1.2 The History of Computing 9 the staircase, because the artist is not interested in the details of exactly how the woman or the staircase look. Those details are irrelevant to the impact the artist is trying to create. In fact, the realistic details would get in the way of the issues that the artist thinks are important. Abstraction is the key to computing. The layers of a computing system embody the idea of abstraction. And abstractions keep appearing within individual layers in various ways as well. In fact, abstraction can be seen throughout the entire evolution of computing systems, as we explore in the next section. 1.2 The History of Computing The historical foundation of computing goes a long way toward explaining why computing systems today are designed as they are. Think of this section as a story whose characters and events have led to the place we are now and form the foundation of the exciting future to come. We examine the history of computing hardware and software separately because they
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