CH03_History - Chapter 3: History of computing Goal The...

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Chapter 3: History of computing Goal The main goal of this lecture is to give you a general idea of how computers and the use of computers evolved until now and to consider in which ways it may continue to change. Instead of a complete list and chronology of events, a few significant events and prominent people are featured. Evolution of computers The history of computers can be arbitrarily divided into generations. Generations are defined by very significant technological leaps that completely changed the pace and direction of progress. Most of these events can be seen both as flashes of genius, and as the inevitable results of cumulative work by many contributors. Change has been accelerating exponentially. In many ways, the rate of change of technology has exceeded our ability to manage the consequences proactively. On the other hand, it is difficult to predict where the technology will lead and what will be achieved. Most past predictions have been incorrect, at least in part. By studying the history of events we can identify patterns that do not work and should perhaps not be pursued again, and we can be inspired by the successes. A very complete and growing museum of computer history opened in Mountain View, California, in 2003. The museum has an exquisitely designed and well organized website with biographies, and pictures and descriptions of the exhibits. The website is highly recommended for gathering more facts, or for simple browsing pleasure ( E ARLY COMPUTERS Computers are not a new invention, but early computing devices were mechanical, not electrical. The early computers lacked one or several of the characteristics of the IPOS cycle. T HE F IRST C OMPUTERS Originally, people were the only “computers.” For lengthy calculations that required high certainty and precision, two or more people were hired to perform the same set of calculations. If the results differed, the calculation was performed again. In addition to people, the first “computers” were all sorts of devices used to help people manipulate and process numbers. One of the simplest and most elegant devices was Early computations There was no concept of program, in order to repeat a calculation the same steps were repeated by hand. Computation was “memory-less,” partial results were written down and re-entered. Each step required some manual intervention, thus the computation did not proceed independently of human control. The technology employed was mechanical, not electronic.
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3-2 the abacus , which originally was probably just a set of stones and lines on the sand. Whereas early computers were devices to do numerical calculations, the idea of punched cards to store information was first used to control weaving patterns in looms. Modern computers can deal with any kind of information. JOSEPH M. JACQUARD: PROGRAMMED A LOOM—1804
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This note was uploaded on 12/28/2010 for the course PLS 21 taught by Professor Lieth during the Spring '08 term at UC Davis.

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CH03_History - Chapter 3: History of computing Goal The...

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