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Early uses of technology, though somewhat primitive, were the foundations for more complex inventions. Computers became more widespread as people realized the value of digital computing. And as the race for the fastest computer intensified, smaller and faster computers and computer parts emerged. For these reasons, the computer is one of the best inventions society has collaborated on, and the product of that collaboration is one of the most important and influential components of our daily lives. Major and minor technological advances from 1100 BC to 1930 paved the way for computers as we know them presently. The earliest known form of a calculating device was the abacus. These bead-utilizing devices date back as early as 1100 BC, and are still used today. Some people consider these devices as digital calculators because an individual bead was either in one position or another, representing 1 and 0 in the binary system. The next significant advancement came in 1623, when a German astronomer and mathematician by the name of Wilhelm Schickard built what is considered the first mechanical calculator. This device was described in a letter to Schickard’s friend, Johannes Kepler, but, “…in 1624 he [Schickard] wrote again to explain that a machine he had commissioned to be built for Kepler was, apparently along with the prototype, destroyed in a fire.” Modern engineers were able to reconstruct Schickard’s “calculating clock”, as he called it, based on those letters he sent to Kepler. Almost 200 years later, in 1804-5, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, a French weaver, produced the Jacquard loom. The loom operated by “interpreting” punched cards, which controlled which threads to weave into a certain pattern. Today, the Jacquard loom is considered... ... middle of paper ... ...y released the world’s first successful, mass-produced microcomputer, the PDP-8. At a cost of $18,000, it cost a fifth of a small IBM 360 mainframe. Another revolutionary breakthrough came in 1971, when Intel released the world’s first microprocessor: the Intel 4004. The number 4,004 represented the number of transistors the chip replaced. This silicon chip was widely used in calculators. On the cover of the January 1971 edition of Popular Electronics, a computer kit called the Altair 8800 was featured. The computer ran on an Intel 8080 chip, an improved version of the 4004, and had a mere 256 bytes of memory, expandable to 64 kilobytes. “Within weeks of the computer’s debut, customers inundated the manufacturing company, MITS, with orders.” (web source) The new, smaller computers would pave the way for Personal Computers, or PCs, as we know them in the 21st century.

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