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  1. 1. A Brief History of ComputersA Brief History of Computers By Bernard John Poole, MSIS Associate Professor of Education and Instructional Technology University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Johnstown, PA 15904
  2. 2. Pre-Mechanical Computing: From Counting on fingersFrom Counting on fingers to pebblesto pebbles to hash marks on wallsto hash marks on walls to hash marks on boneto hash marks on bone to hash marks in sandto hash marks in sand Interesting thought: Do any species, other than homo sapiens, count?
  3. 3. Mechanical computers FromFrom The AbacusThe Abacus c. 4000 BCEc. 4000 BCE toto Charles BabbageCharles Babbage and his Difference Engine (1812)and his Difference Engine (1812)
  4. 4. Mechanical computers: The Abacus (c. 3000 BCE)
  5. 5. Napier’s Bones andNapier’s Bones and Logarithms (1617)Logarithms (1617) Picture courtesy IBM
  6. 6. Counting on Bones
  7. 7. Oughtred’s (1621) andOughtred’s (1621) and Schickard‘s (1623]Schickard‘s (1623] slide ruleslide rule
  8. 8. Blaise Pascal’sBlaise Pascal’s Pascaline (1645)Pascaline (1645)
  9. 9. Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz’sGottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz’s Stepped Reckoner (1674)Stepped Reckoner (1674)
  10. 10. Joseph-Marie Jacquard and his punchedJoseph-Marie Jacquard and his punched card controlled looms (1804)card controlled looms (1804)
  11. 11. Preparing the cards with the patternPreparing the cards with the pattern for the cloth to be wovenfor the cloth to be woven
  12. 12. Charles Babbage (1791-1871)Charles Babbage (1791-1871) The Father of ComputersThe Father of Computers
  13. 13. Charles Babbage’s DifferenceCharles Babbage’s Difference EngineEngine
  14. 14. Charles Babbage’s Analytical EngineCharles Babbage’s Analytical Engine
  15. 15. Lady Augusta AdaCounLady Augusta AdaCoun Read Lady Augusta Ada’s translation of Menabrea’s Sketch of the Analytical Engine
  16. 16. Electro-mechanical computers FromFrom Herman Hollerith’sHerman Hollerith’s 18901890 Census Counting MachineCensus Counting Machine toto Howard AikenHoward Aiken and the Harvard Mark I (1944)and the Harvard Mark I (1944)
  17. 17. Herman Hollerith and hisHerman Hollerith and his Census Tabulating Machine (1884)Census Tabulating Machine (1884)
  18. 18. A closer look at the CensusA closer look at the Census Tabulating MachineTabulating Machine
  19. 19. The Harvard Mark I (1944)The Harvard Mark I (1944) aka IBM’s Automatic Sequenceaka IBM’s Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC)Controlled Calculator (ASCC)
  20. 20. The first computer bugThe first computer bug Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopp
  21. 21. Electronic digital computers FromFrom John Vincent Atanasoff’sJohn Vincent Atanasoff’s 19391939 Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC)Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) toto the present daythe present day
  22. 22. Alan Turing1912-1Alan Turing1912-1 The Turing Machine Aka The Universal Machine 1936
  23. 23. John Vincent Atanasoff (1903-1995)John Vincent Atanasoff (1903-1995) Physics Prof At Iowa State University, Ames, IA
  24. 24. Clifford Berry (1918-1963)Clifford Berry (1918-1963) PhD student of Dr. Atanasoff’s
  25. 25. 19391939 The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC)The Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) The ABC was the first electronic digital computer, invented by John Vincent Atanasoff
  26. 26. 19431943 Bletchley Park’s ColossusBletchley Park’s Colossus The Enigma Machine
  27. 27. 19461946 The ENIACThe ENIAC John Presper Eckert (1919-1995) and John Mauchly (1907-1980) of the University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Engineering
  28. 28. The ENIAC:The ENIAC: Electronic Numerical Integrator andElectronic Numerical Integrator and ComputerComputer
  29. 29. Programming the ENIACProgramming the ENIAC
  30. 30. ENIAC’s Wiring!ENIAC’s Wiring! John Von Neumann came up with the bright idea of using part of the computer’s internal memory (called Primary Memory) to “store” the program inside the computer and have the computer go get the instructions from its own memory, just as we do with our human brain. John Von NeumannJohn Von Neumann
  31. 31. 19511951 UnivacUnivac Typical 1968 prices—EX-cluding maintenance & support!
  32. 32. “What hath God wrought!” (first telegraph message sent by Samuel MorseSamuel Morse, 1844, 1844) Electronic and computing technology quickly progressed—at an ever-accelerating pace — from vacuum tubes (Lee de ForrestLee de Forrest, the audion, 1907, the audion, 1907) to transistors (William Shockley et alWilliam Shockley et al. 1947). 1947) to semiconductors (Jack KilbyJack Kilby && Robert NoyceRobert Noyce, 1958, 1958) to microprocessors (M.E. “Ted” HoffM.E. “Ted” Hoff, 1971, 1971) to networking and the Internet (Vinton CerfVinton Cerf && Robert KahnRobert Kahn, 1982, 1982] to the World Wide Web (Tim Berners-LeeTim Berners-Lee, 1991, 1991) and beyond… Whatever next?…
  33. 33. Acknowledgements (continued on next slide) For one of the best written books on the history of computers, check out Engines of the Mind : The Evolution of the Computer from Mainframes to Microprocessors -- by Joel N. Shurk A movingly beautiful book on Alan Turing is Alan Turing: the Enigma, by Andrew Hodges An excellent, readable book on Cryptography is Simon Singh’s THE CODE BOOK. The Secret History of Codes and Code-Breaking Tutorials on the encryption software PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) can be found at All pictures and some of the information were obtained from various sites on the World Wide Web. Complete list follows: Abacus: Napier: Slide Rules: Pascal’s Pascaline: Leibnitz Stepped Reckoner: Jacquard looms:
  34. 34. Acknowledgements (continued) Charles Babbage: Lady Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace: Electricity: (beautifully written pocket history of electricity & magnetism) Herman Hollerith: Howard Aiken & The Harvard Mark I: Alan Turing: John Vincent Atanasoff: Biographies of Atanasoff and Clifford Berry: J. Presper Eckert: John Mauchly: The patent controversy: ARPANet: Thanks to the following EDTECH listserv colleagues and friends who have reviewed the presentation and provided amendments and additional material for inclusion on the slides and in the notes. Nancy Head, online instructor, Michigan Virtual High School (MVHS), U.S.A., on the web at Mandi Axmann, Instructional Designer, Open Universities Australia