Evolution of computers essay

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How Have Computers Developed and Changed?

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1. Evolution of Computers Essay

Gmo Food Essays. Haven't found the right essay? Get an expert to write your essay! Get your paper now. Professional writers and researchers. Sources and citation are provided. This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers. Your time is important. Get essay help. Accessed 19 October The Evolution of Technology. Soon afterward, Hollerith realized his machine had other applications, so he set up the Tabulating Machine Company in to manufacture it commercially.

The history of computing remembers colorful characters like Babbage, but others who played important—if supporting—roles are less well known. In , Bush made the first of a series of unwieldy contraptions with equally cumbersome names: the New Recording Product Integraph Multiplier.

Later, he built a machine called the Differential Analyzer, which used gears, belts, levers, and shafts to represent numbers and carry out calculations in a very physical way, like a gigantic mechanical slide rule. Bush's ultimate calculator was an improved machine named the Rockefeller Differential Analyzer, assembled in from km miles of wire and electric motors.

Machines like these were known as analog calculators—analog because they stored numbers in a physical form as so many turns on a wheel or twists of a belt rather than as digits. Although they could carry out incredibly complex calculations, it took several days of wheel cranking and belt turning before the results finally emerged. Photo: A Differential Analyzer. The black part in the background is the main part of the machine.

The operator sits at a smaller console in the foreground. Impressive machines like the Differential Analyzer were only one of several outstanding contributions Bush made to 20th-century technology. Another came as the teacher of Claude Shannon — , a brilliant mathematician who figured out how electrical circuits could be linked together to process binary code with Boolean algebra a way of comparing binary numbers using logic and thus make simple decisions.

One of Bush's final wartime contributions was to sketch out, in , an idea for a memory-storing and sharing device called Memex that would later inspire Tim Berners-Lee to invent the World Wide Web. As a father of the digital computer, an overseer of the atom bomb, and an inspiration for the Web, Bush played a pivotal role in three of the 20th-century's most far-reaching technologies.

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Many of the pioneers of computing were hands-on experimenters—but by no means all of them. One of the key figures in the history of 20th-century computing, Alan Turing — was a brilliant Cambridge mathematician whose major contributions were to the theory of how computers processed information.

In , at the age of just 23, Turing wrote a groundbreaking mathematical paper called "On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem," in which he described a theoretical computer now known as a Turing machine a simple information processor that works through a series of instructions, reading data, writing results, and then moving on to the next instruction. Turing's ideas were hugely influential in the years that followed and many people regard him as the father of modern computing—the 20th-century's equivalent of Babbage.

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Essay on Technology. Research Paper on Evolution of computers

Although essentially a theoretician, Turing did get involved with real, practical machinery, unlike many mathematicians of his time. Today, Alan Turing is best known for conceiving what's become known as the Turing test, a simple way to find out whether a computer can be considered intelligent by seeing whether it can sustain a plausible conversation with a real human being.


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The World War II years were a crucial period in the history of computing, when powerful gargantuan computers began to appear. Just before the outbreak of the war, in , German engineer Konrad Zuse — constructed his Z1, the world's first programmable binary computer, in his parents' living room. It was a great advance— times more accurate than Bush's Differential Analyzer. These were the first machines that used electrical switches to store numbers: when a switch was "off", it stored the number zero; flipped over to its other, "on", position, it stored the number one.

Hundreds or thousands of switches could thus store a great many binary digits although binary is much less efficient in this respect than decimal, since it takes up to eight binary digits to store a three-digit decimal number. These machines were digital computers: unlike analog machines, which stored numbers using the positions of wheels and rods, they stored numbers as digits.


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The first large-scale digital computer of this kind appeared in at Harvard University, built by mathematician Howard Aiken — A giant of a machine, stretching 15m 50ft in length, it was like a huge mechanical calculator built into a wall. It must have sounded impressive, because it stored and processed numbers using "clickety-clack" electromagnetic relays electrically operated magnets that automatically switched lines in telephone exchanges —no fewer than of them. Impressive they may have been, but relays suffered from several problems: they were large that's why the Harvard Mark I had to be so big ; they needed quite hefty pulses of power to make them switch; and they were slow it took time for a relay to flip from "off" to "on" or from 0 to 1.

Photo: An analog computer being used in military research in Most of the machines developed around this time were intended for military purposes.

A brief history of computers

Like Babbage's never-built mechanical engines, they were designed to calculate artillery firing tables and chew through the other complex chores that were then the lot of military mathematicians. During World War II, the military co-opted thousands of the best scientific minds: recognizing that science would win the war, Vannevar Bush's Office of Scientific Research and Development employed 10, scientists from the United States alone. Things were very different in Germany.

When Konrad Zuse offered to build his Z2 computer to help the army, they couldn't see the need—and turned him down. On the Allied side, great minds began to make great breakthroughs. In , a team of mathematicians based at Bletchley Park near London, England including Alan Turing built a computer called Colossus to help them crack secret German codes.

Colossus was the first fully electronic computer. Instead of relays, it used a better form of switch known as a vacuum tube also known, especially in Britain, as a valve. The vacuum tube, each one about as big as a person's thumb and glowing red hot like a tiny electric light bulb, had been invented in by Lee de Forest — , who named it the Audion. This breakthrough earned de Forest his nickname as "the father of radio" because their first major use was in radio receivers , where they amplified weak incoming signals so people could hear them more clearly.

Just like the codes it was trying to crack, Colossus was top-secret and its existence wasn't confirmed until after the war ended.

It contained nearly 18, vacuum tubes nine times more than Colossus , was around 24 m 80 ft long, and weighed almost 30 tons. ENIAC is generally recognized as the world's first fully electronic, general-purpose, digital computer. Colossus might have qualified for this title too, but it was designed purely for one job code-breaking ; since it couldn't store a program, it couldn't easily be reprogrammed to do other things.

ENIAC was just the beginning. Its two inventors formed the Eckert Mauchly Computer Corporation in the late s. In a key piece of work, von Neumann helped to define how the machine stored and processed its programs, laying the foundations for how all modern computers operate. They were helped in this task by a young, largely unknown American mathematician and Naval reserve named Grace Murray Hopper — , who had originally been employed by Howard Aiken on the Harvard Mark I.

It was then manufactured for other users—and became the world's first large-scale commercial computer.

The History Of Computers and Coding Part 1

Which one was truly the first great modern computer? All of them and none: these—and several other important machines—evolved our idea of the modern electronic computer during the key period between the late s and the early s. Vacuum tubes were a considerable advance on relay switches, but machines like the ENIAC were notoriously unreliable. The modern term for a problem that holds up a computer program is a "bug. But there were other problems with vacuum tubes too. They consumed enormous amounts of power: the ENIAC used about times as much electricity as a modern laptop.

And they took up huge amounts of space. Military needs were driving the development of machines like the ENIAC, but the sheer size of vacuum tubes had now become a real problem. The ENIAC's designers had boasted that its calculating speed was "at least times as great as that of any other existing computing machine.

So a new technology was urgently required. The solution appeared in thanks to three physicists working at Bell Telephone Laboratories Bell Labs.