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From Tube to Chip: Early Computer History

From Tube to Chip: Early Computer History



Professor Mindy McAdams's presentation about vacuum tubes, microprocessors, and connections between radio, World War II, and computer technology

Professor Mindy McAdams's presentation about vacuum tubes, microprocessors, and connections between radio, World War II, and computer technology



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From Tube to Chip: Early Computer History From Tube to Chip: Early Computer History Presentation Transcript

  • From Tube to Chip Presentation by Mindy McAdams Thursday, Week 13
  • In 1895, French scientist Jean B. Perrin discovered that “ cathode rays ” were negatively charged particles. Between 1895 and 1897, British physicist Joseph J. Thompson conducted further experiments and sought to measure the properties of these particles. The negatively charged particles were later named electrons .
  • The Vacuum Tube
    • John Ambrose Fleming , an Englishman, was one of Thomas Edison’s assistants
    • Later he worked on designing a radio transmitter the Marconi company
    • 1904: Fleming sees that the diode can convert alternating current (AC) into direct current (DC)
    • Incorporates the diode into his radio wave detector
  • Vacuum Tube 1904
    • Fleming calls his diode a thermionic valve (it used heat to control the flow of electricity)
    • In the United States, the thermionic valve was known as a vacuum tube
    • 1906: Lee De Forest’s Audion (the one above c. 1912) is also called a triode
    Diode Triode
  • The Computer Connection
    • The ENIAC contained more than 18,000 triode vacuum tubes
    • Programs had to be physically wired into the computer (plugs into sockets)
    • The ENIAC was designed to integrate ballistic equations and calculate trajectories of naval shells
    • Completed in 1946, ENIAC was too late to help the war effort
    • It remained in use until 1955
  • The ENIAC computer, University of Pennsylvania, 1945
  • Size: over 100 feet long, filling a 30 ft. x 50 ft. room. Height: 10 feet. Depth: about 3 feet. Weight: about 30 tons. Cost: about $486,000 ENIAC
  • Television also used vacuum tubes
    • 1923: Vladimir Zworykin (b. 1889) applies for a patent on his electronic television system and later demonstrates it to engineers at Westinghouse
    • Zworykin is often credited with having invented the cathode ray tube (CRT), the basis for video display monitors and television screens
    • 1926: Philo T. Farnsworth (b. 1906) produces the first all-electronic television image
  • You could build (and repair) your own TV set
  • Early Computers
    • The ENIAC was funded by the U.S. government
    • Built at the University of Pennsylvania
    • Completed in 1946
    • It was later used by the Los Alamos National Laboratory for calculations to develop a hydrogen bomb (the first atom bomb had been built at Los Alamos in 1945)
  • Early Computers (2)
    • Before, during and after ENIAC, others were also building big computers
      • Private companies, including IBM and RCA
      • Other universities, such as MIT and the University of Manchester (England)
    • By the end of 1947 , at least nine such projects were under way in the U.S. and Britain
    • Government funding played a large role
  • Whirlwind
    • Developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); team led by Jay Forrester
    • This was the first computer that:
      • Operated “in real time”
      • Used video displays for output
      • Was not just an electronic copy of older mechanical systems
    • Led directly to U.S. Air Force Semiautomatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system
    • Led indirectly to almost all business computers and minicomputers that followed in the 1960s
  • Whirlwind used approximately 5,000 vacuum tubes. It took 3 years to build and first went online in 1951. Budget: $1 million per year.
  • Open Access
    • Enormous costs = public benefits
    • Because the U.S. government had funded much of the research, it became “open source,” in a sense
    • No private company controlled it
    • (Remember the patent wars in radio?)
    • Grad students who worked on projects later went on to work for private companies, building on these technologies
  • Next Step: The Transistor
    • Invented at Bell Labs in 1947
    • Replaced the glass vacuum tube
    • Smaller than a vacuum tube
    • Did not have to “warm up” before it would work
    • Uses less power; more reliable
    • Made it possible to construct smaller devices, e.g. the “transistor radio”
  • [1954]
  • Edwin Howard Armstrong and the first portable radio, 1923
  • Transistor
    • Functions as a switch (on / off)
    • Made of semiconductor material such as germanium or silicon
  • Bell Labs
    • Founded in 1925 (AT&T and Western Electric)
    • 1947: Invents the transistor
    • 1954: Builds first functional solar cell
    • 1958: Pioneers the concept of the laser
    • 1962: Builds and launches the first orbiting communications satellite (Telstar I)
    • 1969–1972: Creates the Unix operating system and the C programming language
  • Integrated Circuits
    • 1958: First integrated circuit (IC) invented by Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments, a manufacturer of transistors
    • Until then, each component occupied a separate germanium wafer in a stack of wafers (discrete components); these were connected via wires running up the sides of the stack
    • Kilby realized: If one piece of germanium were engineered properly, it could hold all of these components
  • Integrated Circuits (2)
    • The old way: One separate piece of germanium for each component (e.g., transistors, resistors, capacitors)
    • Kilby built a prototype: One thin piece of germanium (about half an inch long) containing five separate components linked together by tiny wires
    • 1961: The U.S. Patent Office awards the first patent on an integrated circuit to Robert Noyce , co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor
    • Kilby’s patent application was still under consideration
    • Today, both men are credited with having independently invented the integrated circuit
    The first integrated circuit developed at Fairchild Semiconductor by Robert Noyce
  • And then came …
    • 1968: Robert Noyce and two other top engineers resigned from Fairchild Semiconductor
    • They founded their own company -- Intel (short for Int egrated El ectronics)
    • Intel soon developed a reputation for expertise in making high transistor-count chips (ICs)
  • The Microprocessor
    • Busicom, a Japanese company, had designed 12 chips for its next-generation programmable calculators
    • Busicom asked Intel to produce them
    • Marcian (Ted) Hoff Jr., an Intel engineer, realized that the Busicom 12-chip scheme was too much for a mere calculator
    • He suggested a new single-chip general-purpose central processor unit (CPU) that could be programmed to perform most of the calculator functions
  • Texas Instruments handheld calculator (c. 1975) Busicom handheld calculator (1972)
  • The Microprocessor (2)
    • 1969: Busicom chose Hoff’s solution over its own 12-chip design
    • Intel granted Busicom exclusive rights to buy the new chipset (consisting of CPU, ROM, RAM and I/O)
    • 1971: Intel and Busicom agreed that in exchange for cheaper chip prices for Busicom, Intel would gain full rights to sell the chips to anyone
  • The Microprocessor (3)
    • Top: Intel’s 4004 integrated CPU – “a microcomputer on a chip” (1971)
    • Intel’s first 16-bit processor was the 8086 (1978)
    • Bottom: Intel’s 80286 (1982) contained 134,000 transistors
    • Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) challenged IBM’s dominance of the computer industry of with smaller “minicomputers” and different purchase options in the 1980s
  • 1975: The MITS Altair 8800 Based on the Intel 8080 CPU World’s first “personal” computer
  • Two guys in Boston sent a letter to the Altair's inventor, asking if he would be interested in selling their BASIC programming language for the machine …
    • Apple-1: Demonstrated in April 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club in Palo Alto, Calif.
    • Went on sale in July 1976 at a price of $666.66
    • IBM was actually quite late to the market: 1981
    • Price: $1,995
  • From Tube to Chip Presentation by Mindy McAdams University of Florida