The History of Computers

Topics: Computer, Slide rule, Analog computer Pages: 5 (1731 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The History of Computers

Whether you know it or not you depend on computers for almost every thing you do in modern day life. From the second you get up in the morning to the second you go to sleep computer are tied into what you do and use in some way. It is tied in to you life in the most obvious and obscure ways. Take for example you wake up in the morning usually to a digital alarm clock. You start you car it uses computers the second you turn the key (General Motors is the largest buyers of computer components in the world). You pick up the phone it uses computers. No mater how hard you try you can get away from them you can't. It is inevitable.

Many people think of computers as a new invention, and in reality it is very old. It is about 2000 years old .1 The first computer was the abacus. This invention was constructed of wood, two wires, and beads. It was a wooden rack with the two wires strung across it horizontally and the beads were strung across the wires. This was used for normal arithmetic uses. These type of computers are considered analog computers. Another analog computer was the circular slide rule. This was invented in 1621 by William Oughtred who was an English mathematician. This slid ruler was a mechanical device made of two rules, one sliding inside the other, and marked with many number scales. This slide ruler could do such calculations as division, multiplication, roots, and logarithms.

Soon after came some more advanced computers. In 1642 came Blaise Pascal's computer, the Pascaline. It was considered to be the first automatic calculator. It consisted of gears and interlocking cogs. It was so that you entered the numbers with dials. It was originally made for his father, a tax collector.2 Then he went on to build 50 more of these Pascaline's, but clerks would not uses them.3 They did this in fear that they would loose their jobs.4

Soon after there were many similar inventions. There was the Leibniz wheel that was invented by Gottfried Leibniz. It got its name because of the way it was designed with a cylinder with stepped teeth. 5 This did the same functions of the other computers of its time.

Computers, such as the Leibniz wheel and the Pascaline, were not used widely until the invention made by Thomas of Colmar (A.K.A Charles Xavier Thomas).6 It was the first successful mechanical calculator that could do all the normal arithmetic functions. This type of calculator was improved by many other inventors so it could do a number of many other things by 1890. The improvements were they could collect partial results, a memory function (could store information), and output information to a printer. These improvement were made for commercial uses mainly, and also required manual installation.

Around 1812 in Cambridge, England, new advancements in computers was made by Charles Babbage. His idea was that long calculations could be done in a series of steps the were repeated over many times.7 Ten years later in 1822 he had a working model and in 1823 he had fabrication of his invention. He had called his invention the Difference Engine.

In 1833 he had stopped working on his Difference Engine because he had another idea. It was to Build a Analytical Engine. This would have been a the first digital computer that would be full program controlled. His invention was to do all the general- purposes of modern computers. This computer was to use punch cards for storage, steam power, and operated by one person.8 This computer was never finished for many reasons. Some of the reasons were not having precision mechanics and could solve problems not needed to be solved at that time.9 After Babbage's computer people lost interest in this type of inventions.10 Eventually inventions afterwards would cause a demand for calculations capability that computers like Babbage's would capable of doing.

In 1890 an new era of business computing had evolved. This was a development in punch card use to...
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