History Of Computers

This essay History Of Computers has a total of 2530 words and 13 pages.


History Of Computers

Only once in a lifetime will a new invention come about to touch every aspect of
our lives. Such devices changed the way we manage, work, and live. A machine
that has done all this and more now exists in nearly every business in the

United States. This incredible invention is the computer. The electronic
computer has been around for over a half-century, but its ancestors have been
around for 2000 years. However, only in the last 40 years has the computer
changed American management to it's greatest extent. From the first wooden
abacus to the latest high-speed microprocessor, the computer has changed nearly
every aspect of management, and our lives for the better. The very earliest
existence of the modern day computer's ancestor is the abacus. These date back
to almost 2000 years ago (Dolotta, 1985). It is simply a wooden rack holding
parallel wires on which beads are strung. When these beads are moved along the
wire according to programming rules that the user must memorize. All ordinary
arithmetic operations can be performed on the abacus. This was one of the first
management tools used. The next innovation in computers took place in 1694 when

Blaise Pascal invented the first digital calculating machine. It could only add
numbers and they had to be entered by turning dials. It was designed to help

Pascal's father, who was a tax collector, manage the town's taxes (Beer, 1966).

In the early 1800s, a mathematics professor named Charles Babbage designed an
automatic calculation machine (Dolotta, 1985). It was steam powered and could
store up to 1000 50-digit numbers. Built in to his machine were operations that
included everything a modern general-purpose computer would need. It was
programmed by and stored data on cards with holes punched in them, appropriately
called punch cards. This machine was extremely useful to managers that delt with
large volumes of good. With Babbage's machine, managers could more easily
calculate the large numbers accumulated by inventories. The only problem was
that there was only one of these machines built, thus making it difficult for
all managers to use (Beer, 1966). After Babbage, people began to lose interest
in computers. However, between 1850 and 1900 there were great advances in
mathematics and physics that began to rekindle the interest. Many of these new
advances involved complex calculations and formulas that were very time
consuming for human calculation. The first major use for a computer in the U.S.
was during the 1890 census. Two men, Herman Hollerith and James Powers,
developed a new punched-card system that could automatically read information on
cards without human (Dolotta, 1985). Since the population of the U.S. was
increasing so fast, the computer was an essential tool for managers in
tabulating the totals (Hazewindus,1988). These advantages were noted by
commercial industries and soon led to the development of improved punch-card
business-machine systems by International Business Machines, Remington-Rand,

Burroughs, and other corporations (Chposky, 1988). By modern standards the
punched-card machines were slow, typically processing from 50 to 250 cards per
minute, with each card holding up to 80 digits. At the time, however, punched
cards were an enormous step forward; they provided a means of input, output, and
memory storage on a massive scale. For more than 50 years following their first
use, punched-card machines did the bulk of the world's business computing
(Jacobs, 1975). By the late 1930s punched-card machine techniques had become so
well established and reliable that Howard Hathaway Aiken, in collaboration with
engineers at IBM, undertook construction of a large automatic digital computer
based on standard IBM electromechanical parts (Chposky, 1988). Aiken's machine,
called the Harvard Mark I, handled 23-digit numbers and could perform all four
arithmetic operations (Dolotta, 1985). Also, it had special built-in programs to
handled logarithms and trigonometric functions. The Mark I was controlled from
prepunched paper tape. Output was by card punch and electric typewriter. It was
slow, requiring 3 to 5 seconds for a multiplication, but it was fully automatic
and could complete long computations without human intervention. The outbreak of

World War II produced a desperate need for computing capability, especially for
the military (Dolotta, 1985). New weapons systems were produced which needed
trajectory tables and other essential data. In 1942, John P. Eckert, John W.

Mauchley, and their associates at the University of Pennsylvania decided to
build a high-speed electronic computer to do the job. This machine became known
as ENIAC, for Electrical Numerical Integrator And Calculator (Chposky, 1988). It
could multiply two numbers at the rate of 300 products per second, by finding
the value of each product from a multiplication table stored in its

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Topics Related to History Of Computers

Vacuum tube computers, Punched card, Computer, ENIAC, Punched card input/output, UNIVAC, Personal computer, Operating system, John Mauchly, Unit record equipment

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