Computer History Research Paper

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Computer History

It is said that before 1935, a computer was a person who was performing arithmetic calculations. During 1935 and 1945, a computer was referred to as a machine but not a person. Its definition as a modern machine tends to be based on von Neuman's concepts: a device that is capable of accepting input, processing data, storing data and producing output.

Earlier there was abacus which was used for mathematical computations. Its importance was just in aiding memory of the human who was performing the calculation. A skilled operator was capable of working on addition and subtraction problems at the speed of an individual who was equipped with a calculator but slow in division and multiplication. People always wrongly attribute abacus to China. Whereas the oldest ever existed abacus was used in 300 B.C. By the Babylonians.

Giant ENIAC machine was the first substantial computer and was invented by John W. Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania. Electrical Numerical Integrator Calculator (ENIAC) applied a word of 10 decimal digits but not binary ones which was being used by previous automated calculators/computers. Giant ENIAC machine is said to have been the first machine to use vacuum tubes that were more than 2,000 where the vacuum tubes were around 18000, (Ceruzzi & Paul E, 2000). For every vacuum tubes and the machinery to be stored, a floor space of over 167 square meters was needed. However, it contained arithmetically 1 multiplier, punched-card input and output, 1 divider-square rooter, as well as 20 adders employing decimal.

Its technique of "wire-your-own" in instruction seemed to be inconvenient, and it was just programmable with some of license, though it was useful in carrying out specific programs that it was designed for. Nevertheless, ENIAC received a general acknowledgement for being a successful high-speed electronic digital computer (EDC). Its productive use lasted from 1946 to 1955.

The need for improvement of computers saw the invention of two devices in 1950's which led to the start of computer revolution. These were transistor with the inventors being William Shockley, Walter Brattain, and John Bardeen of Bell Labs, these transistors were meant to oust the times of vacuum tube in computers, radios as well as other electronics. The vacuum tube which is still used to date in about every computers and calculating machines was founded in 1906 by American physicist Lee De Forest, Rojas, Raul and Ulf Hashagen (2000). Having a size of about a human thumb, vacuum tube used large amount of electricity to heat a filament inside the tube to the level when it could be cherry red.

Vacuum tubes were not sufficient since it needed a huge space and required replacement often. The 1940s and 50s computers had 18000 tubes within them and for these tubes to be housed and the rooms to be cooled from the heat which was produced by 18000 tubes proved to be expensive. Even though transistors promised to find solution to this problem, it failed to do so.

This problem came to be solved in 1958, when Jack St. Clair Kilby of Texas Instruments manufactured the first integrated circuit or chip. A chip tended to be a collection of tiny transistors that was being connected together during the time of manufacturing transistors. Therefore, the argument of the larger number of transistors came to stop; the only thing was how to connect to other electronic components, Moreau, R. (1984). This resulted to space saving, increase in the speed of the machine because there was a diminished distance that the electrons had to follow. During 1960s, large mainframe computers dominated large industries, space programs and U.S. military. These large, expensive, error-prone and very hard to use computers were majorly being sold by IBM, (Roderick Hames, 2011).

In early 1970s, a veritable explosion of personal computers occurred, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs being the first, they exhibited the first Apple II at the First West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco. Apple II was made of basic programming language, 4100 character memory and color graphics. Audio-cassette recorder was used to store programs and data.

In 1977, Tandy Radio Shack introduced TRS-80, which was a home computer. During its second incarnation, the TRS-80 Model II, had incorporations of 64,000 character memory as well as a disk drive which was to be used for storing programs and data,( Wozniak, Steve & Gina Smith, 2006). Within this time only TRS and Apple were the machines that had disk drives. After the introduction of the disk drive, personal computer applications took off since floppy disk proved to be the convenient publishing medium for software distribution.

IBM which was still producing mainframes and minicomputers realized the need for improvement and came up with Acorn which was called later IBM PC. This was the first computers that were designed for the home market and was featuring modular design which made easy addition of pieces to the architecture. On its introduction, the PC was having 16000 character memory, a connection for tape cassette player and a keyboard from an IBM electric typewriter.

Coming to 1984, IBM and Apple brought in new models. The release of Apple was the first generation Macintosh, and was the first computer to bring graphical user interface (GUI) as well as mouse. The impact of GUI made the machines to be highly attractive to home computers users since it provides an easy use. To counter this, IBM released the 286-at, which had applications such as Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Word, and a spreadsheet and this made the business sector to consider it as the favorite.

Nowadays people tend to have their personal graphics workstations and powerful home computers. When we look at the computer revolution, it has been the fastest growing technology in the history of man. It has brought services that brought the world to be a small place. The internet which it has brought was originally Advanced Research Projects Agency network (ARPAnet). It started as a military computer network in 1969. The network was an experiment project which was done by the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Then the government agencies and universities created internal networks from the model of ARPAnet.

The today's internet was provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Instead of having a physical communications connection from every institution to a supercomputing center, the idea of the NSF was that a chain of connection was to be used in connecting even their neighbor computing centers having all tied to a central supercomputing centers. This expanded to a global network of computer networks, and is the one now allows computers in every part of the world to have a communication with one another and even share the information at variety computer servers. Its birth came in 1986 through National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET), and universities became the early users of the internet, Virginia Mentecino (2010). In 1995, it was begun to be offered to a number of customers by large Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like, AOL, MCI, UUNET and Sprint. Due to the traffic on the Internet turned to be so heavy, part of the scientific and academic institutions who were the founders of the original Internet developed another new global network known as Internet 2 referred to as Abilene Project, and it runs on fast fiber-optic cable. It was opened officially for business in February 1999.

Another service that the computer provides is World Wide Web which was invented by TimBerners-Lee in 1990. Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau wrote the first server software and WWW client, where they defined Web addresses (URLs), hypertext markup language (html) and hypertext transfer protocol (http), Virginia Mentecino (2010). Later graphical Web browser, Mosaic, evolved into Netscape.

In future, there are various areas where the computer will be used. For example,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Computer History.  (2012, March 8).  Retrieved February 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Computer History."  8 March 2012.  Web.  20 February 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Computer History."  March 8, 2012.  Accessed February 20, 2019.