during WWII. It could not be reprogrammed.

1944 Mark I - Howard Aiken (1900-1973) und Grace Hopper (1906-1992)

history of computers (22)history of computers (23)In 1944, Dr. Howard Aiken of Harvard constructed the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, popularly known as the Mark I. It contained over 3000 mechanical relays and was the first electromechanical computer capable of making logical decisionsif x==3 then do thatnot howIf it's raining outside, I have to take an umbrella with me.It could do an addition in 3/10 seconds. Compare that today to something on the order of a few nanoseconds (billionths of a second).

The important contribution of this machine was that it was programmed with punched tape and the instructions could be changed. In many ways, Mark I was the realization of Babbage's dream.

history of computers (24)history of computers (25)One of the main programmers for Mark I was Grace Hopper. One day the Mark I malfunctioned and didn't read its paper tape entry properly. Ms. Hopper checked the reader and found a dead moth in the mechanism, its wings blocking the reading of the holes in the paper tape. She removed the moth, taped it in her log, and noted...Relay #70 Panel F (moth) in the relay. First actual error case found.
she haddebuggtthe program, and while the wordInsectused to describe defects since at least 1889, she is credited with coining the wordDebuggingto describe the work to fix bugs.

It was Howard Aiken who made the rather short-sighted comment on this in 1947The computer is a wonderful machine, but I can see that six such machines would suffice to meet all the computing needs of the entire United States.

1946 ENIAC - J. Prosper Eckert (1919-1995) and John W. Mauchly (1907-1980)

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The first fully electronic computer was theElectrical numerical integrator and calculator,known asENIAC. It was designed by J. Prosper Eckert and John W. Mauchly of the Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. ENIAC was the first general purpose electronic computer, although it was very difficult to reprogram. It was primarily used for computing aircraft courses, shell trajectories, and code cracking during World War II.

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ENIAC occupied a 20 x 40 foot space and used 18,000 vacuum tubes. ENIAC could never be switched off either. If so, too many tubes have burned out when you turn it back on. It had a very limited memory capacity and was programmed by jumper wires plugged into a large circuit board.

1948 There Transistor

history of computers (30)history of computers (31)In 1948 an event occurred that would forever change the course of computers and electronics. The three scientists John Bordeen (1908-1991) (left), Waltar Brattain (1902-1987) (right) and William Shockly (1910-1989) (seated) worked at Bell Labs and invented the transistor.

The transition from tube circuits to transistor circuits occurred between 1956 and 1959. With that came the second generation of computers based on transistors. The first generation were mechanical computers and tube computers.


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The first practical electronic computer was built by Eckert and Mauchly (of ENIAC fame) and was known asUNIVAC(Universal automatic computer). The first UNIVAC was used by the Bureau of Census. The unique feature of the UNIVAC was that it was notuniqueComputer. It was mass-produced.

1954 IBM 650
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In 1954, the first business electronic computer was installed at the General Electric Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky. The IBM 650 was also commissioned in Boston that year. This comparatively inexpensive computer gave IBM the lead in the computer market. Over 1000 650 were sold.

1957-59 IBM 704

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From 1957-1959 the IBM 704 computer appeared, for which the Fortran language was developed. At that time, the state of the art in computers allowed 1 component per chip, i.e. individual transistors.

1958 - 1962 programming languages

From 1958-1962 many programming languages ​​were developed.

BASIC(BBeginnerAll purposeSsymbolicIInstructionsCOde)

1964 IBM-System/360
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1964 saw the beginning of the third generation of computers with the introduction of the IBM System/360. Thanks to the newhybridcircuits (the nasty looking orange thing on the board on the right), the state of the art in computer technology allowed 10 components per chip.

1965 - PDP-8
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In 1965, the first integrated circuit computer appeared, the PDP-8 from Digital Equipment Corporation. (PDP stands for Programmable Data Processor) After that, the real revolution in the cost and size of computers began.

1970 - Integrated Circuits
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In the early 1970's the state of the art in computer technology allowed 1000 components per chip. To get an idea of ​​how much the size of electronic components had shrunk by this point, look at the image to the right. The woman peers through a microscope at an integrated circuit with 16K RAM memory. ThatStandShe has her microscopy on a 16K vacuum tube memory circuit from about 20 years ago.

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Intel Corporation produced the first microprocessor chip, which was a 4-bit chip. Today's chips are 64-bit. Measuring about 1/16 x 1/8 inch, this chip contained 250 transistors and had all the processing power of ENIAC. It fitted early '60s IBM computers that had a CPU the size of an office desk.

1975 Altair 8800
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The January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics contained an article, the first, describing the Altair 8800, the first low-cost microprocessor computer to become commercially available.

Late 1970s to early 1980s The microcomputer explosion
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During this time, many companies that manufactured a variety of products came and wentmicrocomputer(They were summonedMicroto distinguish them from themainframewhat some people refer to asrealcomputers). There was the Radio Shack TRS-80, the Commodore 64, the Atari, but...

1977 - The Apple II
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The most successful of the early microcomputers was the Apple II, designed and built by Steve Wozniak. Together with their computer genius and enterprising friend Steve Jobs, they founded Apple Computer in 1977 in Woz's garage. Less than three years later, the company earned over $100 million. Not bad for a couple of college dropouts.

clickhereto see an interesting article from March 2016
Smithsonian Magazine issue about Woz and the Apple I.

history of computers (48)In 1981 IBM produced its first microcomputer. Then the clones started to appear. This microcomputer explosion lived up to their sloganComputers to millions for millions.Compared to ENIAC, early 80's microcomputers:
Were 20 times faster (Apple II ran at a speed of ¼ megahertz).
Had up to 16 times larger storage capacity (Apple had 64K).
Were a thousand times more reliable.
Consumed the power of a lightbulb instead of a locomotive.
Were 1/30,000 the size.
Costs 1/10,000 as much in comparable dollars
(An Apple II with a full 64K of RAM was $1200 in 1979.
Equivalent to about $8,000 to $10,000 in today's dollars)

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In 1984 the Macintosh was introduced. This was the first mass-produced, commercially available computer with a graphical user interface. In 1989 Windows 1.0 was introduced for the PC. It wassomehowMac-like, but significantly inferior. Macintosh owners sarcastically referred to it asAGAM-84Almost as good as Macintosh 84.

Compared to ENIAC, microcomputers of the 90's:
Were 36,000 times faster(450 megahertz was the average speed)
Had a storage capacity 1000 to 5000 times larger(average was between 4 and 20 megabytes)
Were 1/30,000 the size
Costs 1/30,000 as much in comparable dollars(A PC was still around $1500, equivalent to around $2500 in 2008)

early 2000s
Compared to ENIAC, early 2000s microcomputers:
Are 180,000 times faster(2.5+ gigahertz is the average speed)
Have 25,000 times the storage capacity(average 1+ gigabytes of RAM)
Are 1/30,000 the size
Costs 1/60,000 as much in comparable dollars(A PC can cost anywhere from $700 to $1500)
data storage
Data storage has grown in capacity and shrunk in size as dramatically as computers. Today, a single data DVD holds around 4.8 gigabytes. It would take 90,000,000 punch cards to store the same amount of data. And there is talk of a new High Density Video Disk (HVD) that will be able to store fifty times the amount of data. That's more than 240 gigabytes.

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How much data is that?
8 Bit = 1 Byte
1024 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte
1024 K = 1 Megabyte = 1.048.576 Byte
1024 MB = 1 Gigabyte = 10.73.741.824 Byte
1024 GB = 1 Terabyte = 1.099.511.627.776 Byte
1024 Tb = 1 Petabyte = 1.125.899.906.842.624 Bytes
1024 Pb = 1 Exabyte = 1.152.921.504.606.846.976 Byte
1024 Eb = 1 Zettabyte = 1,180,591,620,717,411,303,424 Bytes
1024 Zb = 1 Yottabyte = 1.208.925.819.614.629.174.706.176 Byte
In comparison, 1 KB is roughly the amount of space needed to store a single-spaced typed page.
history of computers (52)


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