The idea of computing began at the start of civilization. The computer's long history makes it, " one of the most interesting and important machines ever invented" (Anonymous). Computers are simply complex counting devices. The abacus was an ancient computer which used beads to solve math problems. The abacus was strictly manual and the desire for an automated machine grew. One of the earliest automated machines was invented in the nineteenth century when French weaver, Joseph Jacquard, created a loom that could be programmed. Large hole punched cards were used by the loom to create geometric patterns. Aside from producing beautiful patterns, the punched cards were later modified to become the main form of computer input. The system of punch cards led to the first successful semi-automated computer, a punch-card tabulating machine invented during the 1880s by American Herman Hollerith. It was used to tabulate the results of the U.S. census. Each punch card contained the data of each individual. Operators fed the countless cards into the computer. When the spring-mounted nails of the computer passed through the holes of the punch-card, an electric circuit was completed. As seen in diagram C, the results of each card were displayed on rows of dials.... [continues]
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