Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Early History of Computing Hardware

Early History of Computing Hardware
Many people believe that Stonehenge the famous collection of rock monoliths in Great Britain, is an early form of calendar or astrological calculator.

The abacus which appeared n the sixteenth century BC, was developed as an instrument to record numeric values and on which a human can perform basic arithmetic.

In the middle of the seventeenth century, Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician, built and sold gear- driven mechanical machines, which performed whole number addition and subtraction.

Later in the seventeenth century, a German mathematician, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, built the first mechanical device designed to do all four whole number operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Unfortunately, the state of mechanical gears and levers at that time was such that the Leiniz machine was not very reliable.

In the late eighteenth century, Joseph Jacquard developed what became known as Jacquard’s loom, used for weaving cloth. The loom used a series of cards with holes punched in them to specify the used of specific colored thread and therefore dictate the design that was woven into the cloth.

Although not a computing device, Jacquard’s loom was the forts to make use of an important form of input: the punched card.

It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the next major step was taken this time by a British mathematician, Chares Babbage designed what he called his analytical engine.

His design was too complex for him to build with the technology of his day, so it was never implemented.

His vision however, included many of the important component of today’s computer.

Babbage’s design was the first to include a memory so that intermediate values did not have to be reentered.

His design also included the input of both numbers and mechanical steps making used of punched cards similar to those used in Jacquard’s loom.

During the later part of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, computing advances were made rapidly. William Burroughs produced and sold a mechanical adding machine.

Dr. Herman Hollerith developed the first electro mechanical tabulator, which read information from a punched card.

His device revolutionized the census taken every ten years in the United States. Hollerith later formed a company today known as IBM.
Early History of Computing Hardware
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