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Unformatted text preview: e. But computers cannot make such judgements on their
Their judgement is based on the instructions-given to them in the form of
programs that are written by us. They are only as good as man makes and uses them.
THE EVOLUTION OF COMPUTERS
Necessity is the mother of invention. The saying holds true for computers also because
computers were invented as a result of man's search for fast and accurate calculating
The earliest device that qualifies as a digital computer is the "abacus" also known as
"soroban". This device (shown in Figure 1.1) permits the users to represent numbers by
the position of beads on a rack. Simple addition and subtraction can be carried out rapidly
and efficiently by positioning the beads appropriately. Although, the abacus was invented
around 600 B.C., it is interesting to note that it is still used in the Far East and its users
can calculate at amazing speeds.
Another manual calculating device was John Napier's bone or cardboard multiplication
calculator, designed in the early 17 th century and its upgraded versions were in use even
The first mechanical adding machine was invented by Blaise Pascal in 1642. Later, in the
year 1671, Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz of Germany invented the first calculator
for multiplication. Keyboard machines originated in the United States around 1880 and
are extensively used even today. Around this period only, Herman Hollerith came up
with the concept of punched cards, which were extensively used as input media in
computers even in late 1970s. Business machines and calculators made their appearance
in Europe and America towards the end of the nineteenth century.
Charles Babbage, a nineteenth century Professor at Cambridge University, is considered
to be the father of modern digital computers. During his period, mathematical and
statistical tables were prepared by a group of clerks. Even the utmost care and precautions could not eliminate human errors. Babbage had to spend several hours
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This document was uploaded on 04/07/2014.
- Spring '14