Computer History and Development

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Computer History and Development

Delaware Technical & Community College

Abstract

As centuries past knowledge is increased and with knowledge more opportunities are available. There has been five generation of computers each generation important to pave the way for the next generation. Computers started out for wars and big business but with stunning inventions that have been made, computers are smaller than ever and accessible to the general public. Furthermore, availability to such technology has sparked interest in the next step of computer usage.

Computer History and Development

The dictionary defines a computer as an electronic device for storing and processing data, typically in binary form, according to instructions given to it in a variable program. Primarily created to compute; however, modern day computers do much more today: supermarket scanners calculate consumers groceries bill, while keeping track of store inventory; computerized telephone switching centers play traffic cop to millions of calls, keeping lines of communication untangled; and automatic teller machines let’s banking transactions to be conducted from virtually anywhere in the world. Technology has been around for a centuries; growing rapidly year by year. One of the most important items Technology has produced is computers. The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer also known as ENIAC was regarded as the first general purpose electronic computer. What came before the ENIAC; well, there is the abacas which some consider the first computer. Created over 5000 years ago in Asia and is still in use today. Using a system of sliding beads arranged on a rack, users are allowed to make computations. In early times, the abaca was used to keep trading transactions; until, this became obsolete with the introduction of pencil and paper. Within the next twelve centuries emerged a significant advancement in computer technology. The year was 1642, when Blaise Pascal, the 18 year-old son of a French tax collector, invented the numerical wheel calculator, also known as the “Pascaline.” Pascaline was a brass rectangular box that used eight movable dials to add sums up to eight figures long. This device was great and became popular in Europe; the only drawback was the limits to addition (Pascal's calculator, 2010, para. 3). Another event that epitomizes the Pascaline machine came from an inventor by the name of Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz; a German mathematician and philosopher in the 1600’s. Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz added to Pascline by creating a machine that could also multiply. Like its predecessor, Leibniz's mechanical multiplier worked by a system of gears and dials. Original notes and drawings from the Pascline machine were used to help refine his machine. The core of the machine was its stepped-drum gear design. However, mechanical calculators did not gain widespread use until the early 1800’s. Shortly after, a Frenchman, Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar invented a machine that could perform the four basic arithmetic functions. The arithometer, Colmar's mechanical calculator, presented a more practical approach to computing because it could add, subtract, multiply and divide. The arithometer was widely used up until the First World War. Although later inventors refined Colmar's calculator, together with fellow inventors Pascal and Leibniz, he helped define the age of mechanical computation. The real beginnings of computers that we use today came in the late 1700’s, thanks to Charles Babbage with the invention of the Analytical Engine. Babbage machine was a steam powered machine; although, it was never constructed it outlined basic elements of a modern general computer. Several more inventors added to machines that were out in the late 1800’s to help pave the way for the first generation of computers (1945-1956) (LaMorte, C & Lilly J, 2010, para. 4). Wars had a great deal in the advancement...
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