History of Computers
The volume and use of computers in the world are so great, they have become difficult to ignore anymore. Computers appear to us in so many ways that many times, we fail to see them as they actually are. People associated with a computer when they purchased their morning coffee at the vending machine. As they drove themselves to work, the traffic lights that so often hampered us are controlled by computers in an attempt to speed the journey. Accept it or not, the computer has invaded our life.
The origins and roots of computers started out as many other inventions and technologies have in the past. They evolved from a relatively simple idea or plan designed to help perform functions easier and quicker. The first basic type of computers were designed to do just that; compute!. They performed basic math functions such as multiplication and division and displayed the results in a variety of methods. Some computers displayed results in a binary representation of electronic lamps. Binary denotes using only ones and zeros thus, lit lamps represented ones and unlit lamps represented zeros. The irony of this is that people needed to perform another mathematical function to translate binary to decimal to make it readable to the user.
One of the first computers was called ENIAC. It was a huge, monstrous size nearly that of a standard railroad car. It contained electronic tubes, heavy gauge wiring, angle-iron, and knife switches just to name a few of the components. It has become difficult to believe that computers have evolved into suitcase sized micro-computers of the 1990's.
Computers eventually evolved into less archaic looking devices near the end of the 1960's. Their size had been reduced to that of a small automobile and they were processing segments of information at faster rates than older models. Most computers at this time were termed "mainframes" due to the fact that many computers were linked together to perform a given function. The primary user of these types of computers were military agencies and large corporations such as Bell, AT&T, General Electric, and Boeing. Organizations such as these had the funds to afford such technologies. However, operation of these computers required extensive intelligence and manpower resources. The average person could not have fathomed trying to operate and use these million dollar processors.
The United States was attributed the title of pioneering the computer. It was not until the early 1970's that nations such as Japan and the United Kingdom started utilizing technology of their own for the development of the computer. This resulted in newer components and smaller sized computers. The use and operation of computers had developed into a form that people of average intelligence could handle and manipulate without to much ado. When the economies of other nations started to compete with the United States, the computer industry expanded at a great rate. Prices dropped dramatically and computers became more affordable to the average household. Like the invention of the wheel, the computer is here to stay.
The operation and use of computers in our present era of the 1990's has become so easy and simple that perhaps we may have taken too much for granted. Almost everything of use in society requires some form of training or education. Many people say that the predecessor to the computer was the typewriter. The typewriter definitely required training and experience in order to operate it at a usable and efficient level. Children are being taught basic computer skills in the classroom in order to prepare them for the future evolution of the computer age.
The history of computers started out about 2000 years ago, at the birth of the abacus, a wooden rack holding two horizontal wires with beads strung on them. When these beads are moved around, according to programming rules memorized by the user, all regular arithmetic problems...
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Information Machine. New York: BasicBooks, 1996.
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