Words of Wisdom:

"There is no substitute for genuine lack of preparation!" - Whatever


  • 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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