Evolution of Computers

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The Evolution of Computers Nov.25/09

Computers have evolved from the first mechanical device that performed simple tasks, to the present day systems that perform a multitude of varying tasks at amazing speeds. Computers have been around in one form or another for thousands of years, from a device that performed simple arithmetic, to devices that charted the movement of the planets.

One of the first known computers was the Antikythera Mechanism, dating from around the first or second century B.C. It was used to chart the sun, moon and planets through the skies. It had a local/star calendar, moon phase display and could predict eclipses. The astrolabe was another device used by astronomers, navigators and astrologers to determine local time, survey and triangulation. Another simple computer calculating device was the abacus or counting frame; it was a calculating tool for arithmetic processes.

One of the first electronic digital computers (1939-1945) incorporated the vacuum tube was developed in 1937 by John V, Atanasoff and demonstrated in 1939. In 1945, John W, Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert built the ENIAC for the military. It was used to calculate elevation for large guns on ship to shore campaigns. Some of the early computers were the size of a large room. In early computer technology, the vacuum tube was critical to the development of analog and digital computers. These systems required vast sums of power and because of their size, needed a lot of space. The next generation of computers (1954-1959) was the age of transistors, expensive at first, cost $8.00 versus $75.00 for the vacuum tube and was more comparable in size. In (1959-1971) - integrated circuits: heralded the beginning of the mini-computer and in (1971-1991) came the advent of the microprocessor or logic chip, it initiated the activation of all the components necessary to allow the computer to be used. In November, Intel developed the first microcomputer, the MCS-4. In 1976, Apple developed the personal computer and in 1977, Nintendo began to make computer games. This was all made possible by the microprocessor. From the Antikythera Mechanism to today's high speed computers, the evolution of computers is constantly changing and it makes you wonder what advances will come to fruition in the next 50 years. http://history.sandiego.edu/GEN/recording/computer1.html

Charles Mason