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HISTORY OF A COMPUTER



A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COMPUTER
The computer as we know it today had its beginning with a 19th century English mathematics professor name Charles Babbage.
He designed the Analytical Engine and it was this design that the basic framework of the computers of today are based on.
Generally speaking, computers can be classified into three generations. Each generation lasted for a certain period of
time,and each gave us either a new and improved computer or an improvement to the existing computer.
First generation: 1937 – 1946 - In 1937 the first electronic digital computer was built by Dr. John V. Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. It was called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC). In 1943 an electronic computer name the Colossus was built for the military. Other developments continued until in 1946 the first general– purpose digital computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was built. It is said that this computer weighed 30 tons, and had 18,000 vacuum tubes which was used for processing. When this computer was turned on for the first time lights dim in sections of Philadelphia. Computers of this generation could only perform single task, and they had no operating system.
Second generation: 1947 – 1962 - This generation of computers used transistors instead of vacuum tubes which were more reliable. In 1951 the first computer for commercial use was introduced to the public; the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC 1). In 1953 the International Business Machine (IBM) 650 and 700 series computers made their mark in the computer world. During this generation of computers over 100 computer programming languages were developed, computers had memory and operating systems. Storage media such as tape and disk were in use also were printers for output.
Third generation: 1963 - present - The invention of integrated circuit brought us the third generation of computers. With this invention computers became smaller, more powerful more reliable and they are able to run many different programs at the same time. In1980 Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-Dos) was born and in 1981 IBM introduced the personal computer (PC) for home and office use. Three years later Apple gave us the Macintosh computer with its icon driven interface and the 90s gave us Windows operating system.
As a result of the various improvements to the development of the computer we have seen the computer being used in all areas of life. It is a very useful tool that will continue to experience new development as time passes.
Computers and computer applications are on almost every aspect of our daily lives. As like many ordinary objects around us, we may need clearer understanding of what they are. You may ask "What is a computer?" or "What is a software", or "What is a programming language?" First, let's examine the history.
1.      The history of computers starts out about 2000 years ago in Babylonia (Mesopotamia), at the birth of the abacus, a wooden rack holding two horizontal wires with beads strung on them.
Blaise Pascal is usually credited for building the first digital computer in 1642. It added numbers entered with dials and was made to help his father, a tax collector.
The basic principle of his calculator is still used today in water meters and modern-day odometers. Instead of having a carriage wheel turn the gear, he made each ten-teeth wheel accessible to be turned directly by a person's hand (later inventors added keys and a crank), with the result that when the wheels were turned in the proper sequences, a series of numbers was entered and a cumulative sum was obtained. The gear train supplied a mechanical answer equal to the answer that is obtained by using arithmetic.

·  This first mechanical calculator, called the Pascaline, had several disadvantages. Although it did offer a substantial improvement over manual calculations, only Pascal himself could repair the device and it cost more than the people it replaced! In addition, the first signs of technophobia emerged with mathematicians fearing the loss of their jobs due to progress.
·  A step towards automated computing was the development of punched cards, which were first successfully used with computers in 1890 by Herman Hollerith and James Powers, who worked for the US. Census Bureau. They developed devices that could read the information that had been punched into the cards automatically, without human help. Because of this, reading errors were reduced dramatically, work flow increased, and, most importantly, stacks of punched cards could be used as easily accessible memory of almost unlimited size. Furthermore, different problems could be stored on different stacks of cards and accessed when needed.
· These advantages were seen by commercial companies and soon led to the development of improved punch-card using computers created by International Business Machines (IBM), Remington (yes, the same people that make shavers), Burroughs, and other corporations. These computers used electromechanical devices in which electrical power provided mechanical motion -- like turning the wheels of an adding machine. Such systems included features to:
·         feed in a specified number of cards automatically
·         add, multiply, and sort
·         feed out cards with punched results
· The start of World War II produced a large need for computer capacity, especially for the military. New weapons were made for which trajectory tables and other essential data were needed. In 1942, John P. Eckert, John W. Mauchly, and their associates at the Moore school of Electrical Engineering of University of Pennsylvania decided to build a high - speed electronic computer to do the job. This machine became known as ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integrator And Calculator)
·  wo men (in uniform) being trained to maintain the ENIAC computer. The two women in the photo were programmers. The ENIAC occupied the entire thirty by fifty feet room.
The size of ENIACs numerical "word" was 10 decimal digits, and it could multiply two of these numbers at a rate of 300 per second, by finding the value of each product from a multiplication table stored in its memory. ENIAC was therefore about 1,000 times faster then the previous generation of relay computers. ENIAC used 18,000 vacuum tubes, about 1,800 square feet of floor space, and consumed about 180,000 watts of electrical power. It had punched card I/O, 1 multiplier, 1 divider/square rooter, and 20 adders using decimal ring counters, which served as adders and also as quick-access (.0002 seconds) read-write register storage. The executable instructions making up a program were embodied in the separate "units" of ENIAC, which were plugged together to form a "route" for the flow of information.
· Early in the 50s two important engineering discoveries changed the image of the electronic - computer field, from one of fast but unreliable hardware to an image of relatively high reliability and even more capability. These discoveries were the magnetic core memory and the Transistor - Circuit Element.
These technical discoveries quickly found their way into new models of digital computers. RAM capacities increased from 8,000 to 64,000 words in commercially available machines by the 1960
s, with access times of 2 to 3 MS (Milliseconds). These machines were very expensive to purchase or even to rent and were particularly expensive to operate because of the cost of expanding programming. Such computers were mostly found in large computer centers operated by industry, government, and private laboratories - staffed with many programmers and support personnel. This situation led to modes of operation enabling the sharing of the high potential available.
·  Many companies, such as Apple Computer and Radio Shack, introduced very successful PCs in the 1970's, encouraged in part by a fad in computer (video) games. In the 1980's some friction occurred in the crowded PC field, with Apple and IBM keeping strong. In the manufacturing of semiconductor chips, the Intel and Motorola Corporations were very competitive into the 1980s, although Japanese firms were making strong economic advances, especially in the area of memory chips. By the late 1980s, some personal computers were run by microprocessors that, handling 32 bits of data at a time, could process about 4,000,000 instructions per second.

THE GENERATIONS OF COMPUTERS

It used to be quite popular to refer to computers as belonging to one of several "generations" of computer. These generations are:-
THE FIRST GENERATION (1943-1958):
This generation is often described as starting with the delivery of the first commercial computer to a business client. This happened in 1951 with the delivery of the UNIVAC to the US Bureau of the Census. This generation lasted until about the end of the 1950's (although some stayed in operation much longer than that). The main defining feature of the first generation of computers was that vacuum tubes were used as internal computer components. Vacuum tubes are generally about 5-10 centimeters in length and the large numbers of them required in computers resulted in huge and extremely expensive machines that often broke down (as tubes failed).
The Second Generation (1959-1964): In the mid-1950's Bell Labs developed the transistor. Transistors were capable of performing many of the same tasks as vacuum tubes but were only a fraction of the size. The first transistor-based computer was produced in 1959. Transistors were not only smaller, enabling computer size to be reduced, but they were faster, more reliable and consumed less electricity.
The other main improvement of this period was the development of computer languages. Assembler languages or symbolic languages allowed programmers to specify instructions in words (albeit very cryptic words) which were then translated into a form that the machines could understand (typically series of 0's and 1's: Binary code). Higher level languages also came into being during this period. Whereas assembler languages had a one-to-one correspondence between their symbols and actual machine functions, higher level language commands often represent complex sequences of machine codes. Two higher-level languages developed during this period (Fortran and Cobol) are still in use today though in a much more developed form.
The Third Generation (1965-1970): In 1965 the first integrated circuit (IC) was developed in which a complete circuit of hundreds of components were able to be placed on a single silicon chip 2 or 3 mm square. Computers using these IC's soon replaced transistor based machines. Again, one of the major advantages was size, with computers becoming more powerful and at the same time much smaller and cheaper. Computers thus became accessible to a much larger audience. An added advantage of smaller size is that electrical signals have much shorter distances to travel and so the speed of computers increased.
Another feature of this period is that computer software became much more powerful and flexible and for the first time more than one program could share the computer's resources at the same time (multi-tasking). The majority of programming languages used today are often referred to as 3GL's (3rd generation languages) even though some of them originated during the 2nd generation.
The Fourth Generation (1971-present): The boundary between the third and fourth generations is not very clear-cut at all. Most of the developments since the mid 1960's can be seen as part of a continuum of gradual miniaturization. In 1970 large-scale integration was achieved where the equivalent of thousands of integrated circuits were crammed onto a single silicon chip. This development again increased computer performance (especially reliability and speed) whilst reducing computer size and cost. Around this time the first complete general-purpose microprocessor became available on a single chip. In 1975 Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) took the process one step further. Complete computer central processors could now be built into one chip. The microcomputer was born. Such chips are far more powerful than ENIAC and are only about 1cm square whilst ENIAC filled a large building.
During this period
Fourth Generation Languages (4GL's) have come into existence. Such languages are a step further removed from the computer hardware in that they use language much like natural language. Many database languages can be described as 4GL's. They are generally much easier to learn than are 3GL's.
THE FIFTH GENERATION (THE FUTURE): The "fifth generation" of computers were defined by the Japanese government in 1980 when they unveiled an optimistic ten-year plan to produce the next generation of computers. This was an interesting plan for two reasons. Firstly, it is not at all really clear what the fourth generation is, or even whether the third generation had finished yet. Secondly, it was an attempt to define a generation of computers before they had come into existence. The main requirements of the 5G machines was that they incorporate the features of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, EXPERT SYSTEMS, AND NATURAL LANGUAGE. The goal was to produce machines that are capable of performing tasks in similar ways to humans, are capable of learning, and are capable of interacting with humans in natural language and preferably using both speech input (speech recognition) and speech output (speech synthesis). Such goals are obviously of interest to linguists and speech scientists as natural language and speech processing are key components of the definition. As you may have guessed, this goal has not yet been fully realised, although significant progress has been made towards various aspects of these goals.

HOW TO CREATE AN EMAIL:

How to create a Gmail account

'Google mail' or ‘Gmail‘ is a web-based email account in which emails are stored on the internet rather than on your computer. Internet email can be a flexible option as you can access emails from any computer that has internet access – for example, at internet caf├ęs – anywhere in the world.
In this guide, we’re going to show you how to get started with email by creating an account in Gmail.

NB. We are using Chrome as our browser, however other browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox will look similar. 

You’ll need:

  • a computer with internet access.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to create a Gmail account

Step 1: Open up your internet browser and go to the Google home page: http://www.google.co.uk.

Step 2: Click on Gmail at the top right corner of the page.


Step 3: You’ll now be in the ‘Sign in’ section. As you don’t have a Google account yet, you need to create one. Click Create an account.
  

Step 4: To set up your new account, Google needs some information about you – first, your first and last names. The ‘choose your username’ is the unique email address that you wish to use, which will be placed before ‘@gmail.com’. Because it needs to be unique, Google may have to check the availability of any name that you decide on to make sure that no one already has it. Type an email name into the ‘choose your username’ box and then fill out the rest of your information. You will need to ensure that the ‘I agree to the Google terms of service and Privacy Policy’ is ticked. Then click next step.

Step 5: If the email name that you requested in is not available, you’ll get a message saying that somebody already has that username and offering you some alternatives. You can decide to accept one of the alternatives or type in another name and check its availability once more. You will have to complete some of the other boxes again. You may have to do this a few times. Once you finalise your email address, it’s a good idea to make a note of it so that you can refer to it until you remember it.
  

Step 6: You’ll need to come up with a password so that you can log in securely to your account. Google may explain that you should try one with at least 8 characters long to be secure. Use letters and numbers to make the password more secure and difficult to guess. You’ll need to re-enter your password to ensure that it’s you choosing it and not a hacker’s (ro)bot. This is why it also asks you to insert two random words at the bottom of the page – this is a CAPTCHA code. You can skip this step if you don’t want to type in the CAPTCHA code but you will need to verify via a mobile phone if you don’t.



Step 7: Once you have completed this page fully, clicking Next Step will take you to the Create Profile Page. If you don’t wish to have a picture on the web, click Next Step to complete setting up your email. If you do, Click on Add Profile Photo and find a photo to add. Then click Next Step.

Step 8: You will now have set up your account. You can go straight to your inbox and get started, or you can set up a photo to show as your profile picture.
Click on Add a photo to upload a photo and select a photo.
 

Or click on Next Step to go to your inbox and get started.
 Attaching files to a Gmail e-mail
  1. Log into your Gmail account at http://www.gmail.com.
  2. Click the Compose link in the left Navigation pane.
  3. Click the paperclip icon, titled Attach files, at the bottom of the New Message window.
  4. Locate the file you want to attach, select it and click Open.
If the attachment is successful, you should see a link and usually an icon with the file name(s) in your message. Once you're ready to send the message, click the Send button.

Comments

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