Friday 30 August 2013

The History Of The Computer

Computers are such a major part of our daily lives, that for most of us, we largely take their existence for granted.  Yet the complex machines that we use today once had very humble beginnings, with the advancement in computer technology escalating in the last 50 years or so.  Here's how the computer's story all began.
The very beginnings
The history of computers can be traced back to the middle 1800s, designed by Charles Babbage.  Although these computers looked nothing like what we would imagine computers to look like today, the concepts of data inputting and outputting, separating storage from processing and the logical structure of computers are very similar to that of today.
Early 1900s
Electro-mechanical computers were built in the 1930s.  They were either analogue or digital. Many of today's concepts in computing originated from these early electro-mechanical machines.  The first program-controlled digital computer was built around this time, which used floating-point numbers in computations.
The first electronic computers came about during WWII.  They were used to decrypt German codes.  The first named one was called Colossus.  Another important computer at this time was called The Baby, which was the first of its type to use an early form of random access memory (RAM) using a cathode-ray tube.
The 1950s saw a change in the way that computers were used.  Earlier, they had served scientific, mathematical and defence functions.  But, now, they were being used for business purposes, such as accounting and banking functions.  The first mass-produced computer was UNIVAC.
Another major development in computing took place in the mid 1950s, and this was the development of transistor computers.  Transistors replaced vacuum tubes.  The end result was smaller computers.
In the 1960s and 70s, the microchip took over computer technology, leading to the microprocesor.  Computers became even smaller.
The first personal computers came about in the early 1970s.  The Commodore PET was one such notable early PC.
The advent of portable computers came into existence in the 1980s.  They were by no means portable in the sense we would expect today, as some of them were large and cumbersome to carry!  The first marketed 'laptop' was the Gavilan SC in 1983.  Laptop technology advanced quickly thereafter.
The new century has seen some of the most exciting developments in computer history.  The introduction of Smartphones has changed the way we use computers today, with a basic phone capable of performing most of the functions that a computer can do.
The development of netbook computers has also catapulted computer technology to the fore, with many having their own in-built WiFi capabilities.
The future
So what can we expect from computers of the future?  Will they develop and change as rapidly as they have done in the last few decades?  Leading experts believe that future computers will be able to process data much faster than today.  Computers will be able to handle ever-increasing complex problems.
Some experts even go as far as to say that computers of the future will be invisible, where computers are actually integrated into everything around us, even the clothing you wear.
Whatever we can expect, the likelihood is that the development will be exciting.
When at school the other kids used to laugh at Crispin Jones for his nerdy obsession with computers. He has now turned his hobby into a paid job and writes about hosting for CWCS.

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