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A Brief History of Computer

Aug 18, 2007
Uninformed researchers of computer history would probably note the first computer in the mid 1930`s. In reality, this history dates nearly 2000 years ago with the invention of the abacus where the user programmed beads using formulated constructs.

Although many historians caution against the use of the word computer except to define 20th century computers, a broader understanding illuminates an instrument designed by a Frenchman and which functioned as a calculator and was designed for a tax collector in the 1600`s. Improvements to this calculator continued through the 19th century.

Similar work was underway in England and with the support of the government a `mechanical` calculator was invented. It was powered by steam and supported a fixed program for its use. This calculator went through many changes until an automatic calculator was invented. Following this flurry of discovery and invention, little changed until the early 1900`s when detailed mechanical and transportation work required complex mathematical calculations (especially calculus).

Two Census Bureau workers began to look for a means of accurately calculating information. They conceived the idea of a punch card which would be inserted into the computer, read, and stored. The greatest advantage of these still slow moving machines was the ability to store large amounts of information with ease and accuracy.

The early 1940`s and the imminent World War, brought the military into the computer era. New weapons requiring computer technology for effectiveness, were needed, designed and produced. These were large floor model machines and utilized the floor space of an average one family home (about 2,000 square feet). One independent computer was not adequate and a means was found to link computers which produced a more accurate and clear channel of information. These devices were not only cumbersome but they required rewiring and rechanneling for each program. Greater inventions were in progress. These new computers would be equipped with memory capacity and worker faster than any in existence at the time.

In 1947, the first modern programmable computers were designed. They contained RAM (Random Access Memory) and made it possible to access information in seconds. This technology continued to be tested and improved into the 1950`s when magnetic core memory and a transistor circuit element were discovered. These increased the memory capacity and functionality of the computers. On the down side the cost to operate these machines was astronomical. By nearly sheer determination alone, these devices evolved into amazing machines able to work with a number of programs simultaneously while giving the impression that only one program was in use.

As recently as the 1960`s computers were more available and the price had become nearly reasonable for businesses. Their use however, was confined mostly to mathematically based operations such as billing, accounting, and payroll. One of the major purchasers of these devices was hospitals which stored date from patients, inventory, billing, treatments, and the like.

By the 1980`s smaller individual computers were being produced. Technology continued to astound the general public as the microchip came into existence permitting personal computers to be sold with accompanying program disks for downloading. A glance around most medium to large companies would reveal many desk top computers in use.

It would be impossible to track the history of computers without acknowledging Apple Computer and IBM for their leading edge and evolving technology. Radio Shack coupled with Apple Computer produced video games for the computer (a move from the arcade).

The ability for businesses and individuals to access the worldwide web gave birth to new and innovative marketing and communication with inquirers and/or clients. Today it is inconceivable that one attempt to research something on line and not find multiple references there. The momentum has only continued to mount and new upgrades are available nearly by the day.
About the Author
This article can be accessed in portuguese from the Article section of page www.polomercantil.com.br/computador-pc.php
Roberto Sedycias works as IT consultant for www.PoloMercantil.com.br
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