The History And Development Of Computers

2250 words - 9 pages

In this world, there is one machine that can solve any problem, perform any task, and improve every minute. This glorious machine is the computer. Throughout the history of the world, computers have evolved greatly; from primitive pieces of wood and beads which could only do simple math (Jones, 6), to 30-ton machines that would fill up entire rooms (Jones, 14), and then to beholding the entire world at your fingertips. Today, the computer is an extremely important part of life. With the complex components of today's computer, it is very hard to believe where this fascinating piece of machinery came from. Back in the early Middle Ages, there were no such thing as calculators, computers, or even electricity. In order to perform simple math calculations, there was a very basic invention that existed, called an abacus . The abacus, which originated somewhere in the Middle East, consisted of a wooden frame which was divided into an upper and a lower section. Going through the abacus were rods, which held wooden beads. In the upper section, which is also known as "heaven," there were two beads, and in the lower section, which is called "earth," there were five. The rods correspond to columns, and the beads correspond to numbers. Each bead below the divider counted as one, while each bead above the divider counted as five (Galan, 6). Different types of abaci were created in the early history of the world, but soon enough, the abacus lost its importance as paper and pencil were more widely accepted. The next significant invention that brought the world closer to computers, nearly 12 centuries later, is that of Blaise Pascal. In 1642, he developed a mechanical adding machine, which he named the Pascaline . It consisted of a rectangular brass box, which had 8 movable dials on it. These dials were used to add sums that had up to eight digits in them. Since the Pascaline was on a base ten count, when one dial made one complete revolution, the next dial would move to the next notch, and so on. Although an important advancement, the Pascaline's major drawback was that it could only perform the function of addition (Jones, 1). When talking about the development of computers, the name that is most often brought up is that of Charles Babbage . Born on December 26th, 1791 in South London, Babbage was an extremely precocious and curious child. He always wanted to know how all of his toys functioned, and would often break them open so he could satisfy his interest. Little did he know that his curiosity led him to become one of the most well known contributors to the development of the computer (Collier, 10) As an adult, Babbage became involved in the founding of the Royal Astronomical Society. One day, while examining the Society's mathematical calculations, and finding many errors, he exclaimed, "I wish to God these calculations had been performed by steam!" That is where it all began (Jones, 2). Babbage concluded that...

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