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Did you know that the term "Computer" once meant a profession? And what did people or computers actually do? They computed mathematical problems. Some problems were tedious and error prone. And it is not surprising that people started to develop machines to aid in the effort. The first mechanical computers were actually created to get rid of errors in human computation. Then came tabulating machines and cash registers. It was not until telephone companies were well established that computing machines became practical.
First computers were huge mainframes, but soon minicomputers like DEC’s PDP started to appear. The transistor was introduced in 1947, but its usefulness was not truly realized until in 1958 when the integrated circuit was invented. This led to the invention of the microprocessor. Intel, in 1971, marketed the 4004 – and the personal computer revolution started. One of the first Personal Computers was MITS’ Altair. This was a simple device and soon others saw the opportunities.
In this lecture we start our coverage of computing and look at some of the early machines and the impact they had.