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The History and Development of Computers

Uploaded by ssnum4 on May 20, 2001

There is no noun with the ability to represent modern life other than computer. Whether the effect is negative or positive, computers control nearly every aspect of our everyday life. Computers have evolved from bearing the role of strictly computing to having the ability of completing unthinkable tasks. Supermarket scanners calculate our grocery bill while keeping store inventory; computerized telephone switching centers play traffic cop to millions of calls and keep lines of communication untangled; and automatic teller machines (ATM) let us conduct banking transactions form virtually anywhere in the world. All of this amazing technology started over five thousand years ago and continues to grow with an unknown culmination.

Around five thousand years ago in Asia minor, a simple machine bearing a system of sliding beads arranged on a rack such as ones found in a pool hall may be considered the first computer. It is known as the Abacus and is still in use today. Merchants used the Abacus to record their barter transactions. Its popularity began to fall when the use of paper and pencil spread particularly throughout Europe, its importance diminished. The next significant advance of computing started with a man named Blaise Pascal, nearly twelve centuries ensuing the invention of the Abacus.

Pascal was an eighteen year-old son of a French tax collector in the early seventeenth century. To ameliorate his father’s duties, Pascal assembled a brass rectangular box, also called a Pascaline, using eight movable dials capable of adding sums up to eight figures long. Pascal’s system is all based upon the number ten. For example, as one dial passed nine, the next dial turned to represent one in the tens column as the original dial returned back to zero. The Pascaline’s only drawback was its limitation to addition.

A German mathematician and philosopher named Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz improved the Pascaline in 1694 by inventing a machine with the ability to not only add, but multiply as well. Leibniz’s mechanical multiplier preserved Pascal’s idea of using dials and gears refined form Pascal’s original Pascaline from the study of his notes and drawings. The refined model used a stepped-drum gear design rather than Pascal’s flat gear design, however; the widespread use of the mechanical calculator did not take effect until 1820.

Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar was another great inventor whose efforts assisted in the evolution of the simple computer. Colmar was a Frenchman whom invented...

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Uploaded by:   ssnum4

Date:   05/20/2001

Category:   Technology

Length:   6 pages (1,291 words)

Views:   1812

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