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"Success is a journey not a destination." - Papyrus

Computers

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:29 AM
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A common misconception about computers is that they are smarter than


humans. Actually, the degree of a computer¹s intelligence depends on the


speed of its ignorance. Today¹s complex computers are not really


intelligent at all. The intelligence is in the people who design them.


Therefore, in order to understand the intelligence of computers, one must


first look at the history of computers, the way computers handle


information, and, finally, the methods of programming the machines.




The predecessor to today¹s computers was nothing like the machines


we use today. The first known computer was Charles Babbage¹s Analytical


Engine; designed in 1834. (Constable 9) It was a remarkable device for its


time. In fact, the Analytical Engine required so much power and would have


been so much more complex than the manufacturing methods of the time, it


could never be built.




No more than twenty years after Babbage¹s death, Herman Hollerith


designed an electromechanical machine that used punched cards to tabulate


the 1890 U.S. Census. His tabulation machine was so successful, he formed


IBM to supply them. (Constable 11) The computers of those times worked


with gears and mechanical computation.




Unlike today¹s chip computers, the first computers were


non-programmable, electromechnical machines. No one would ever confuse the


limited power of those early machines with the wonder of the human brain.


An example was the ENIAC, or Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer.


It was a huge, room-sized machine, designed to calculate artillery firing


tables for the military. (Constable 9) ENIAC was built with more than


19,000 vacuum tubes, nine times the amount ever used prior to this. The


internal memory of ENIAC was a paltry twenty decimal numbers of ten digits


each. (Constable 12)...

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