The History of Computers

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The History of Computers

In 1964, no one, with the exception of those with-in the field of study, had ever heard of a computer. Now, only forty years later, almost every home in America is equipped with at least one computer. A computer is defined as a device that accepts information, in the form of digital data, and manipulates it for some result based on a program on how data is to be processed. The first computer was not as fast or efficient as the computers used today, however they are all based on the first model.

“Since the invention of numbers, humanity has tried to make instruments to help in performing calculations” (Moreau 4). Before 3000 B.C. there were tablets used for calculating. The Ancient Chinese used a bead frame for counting. Although rather innovative, neither of these calculating devices was automatic. In the early 19th century, a British astronomer and mathematician had an idea that would change the history of computing forever. His name was Charles Babbage and he described a machine that would have the ability to do a variety of calculations. Because the mechanical-engineering technology of that time period was not reliable or fast enough, he was unable to produce his dream. Babbage’s idea was based on the mathematical insights of George Boole, who first stated the principles of logic used in today’s digital computers (Computer 1). Also, Ada Lovelace, Babbage’s assistant, is known as the first programmer because she introduced program loops and subroutines.

The development of electronics led to the first computers. Once electromechanical technology entered the world, calculators began being produced. The first electronic calculator was built by IBM. This is known as the IBM 603, which was created by Byron E. Phelps. Building upon this model, steps were taken towards the first computer. “The IBM Selective Sequence-Controlled Electronic Calculator (SSEC) was created between the years 1945 and 1948 by a group led by Frank Hamilton, one of the engineers who worked on the building of the Harvard-IBM machine” (Moreau 39). Disregarding calculators, the first real useable computer began with the vacuum tube.

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