Wednesday, March 26, 2014

History of computers

Ok, so here I will reveal the history of computers. This is not the complete history nor do I attest to know everything about computers. If you have more information that you would like added please comment. In all honesty the computer started thousands of years ago with the invention of the abacus. It was a simple wooden instrument used for mathematics. It is akin to our modern day calculators in that it only had one purpose and that was to calculate mathematical equations, though by no means was it as fast as the calculators we use today.

Zuse Z1
As far as modern day computers go there are three generations that make up their history. The first generation was from the years of 1936-1946. In 1936 construction engineer Konrad Zuse created a series of automatic calculators to aid in his lengthy engineering calculations. This first machine he dubbed the Z1, which he realized required a control, a memory, and a calculator for the arithmetic.  In 1937  Dr. John V. Atanasoff and student Clifford Berry created the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC machine).  1944 brought around the creation of the Mark series machines created by Howard Aiken and Grace Hopper at Harvard University. This devices purpose was for the US Navy for gunnery and ballistic calculations. This computer was controlled by pre-punched paper tape, and could carry out addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and it could reference previous results. The data was stored and counted mechanically using 3000 decimal storage wheels, 1400 rotary dial switches, and over 500 miles of wire. All output was displayed on an electric typewriter, by today’s standards this was slow, it required 3 to 5 seconds for a multiplication operation. In 1946 a year after WWII ended ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was created by John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly. Originally ENIAC was created for use during WWII to assist in the calculation of the trajectory of ballistics. It weighed 30 Tons, had 40 individual 8Ft tall racks and 18,000 vacuum tubes that were used for processing. This behemoth was housed in the University of Pennsylvania, and when it was first turned on it dimmed the lights in area of Philadelphia. It only had a single task, and it did not have an OS (operating system).

The second generation spanned 1947 to 1962. During this time they began to use transistors vice Vacuum tubes, which allowed for the machines to be smaller and have more processing power. In 1951 the first computer meant for Commercial use was introduced as the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), produced by the same team that gave us ENIAC. The US Census Bureau was the first to use this machine for tracking the sudden explosion of population fondly referred to as the Baby Boom. In 1953 International Business Machine (IBM) 650 and 700 series computers were introduce to the world. 1954 brought around the beast of a machine named SAGE. It was a giant computerized air defense system, SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) was designed for the Air Force in order to track radar data in real time. It used such technological advances such as modems and graphical displays. It weighed roughly 300 Tons and was housed on one floor of a concrete block house. At this time there were over 100 different computer programming languages; computers now had memory and an OS. Tape Drives and Disks were used as media Storage, and Printers were now being used for physical output.

Good old Apple II E
The Third and Final Generation ranged from 1963 to the present day. The advancement of the circuit board brought on the era of the modern computer. In 1976 Steve Wozniak and fellow computer hobbyist Steve Jobs Released the Apple I computer, and started Apple Computers. Apple was the first single circuit board computer, it came with a video interface, 8k of Ram and a Keyboard. In 1980 Bill Gates released his Microsoft Disk Operating System commonly referred to as MS-Dos. In 1981 IBM introduced the first personal computer (PC) for the home and office use. In 1983 Apple released the Apple Lisa computer the first massed produced PC that had its own Graphical User Interface (GUI). As the years wear on we see that computers get smaller and they get smarter. I remember back as a child sitting with my brother playing winter Olympics games on our old Apple II E machine. For those of you that don’t know it was clunky. It used 5 1/2 inch floppy disks, which were actually floppy. Now today I have a laptop that has more processing power that the ABC Machine could have ever hoped to have. That brings me to another point, these machines have gone from weighing tons to mere pounds some are even less than a pound. I don’t ever foresee my laptop causing a brown out, unless a script goes horribly wrong that is. Well with that I will bid you a due there will be more knowledge in the future.

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