Computing: A Concise History (The MIT Press Essential by Paul E. Ceruzzi

By Paul E. Ceruzzi

The background of computing may be informed because the tale of and software program, or the tale of the web, or the tale of "smart" handheld units, with subplots related to IBM, Microsoft, Apple, fb, and Twitter. during this concise and obtainable account of the discovery and improvement of electronic know-how, laptop historian Paul Ceruzzi bargains a broader and extra helpful point of view. He identifies 4 significant threads that run all through all of computing's technological improvement: digitization--the coding of data, computation, and keep an eye on in binary shape, ones and zeros; the convergence of a number of streams of ideas, units, and machines, yielding greater than the sum in their elements; the regular improve of digital expertise, as characterised famously via "Moore's Law"; and the human-machine interface. Ceruzzi publications us via computing historical past, telling how a Bell Labs mathematician coined the notice "digital" in 1942 (to describe a high-speed approach to calculating utilized in anti-aircraft devices), and recounting the advance of the punch card (for use within the 1890 U.S. Census). He describes the ENIAC, outfitted for medical and armed forces functions; the UNIVAC, the 1st basic objective laptop; and ARPANET, the Internet's precursor. Ceruzzi's account lines the world-changing evolution of the pc from a room-size ensemble of equipment to a "minicomputer" to a computer computing device to a pocket-sized shrewdpermanent mobile. He describes the improvement of the silicon chip, that may shop ever-increasing quantities of information and enabled ever-decreasing machine dimension. He visits that hotbed of innovation, Silicon Valley, and brings the tale as much as the current with the web, the area huge net, and social networking.

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The ENIAC Much of the work described here involved the aiming of antiaircraft guns or guns mounted on ships. The aiming of large artillery also required computation, and to that end, Bush’s differential analyzer was copied and heavily used to compute firing tables used in the field. Human computers, mostly women, also produced these tables. Neither method was able to keep up with wartime demand. From that need emerged a machine called the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), unveiled to the public in 1946 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering in Philadelphia.

Source: Digital Equipment Corporation, now Hewlett-Packard) (above) Teletypes were used as the main input-output device for the early personal computers, until inexpensive video terminals became available. This piece of Teletype tape contains an interpreter for the BASIC programming language, Microsoft’s first product. (Credit: Smithsonian Institution) The Digital Age 19 address were embossed, from which mailing labels were printed. 10 For many problems, especially those in science or engineering, a person operating a simple Comptometer or calculator could perform arithmetic quite rapidly, but she (and such persons typically were women) would be asked to carry out one sequence if interim results were positive, a different one if negative.

This principle, combined with the invention of high-speed memory devices, provided a practical alternative to the ENIAC’s cumbersome programming. By storing a program and data in a common high-speed memory, not only could programs be executed at electronic speeds; the programs could also be operated on as if they were data— the ancestor of today’s high-level languages compiled inside modern computers. 1 Some accounts called these computers “von Neumann machines,” a misnomer since his report did not fully credit others who contributed to the concept.

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