History of Computer
Man’s progress is measured by sophistication of his tools. First, he discovered how to control fire. Eventually, he invented the wheel. He built boats and earned to harness the wind. As soon as commerce developed in the early societies, people recognized the need to calculate and keep track of information. They soon devised simple computing devices and bookkeeping systems to enable them to add, subtract, and simple record transactions. Today, we are witnessing rapid technological changes taking place on a broad and scale. However, many centuries elapsed before technology was sufficiently advanced to develop computers. Without computers, man with technological achievements of the past decade would not have been possible.
Shells, chicken, bones, or any number of objects would have been used but the fact that the word calculate is derived for “calculate”. The Latin word for small stone, suggests that pebbles or heads were arranged to form the famous abacus, the first man-made computing device. Early man also invented numbering systems to enable him to compute with ease for sums greater than 10. Decimal numbering system (Hindu-Arabic influence) uses specific digits representing from 0-9.
Blaise Pascal (French Mathematician) invented an adding machine in 1642. The machine adopted partly the principles of the abacus but did away with the use of the hand to move the beads of counters instead, Pascal used wheels. Pascal’s machine was one of the first mechanical calculating machines.
Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibnitz (1674) made improvements on Pascal’s machine, It was possible to divide and multiply as easy as it could add and subtract.
Joseph Jacquard invented the mechanical loom. With the use of cards punched with holes, it was possible to weave fabrics in a variety of patterns.
Charles Babbage, an English Mathematician foresaw a machine that could perform all mathematical calculations, store value in its memory, and perform logical comparisons among values and called it “Analytical Engine”. Babbage analytical engine was never built due to the absence of electronics.
Herman Hollerith working with Census Bureau in 1890 adopted the punched card concept of Jacquard. Census data were translated into a series of holes in a punched card to represent the digits and the letters of the alphabet. It was then passed through a machine with a series of holes in the punched cards. These different combinations of off/on situations were recorded by the machine and represented a way of tabulating the result of the census. The code developed by Hollerith is still being used today. This is the code on the computer punched cards or paper tapes of telefax machines. It is called the Hollerith code, a fitting tribute to the man who provided the impetus to modern data processing.
Howard Aiken of Harvard thought the technology in 1937 was then right to implement Babbage’s concept. With the combined efforts of his colleagues in Harvard and IBM, the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (MARK I) was finished in 1944. MARK I could perform division, multiplication, addition and subtraction in a specified sequence determined by the setting of the switches. It the typed its answers on a typewriter connected to it or on punched cards after a few seconds and contained more than 3,000 electromechanical relays and weighted 5 tons.
John P. Eckert and John W. Mauchly (University of Pennsylvania) built a machine using electronics to do rapid calculations of large quantities of information. It should be remembered that about this time the US was involved in WW II. In the war efforts, they had to use cannons. For cannons to be effective, these should be pointed correctly to hit their targets. This involved using a table of trajectory to ensure the accuracy of the shots. Weather affected strategic and tactical plans of the military. Meteorological...
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