Wk. 1-Radiance Zeigler

21 May

A computer was originally referred to as a person who makes calculations or computations for a living. Overtime, the word was altered to refer to machines utilized to do either specific or general tasks. The production of mathematical tables were the first attempt to compute information on a large scale using human computers but the earliest known mechanical analog computer, named The Antikythera Mechanism, was found to be created as early as 100 B.C! Although it was created in 100 B.C. this device, whose uses were found to be to calculate astronomical positions, was not actually discovered until 1901. Many origins of the computer were found to be in Europe or the UK, for example, the Difference/Analytical Engines proposed by Charles Babbage in 1822 and 1837. These machines were created by Babbage  in other to reduce the amount of human error he was noticing while computing. One of the first calculation devices introduced to the U.S. though would be considered the Hollerith Desk. Created by Herman Hollerith during the late 19th century, The Hollerith desk a.k.a. The Tabulating Machine, was a huge breakthrough for the U.S. It shaved nearly 7 years off the time it took to previous count the 1880 Census! Other early computer origins also include Napier’s Bones, a device created by John Napier in 1617 to calculate the products and quotients of numbers, The Cosmic Engine, an astronomical clock created by Su Song in 1092 B.C, etc.!

John Mauchly & Jay Presper Eckert, not only built three computers, ENIAC, EDVAC, and UNIVAC, but their contributions greatly contributed to the United States Armed Forced and government. Although many people had doubts and concerns about their computers, it was still beneficial to many. Also, ENIAC was the first  computer that caught the public’s interest. This was a major breaking point in history because public interest of these computers not too long after, led to greater expansion of computer use outside of the government and major corporations.

As the readings and lecture discussed, overtime, the sizes and uses of computers started to increase. Chapter 4 of the reading described how ENIAC took up 1,500 sqft. of the Moore School basement! Containing 40 individual units which measured at 2 ft. wide, 2 ft. long, and 8 ft. high, this thing was humongous. But, although the size was outstanding, it was recorded that it could easily perform 5,000 operations in one second, faster than any previous computer out there. Similar to ENIAC, although many later computers showed an increase in sizing, their capabilities showed a significant increase. Earlier models we created to perform more specific tasks where as later models were more general. For example, at first computers started off just being able to calculate numbers or astronomical tables but by the mid-1900s, computers were used by businesses to do clergy work and was even used by CBS to predict the 1952 presidential election.

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