Use of Computers

Topics: Computer, Personal computer, Microprocessor Pages: 21 (5777 words) Published: July 31, 2013
HISTORY AND APPLICATIONS OF COMPUTERS

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INTRODUCTION

When more than one thing is needed to work together before an action can take place, we say we have a system. The computer needs several things before it can be used to solve problems. Therefore, we say the computer is a system. We may have systems around us even in our body.

How we eat or what happens to the food we eat is a system. This is called the Digestive System. We need mouth, tongue, teeth and stomach for us to make good use of the food we eat. In explanation of this; food is put in the mouth as INPUT; the food is digested and changed into useful things that our body needs; this is called PROCESSING, the undigested food from the body in the form of waste passed out; this is called OUTPUT.

In the same way, relating this to computer, data is given to computer as INPUT, computer acts on the input by performing some operations on them; this called PROCESSING, the computer produces something after processing; this is called OUTPUT.

These three stages of input, process and output are called COMPUTING and it gives the reason for referring to the computation as an I-P-O system. (Gbadeyan Et.al 2007)

6.1|WHAT IS A COMPUTER?|

A computer is an electronic device which accepts and processes data by following a set of instructions (PROGRAM) to produce a result (INFORMATION). Since the ultimate aim of a computer is to produce information, the art of computing is often referred to as information processing. (Ayo, 1994)

6.2|HISTORY OF COMPUTERS|

It is difficult to identify any one device as the earliest computer, partly because the term "computer" has been subject to varying interpretations over time. Originally, the term "computer" referred to a person who performed numerical calculations (a human computer), often with the aid of a mechanical calculating device.

The history of the modern computer begins with two separate technologies - that of automated calculation and that of programmability. Examples of early mechanical calculating devices included the abacus, the slide rule and the Antikythera mechanism (which dates from about 150-100 BC). The hero of Alexandria (c. 10-70 AD) built a mechanical theater which performed a play lasting 10 minutes and was operated by a complex system of ropes and drums that might be considered to be a means of deciding which parts of the mechanism performed which actions and when. This is the essence of programmability.

The "castle clock", an astronomical clock invented by Al-Jazari in 1206, is considered to be the earliest programmable analog computer. It displayed the zodiac, the solar and lunar orbits, a crescent moon-shaped pointer traveling across a gateway causing automatic doors to open every hour, and five robotic musicians that played music when struck by levers operated by a camshaft attached to a water wheel. The length of day and night could be re-programmed every day in order to account for the changing lengths of day and night throughout the year.

end of the middle Ages saw a re-invigoration of European mathematics and engineering, and Wilhelm Schickard's 1623 device was the first of a number of mechanical calculators constructed by European engineers. However, none of those devices fit the modern definition of a computer because they could not be programmed.

In 1801, Joseph Marie Jacquard made an improvement to the textile loom that used a series of punched paper cards as a template to allow his loom to weave intricate patterns automatically. The resulting Jacquard loom was an important step in the development of computers because the use of punched cards to define woven patterns can be viewed as an early, albeit limited, form of programmability.

It was the fusion of automatic calculation with programmability that produced the first recognizable computers. In 1837, Charles Babbage was the first to conceptualize...
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