Past, Present, and Future of Computers

Topics: World War II, Computer, ENIAC Pages: 5 (1770 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Past, Present, and Future of Computers

Imagine being able to do almost anything right from your own living room. You could order a pizza, watch cartoons, or play video games with people from around the entire world. All are possible today with your computer. The beginnings of the computer started off in a rather unique way. It was first used to produce intricate designs with silk, a task far to long a tedious for a human to do constantly. It's really unbelievable how the computers changed from that to what they are now. Today, computers are completely astounding. The possibilities are endless. Who knows where they will take us in the years ahead. The computer is the most influential piece of equipment that has ever been invented.

The beginnings
of the computer are actually kind of strange. It started in the 1800's when a man named Charles Babbage wanted to make a calculating machine. He created a machine that would calculate logarithms on a system of constant difference and record the results on a metal plate. The machine was aptly named the Difference Engine. Within ten years, the Analytical Engine was produced. This machine could perform several tasks. These tasks would be givin to the machine and could figure out values of almost any algebraic equation. Soon, a silk weaver wanted to make very intricate designs. The designs were stored on punch-cards which could be fed into the loom in order to produce the designs requested. This is an odd beginning for the most powerful invention in the world.

In the 1930's, a man named Konrad Zuse started to make his own type of computer. Out of his works, he made several good advances in the world of computing. First, he developed the binary coding system. This was a base two system which allowed computers to read information with either a 1 or a 0. This is the same as an on or and off. The on or off functions could be created through switches. These switches were utilized with vacuum tubes. The functions could then be relayed as fast as electrons jumping between plates. This was all during the time of the Second World War and further advancements were made in the area of cryptology. Computer advancements were needed in order for the Allied Coding Center in London to decode encrypted Nazi messages. Speed was of the essence, so scientists developed the first fully valve driven computer. Before this, computers only had a number of valves, none were fully driven by them because of the complexity and difficulty of producing it. Despite the odds, several Cambridge professors accomplished the mammoth task. Once it was built, the computer could decode the encrypted messages in enough time to be of use, and was an important factor in the end of World War II. The war also provided advancements in the United States as well. The trajectory of artillery shells was a complex process that took a lot of time to

compute on the field. A new, more powerful computer was in dire need. Working with the Moore School of Electrical Engineering, the Ballistics Research Laboratory created the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. The ENIAC could compute things a thousand times faster than any machine built before it. Even though it was not completed until 1946 and was not any help during the war, it provided another launching pad for scientists and inventors of the near future. The only problem with the ENIAC was that it was a long a tedious process to program it. What was needed was a computation device that could store simple ³programs² into it's memory for call later. The Electronic Discrete Variable Computer was the next in line. A young man named John von Neumann had the original plan for memory. His only problem was where and how could the instructions be stored for later use. Several ideas were pursued, but the one found most effective at the time was magnetic tape. Sets of instructions could be stored on the tapes and could be...
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