Historical background of computer hardware

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History of Computers ENG The volume and use of computers in the world are so great, they have become difficult to ignore anymore. Computers appear to us in so many ways that many times, we fail to see them as they actually are. People associated with a computer when they purchased their morning coffee at the vending machine.

As they drove themselves to work, the traffic lights that so often hampered us are controlled by computers in an attempt to speed the journey. Accept it or not, the computer. Writing and Alphabets — Communication First development of signs corresponding to spoken sounds, instead of pictures, to express words. Around B. Computers have been around for a very long time. Going back in history, some people believe that the abacus was the true first computer. The first abacus is believed to come into existence between — BC and was created by the Sumerians so that they could count faster, and has evolved through the years.

People who performed computations or calculations were often referred to as computers. One of the first major counting problems in history was the Census. The History and How of Computers Everything you do on a computer or phone is meticulously programmed. The binary zeros and ones of machine code turn into video games, websites, and programs such as what you are using right now to read this.

The age of information was brought forth by the ability to access all known information and share new. Technology: History of Computers Computers have taking a huge chunk of our everyday lives. If it be using a smartphone or any other type of technology.

Computers have influenced a revolution in the way we live. But it was not always like this, before computers became a necessity, very few people had them in their houses. Only the people that could afford these big clunks of metal had them. The history of computers. Already in , the first big lamp computer IBM appeared, and in , IBM introduced the first transistor computers which reached such a level of reliability and performance that the U. Air Force found it possible to apply them in the early warning system of air defense Yost IBM is also the developer of the first general purpose computers, first computers with a byte-addressable.

The first ever computer was invented in the s by Charlse Babbage. However the first electronic digital computer were developed between and in the United States and in the United Kingdom. They were gigantic, originally the size of a large room, and also need to be supply a large amount of power source which is equivalent as several hundred modern personal computers. The history of computer hardware covers the developments from simple devices to aid calculation, to mechanical calculators, punched card data processing and on to modern stored program computers.

Some examples: the longer a line on a road map, the longer the road that the line represents; the greater the number of clear plastic squares in an architect's model, the greater the number of windows in the building represented; the higher the pitch of an acoustic depth meter, the shallower the water. In analog computers, numerical quantities are represented by, for example, the angle of rotation of a shaft or a difference in electrical potential. Thus the output voltage of the machine at a time might represent the momentary speed of the object being modelled.

As the case of the architect's model makes plain, analog representation may be discrete in nature there is no such thing as a fractional number of windows. As Brian Cantwell Smith has remarked:. James Thomson, brother of Lord Kelvin, invented the mechanical wheel-and-disc integrator that became the foundation of analog computation Thomson [].

The two brothers constructed a device for computing the integral of the product of two given functions, and Kelvin described although did not construct general-purpose analog machines for integrating linear differential equations of any order and for solving simultaneous linear equations. Kelvin's most successful analog computer was his tide predicting machine, which remained in use at the port of Liverpool until the s.

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Mechanical analog devices based on the wheel-and-disc integrator were in use during World War I for gunnery calculations. Following the war, the design of the integrator was considerably improved by Hannibal Ford Ford []. Stanley Fifer reports that the first semi-automatic mechanical analog computer was built in England by the Manchester firm of Metropolitan Vickers prior to Fifer [], p.

In , Vannevar Bush, working at MIT, built the differential analyser, the first large-scale automatic general-purpose mechanical analog computer. Bush's design was based on the wheel and disc integrator. Soon copies of his machine were in use around the world including, at Cambridge and Manchester Universities in England, differential analysers built out of kit-set Meccano, the once popular engineering toy.

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It required a skilled mechanic equipped with a lead hammer to set up Bush's mechanical differential analyser for each new job. Subsequently, Bush and his colleagues replaced the wheel-and-disc integrators and other mechanical components by electromechanical, and finally by electronic, devices. Each box performs a fundamental process, for example addition, multiplication of a variable by a constant, and integration.

In setting up the machine for a given task, boxes are connected together so that the desired set of fundamental processes is executed. Since all the boxes work in parallel, an electronic differential analyser solves sets of equations very quickly. Against this has to be set the cost of massaging the problem to be solved into the form demanded by the analog machine, and of setting up the hardware to perform the desired computation.

A major drawback of analog computation is the higher cost, relative to digital machines, of an increase in precision.

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However, such machines are now a rarity. In , at Cambridge University, Turing invented the principle of the modern computer. He described an abstract digital computing machine consisting of a limitless memory and a scanner that moves back and forth through the memory, symbol by symbol, reading what it finds and writing further symbols Turing [].

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The actions of the scanner are dictated by a program of instructions that is stored in the memory in the form of symbols. This is Turing's stored-program concept, and implicit in it is the possibility of the machine operating on and modifying its own program. Turing's computing machine of is now known simply as the universal Turing machine. Cambridge mathematician Max Newman remarked that right from the start Turing was interested in the possibility of actually building a computing machine of the sort that he had described Newman in interview with Christopher Evans in Evans [?

Here he became familiar with Thomas Flowers' work involving large-scale high-speed electronic switching described below. However, Turing could not turn to the project of building an electronic stored-program computing machine until the cessation of hostilities in Europe in During the wartime years Turing did give considerable thought to the question of machine intelligence. Colleagues at Bletchley Park recall numerous off-duty discussions with him on the topic, and at one point Turing circulated a typewritten report now lost setting out some of his ideas.

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One of these colleagues, Donald Michie who later founded the Department of Machine Intelligence and Perception at the University of Edinburgh , remembers Turing talking often about the possibility of computing machines 1 learning from experience and 2 solving problems by means of searching through the space of possible solutions, guided by rule-of-thumb principles Michie in interview with Copeland, At Bletchley Park Turing illustrated his ideas on machine intelligence by reference to chess.

Michie recalls Turing experimenting with heuristics that later became common in chess programming in particular minimax and best-first.

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Further information about Turing and the computer, including his wartime work on codebreaking and his thinking about artificial intelligence and artificial life, can be found in Copeland With some exceptions — including Babbage's purely mechanical engines, and the finger-powered National Accounting Machine - early digital computing machines were electromechanical. These operate relatively slowly, whereas the basic components of an electronic computer — originally vacuum tubes valves — have no moving parts save electrons and so operate extremely fast.

To Zuse belongs the honour of having built the first working general-purpose program-controlled digital computer. This machine, later called the Z3, was functioning in A program-controlled computer, as opposed to a stored-program computer, is set up for a new task by re-routing wires, by means of plugs etc. Relays were too slow and unreliable a medium for large-scale general-purpose digital computation although Aiken made a valiant effort. It was the development of high-speed digital techniques using vacuum tubes that made the modern computer possible.

The earliest extensive use of vacuum tubes for digital data-processing appears to have been by the engineer Thomas Flowers, working in London at the British Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill. Electronic equipment designed by Flowers in , for controlling the connections between telephone exchanges, went into operation in , and involved between three and four thousand vacuum tubes running continuously. In — Flowers worked on an experimental electronic digital data-processing system, involving a high-speed data store.

Flowers' aim, achieved after the war, was that electronic equipment should replace existing, less reliable, systems built from relays and used in telephone exchanges. Flowers did not investigate the idea of using electronic equipment for numerical calculation, but has remarked that at the outbreak of war with Germany in he was possibly the only person in Britain who realized that vacuum tubes could be used on a large scale for high-speed digital computation. See Copeland for m more information on Flowers' work. The earliest comparable use of vacuum tubes in the U.

During the period — Atanasoff developed techniques for using vacuum tubes to perform numerical calculations digitally. In , with the assistance of his student Clifford Berry, Atanasoff began building what is sometimes called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, or ABC, a small-scale special-purpose electronic digital machine for the solution of systems of linear algebraic equations.

The machine contained approximately vacuum tubes. Although the electronic part of the machine functioned successfully, the computer as a whole never worked reliably, errors being introduced by the unsatisfactory binary card-reader. Work was discontinued in when Atanasoff left Iowa State. The first fully functioning electronic digital computer was Colossus, used by the Bletchley Park cryptanalysts from February These were designed by Turing and Gordon Welchman building on earlier work by Polish cryptanalysts.

During the second half of , messages encoded by means of a totally different method began to be intercepted. Based on binary teleprinter code, Tunny was used in preference to Morse-based Enigma for the encryption of high-level signals, for example messages from Hitler and members of the German High Command.

The first machine designed and built to Newman's specification, known as the Heath Robinson, was relay-based with electronic circuits for counting. The electronic counters were designed by C. Wynn-Williams, who had been using thyratron tubes in counting circuits at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, since [Wynn-Williams ]. Installed in June , Heath Robinson was unreliable and slow, and its high-speed paper tapes were continually breaking, but it proved the worth of Newman's idea.

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Working independently at the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill, Flowers quietly got on with constructing the world's first large-scale programmable electronic digital computer. Colossus I was delivered to Bletchley Park in January By the end of the war there were ten Colossi working round the clock at Bletchley Park.

From a cryptanalytic viewpoint, a major difference between the prototype Colossus I and the later machines was the addition of the so-called Special Attachment, following a key discovery by cryptanalysts Donald Michie and Jack Good.