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History of Computers

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FC: PORTFOLIO | For centuries, people have been trying to create technology to improve upon simple tasks, such as arithmetic. Slide rules, abacuses, and mechanical calculators are all foundations of modern computers.

1: A Pascaline Calculator | A Jacquard loom with punch cards. | In 1642, a teenager by the name of Blaise Pascal invented a calculator, the Pascaline, to help his father, who was working on assorting taxes for the French government. This was one of the first mechanical calculators capable of performing problems at faster than human speed, with less error. | Another early invention that revolutionized the modern age of computer technology was the Jacquard Loom. Created by Joseph Marie Jacquard, this loom used a new idea: holes carved into wooden plates. As the plates ran through the loom, a needle would thread through a hole (if present) or past if there wasn't one. This made it possible to increase production with less workers.

2: In 1941 the first Bombe was created. The Polish Cipher Bureau created the first Bombes, while Alan Turing designed the Britsh Bombe. | Turing Bombe | Bombes were used to break ciphered codes from Nazi Enigma machines. The Bombes could unscramble the codes in hours, compared to weeks before.

3: Colossus Computer | The Colossus was the first electronic and digital computer that ran on a specific program and was for one purpose. | Like the Turing Bombe, the Colossus was used to break Lorenz ciphers, which without, the outcome of the war might have changed.

4: In 1938, a German civil engineer named Konrad Zuse built the Zuse 1, or Z1, which was the world's first freely programmable computer. | It was similar to the Jacquard loom in that it read instructions from punched tape. | However, this machine was very unreliable, as it failed to operate sometimes.

5: In 1941, Konrad Zuse built another machine, the Z3. | This was the world's first program controlled, automatic computer. Data was then stored on punched film.

6: The E.N.I.A.C. was built in 1945 and publicized in 1946. | E.N.I.A.C. took up a whole room's worth of space. The E.N.I.A.C. improved upon it's predecessors by 1,000 times. It was able to process up to 5,000 operations per second, but required mass amounts of electricity to power its thousands of vacuum tubes. | E.N.I.A.C. was programmed by switches and plug boards being exchanged manually. | Point Contact Transistor

7: As the years passed, newer technology emerged. Magnetic drum storage, which could store up to 1 million bits and could retrieve words in five-thousandths of a second. | In 1952 Grace Hopper finished her A-0 Compiler. A compiler is a program that lets users use English-type words rather than numbers.

8: Magnetic Core Memory increased computer performance by offering more storage. | Semiconductors start to become more used as it is proved that capacitors and resistors can be on the same semiconducting material. | AT&T creates the first modem in 1960 to convert digital data from a computer into analog signals. | Cray 6600

9: Supercomputers begin to emerge, such as the Cray 6600, Cray XMP, and ILLIAC IV. The ILLIAC is capable of 3 million operations per second, 1 billion bits per second, and 200 million instructions per second. | Pre-assembled computers become popular. With a great 4KB of memory, color display, and being ready to go, models like the Apple II, Commodore PET, and Tandy TRS-80 sell great.

10: The Apple Macintosh introduced something new. It was the first successful PC to come with a mouse and a GUI (graphical user interface), instead of command line. This set a standard for today's computers. | Computers like the Commodore 64 introduced gaming to the computer industry. The Commodore 64 is actually the best selling computer of all time during its life span (1982-1984).

11: Computers (and technology in general) have changed so much within the last 75 years. We have gone from hardly programmable, binary computers (Z1) to retina display, wireless, touch screen devices and computers (iPad, Mac). No longer are switches needed to be manually changed or plugs rearranged. Memory, storage, and programming has vastly increased since long ago. The future can only hold more opportunities. Where will we go next?

12: Sources: | AAAAEQ/vyMdeBZiATI/s1600/z3_ganz_gross.jpg

13: pet2001_clavier-merdique.jpg

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