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## A Brief History of Computers

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### A Brief History of Computers

By

Bernard John Poole, MSIS

Associate Professor of Education and Instructional Technology

University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Johnstown, PA 15904

Pre-Mechanical Computing:From Counting on fingersto pebblesto hash marks on wallsto hash marks on boneto hash marks in sand

Interesting thought:

Do any species, other than homo sapiens, count?

Napier’s Bones andLogarithms (1617)

Picture courtesy IBM

Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine [1837-1871—never completed]

Babbage was never able to complete construction of any of his machines due to conflicts with his chief engineer and inadequate funding.

Lady Augusta AdaCountess of Lovelace (1815-1852]

Read Lady Augusta Ada’s translation of Menabrea’s

Sketch of the Analytical Engine

Electro-mechanical computers

From

Herman Hollerith’s

1890

Census Counting Machine

to

Howard Aiken

and the Harvard Mark I (1944)

The Harvard Mark I (1944)aka IBM’s Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC)

The first computer bug

Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper

Electronic digital computers

From

John Vincent Atanasoff’s

1939

Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC)

to

the present day

1939The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC)

The ABC was the first electronic digital computer, invented by John Vincent Atanasoff

1946The ENIAC

John Presper Eckert

(1919-1995)

and

John Mauchly

(1907-1980)

of the

University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Engineering

ENIAC’s Wiring!

John Von Neumann

John Von Neumann came up with the bright idea of using part of the computer’s internal memory (called Primary Memory) to “store” the program inside the computer and have the computer go get the instructions from its own memory, just as we do with our human brain.

1951Univac

Typical 1968 prices—EX-cluding maintenance & support!

“What hath God wrought!”First telegraph message sent by Samuel Morse, 1844Electronic and computing technology quickly progressed—at an ever-accelerating pace—from vacuum tubes (Lee de Forrest, the audion, 1907)to transistors (William Shockley et al. 1947)to semiconductors (Jack Kilby& Robert Noyce, 1958)to microprocessors (M.E. “Ted” Hoff, 1971)to personal computers [Atari, Apple, IBM, et al., 1975- ]to networking and the Internet (Vinton Cerf & Robert Kahn, 1982]to the World Wide Web (Tim Berners-Lee, 1991)to mobile/cell phones, tablet PCsand beyond…Today, you’ll find computers everywhere you care to look and they are controlling an increasingly broad spectrum of the devices we use as we go about our daily lives. The phone is now (2014) a full-blown computing, communication, and entertainment device.Whatever next?…

Acknowledgements (continued on next slide)

For one of the best written books on the history of computers, check out Engines of the Mind : The Evolution of the Computer from Mainframes to Microprocessors -- by Joel N. Shurkin (Paperback)

A movingly beautiful book on Alan Turing is Alan Turing: the Enigma, by Andrew Hodges

An excellent, readable book on Cryptography is Simon Singh’s THE CODE BOOK. The Secret History of Codes and Code-Breaking

Tutorials on the encryption software PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) can be found at http://www.pitt.edu/~poole/PGPintro.htm

All pictures and some of the information were obtained from various sites on the World Wide Web. Complete list follows:

Abacus: http://qi-journal.com/action.lasso?-Token.SearchID=Abacus&-Response=culture.asp

Napier: http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Napier.html

http://www.maxmon.com/1600ad.htm

Slide Rules: http://www.hpmuseum.org/sliderul.htm

Pascal’s Pascaline: http://www.thocp.net/hardware/pascaline.htm

Leibnitz Stepped Reckoner: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stepped_Reckoner

Jacquard looms: http://history.acusd.edu/gen/recording/jacquard1.html

http://www.deutsches-museum.de/ausstell/meister/e_web.htm

Acknowledgements (continued)

Charles Babbage: http://ei.cs.vt.edu/~history/Babbage.html

http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/on-line/babbage/index.asp

Lady Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace: http://www.well.com/user/adatoole/bio.htm

http://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/sketch.html

Electricity: http://www.mediaeng.com/historyelect.html (beautifully written pocket history of

electricity & magnetism)

Herman Hollerith: http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Hollerith.html

Howard Aiken & The Harvard Mark I: http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Aiken.html

Alan Turing: http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Turing.html

John Vincent Atanasoff: http://www.cs.iastate.edu/jva/books/mollenhoff/overview.shtml

Biographies of Atanasoff and Clifford Berry: http://www.scl.ameslab.gov/ABC/Biographies.html

J. Presper Eckert: http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Eckert_John.html

John Mauchly: http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Mauchly.html

The patent controversy: http://www.library.upenn.edu/special/gallery/mauchly/jwm7.html

ARPANet: http://www.dei.isep.ipp.pt/docs/arpa.html

Thanks to the following EDTECH listserv colleagues and friends who have reviewed the presentation and provided amendments and additional material for inclusion on the slides and in the notes.

Nancy Head, online instructor, Michigan Virtual High School (MVHS), U.S.A., on the web at www.mivhs.org

Mandi Axmann, Instructional Designer, Open Universities Australia

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