A Brief History of Computers
Although the microcomputer is a very recent development, computers have been around for a long time. A major step in Personal Computer technology was the development in the early 1800s of machines that could be programed.
"Joseph Jacquard developed a loom for weaving cloth whose operation was controlled by means of cards with holes punched in them. In 1886, Herman Hollerith improved on Jacquard's punched card by developing a card that could be used with electrical rather than mechanical equipment. The Hollerith (or IBM) card is still very much in use."
"The first all-electronic computer, based on vacume tubes, was developed in 1946 by J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly of the University of Pennsylvania. This Personal Computer could make calculations a thousand times faster than earlier devices."
In 1944, engineers from IBM and Howard Aiken of Harvard University developed a machine called the Mark I. This 50-foot long and 8-foot high machine was able to add, subtract, multiply and divide, and refer to data tables using punched cards.
In 1947, John von Neumann developed a method for storing programs electronically. This invention of storing programs led the way for the development of today's computers. Before Mr. von Neumann's invention, computers were wired to perform certain tasks. If you wanted to change the task, the computer had to be rewired. Today, we give microcomputers instructions by loading an appropriate software program which contains machine instructions. If we want to make the Personal Computer perform another task, we load another piece of software or depress a function key on the computer to direct the machine to perform the desired task.
Besides becoming more flexable, computers are now much faster, cheaper, and smaller. "In 1952, one of the original IBM computers could perform about 2,000 multiplications per second. By the mid l970s operating speed had increased by more than 2,000 percent,...