The Antikythera mechanism is considered to be the first analog-computing device. This machine was invented to calculate the positions of stars, constellations, and planets. In , the United States Navy created a computer that was small enough they could use it aboard a submarine. This computer was different from its predecessors in that it was electromechanical. Konrad Zuse, a German engineer, developed the first electromechanical programmable digital computer called the Z3.
During WWII , the British used an encryption machine to break German code using Colossus, which was the first electronic digital programmable computer. This computer used vacuum tubes and paper tape to perform specific operations. In , Baby, the first stored-program computer was invented. Other important inventions that led to the modern day computer were the transistor and the integrated circuit.
The bipolar transistor replaced the vacuum tubes that were used in early computers. Transistors were smaller, cooler, more reliable, required less power to run, and lasted longer. The development of the integrated circuit led to the development of the microprocessor, the Intel was the first single-chip microprocessor. College Life. College Admissions. Planning for College.
College Rankings. Social Studies. Computer Research Paper Topics. Informative Speeches on Technology. Business Research Topics and Ideas. Research Paper Topics for Physical Science. About the Author. In , Lord Kelvin had already discussed the possible construction of such calculators, but he had been stymied by the limited output torque of the ball-and-disk integrators. The torque amplifier was the advance that allowed these machines to work.
Starting in the s, Vannevar Bush and others developed mechanical differential analyzers. Charles Babbage , an English mechanical engineer and polymath , originated the concept of a programmable computer. Considered the " father of the computer ",  he conceptualized and invented the first mechanical computer in the early 19th century.
After working on his revolutionary difference engine , designed to aid in navigational calculations, in he realized that a much more general design, an Analytical Engine , was possible. The input of programs and data was to be provided to the machine via punched cards , a method being used at the time to direct mechanical looms such as the Jacquard loom.
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For output, the machine would have a printer, a curve plotter and a bell. The machine would also be able to punch numbers onto cards to be read in later. The Engine incorporated an arithmetic logic unit , control flow in the form of conditional branching and loops , and integrated memory , making it the first design for a general-purpose computer that could be described in modern terms as Turing-complete. The machine was about a century ahead of its time. Eventually, the project was dissolved with the decision of the British Government to cease funding. Babbage's failure to complete the analytical engine can be chiefly attributed to political and financial difficulties as well as his desire to develop an increasingly sophisticated computer and to move ahead faster than anyone else could follow.
Nevertheless, his son, Henry Babbage, completed a simplified version of the analytical engine's computing unit the mill in He gave a successful demonstration of its use in computing tables in During the first half of the 20th century, many scientific computing needs were met by increasingly sophisticated analog computers , which used a direct mechanical or electrical model of the problem as a basis for computation. However, these were not programmable and generally lacked the versatility and accuracy of modern digital computers.
The differential analyser , a mechanical analog computer designed to solve differential equations by integration using wheel-and-disc mechanisms, was conceptualized in by James Thomson , the brother of the more famous Lord Kelvin. The art of mechanical analog computing reached its zenith with the differential analyzer , built by H. This built on the mechanical integrators of James Thomson and the torque amplifiers invented by H.
A dozen of these devices were built before their obsolescence became obvious. By the s, the success of digital electronic computers had spelled the end for most analog computing machines, but analog computers remained in use during the s in some specialized applications such as education control systems and aircraft slide rule. By , the United States Navy had developed an electromechanical analog computer small enough to use aboard a submarine. This was the Torpedo Data Computer , which used trigonometry to solve the problem of firing a torpedo at a moving target.
During World War II similar devices were developed in other countries as well.
The History Of Computers
Early digital computers were electromechanical; electric switches drove mechanical relays to perform the calculation. These devices had a low operating speed and were eventually superseded by much faster all-electric computers, originally using vacuum tubes. The Z2 , created by German engineer Konrad Zuse in , was one of the earliest examples of an electromechanical relay computer. In , Zuse followed his earlier machine up with the Z3 , the world's first working electromechanical programmable , fully automatic digital computer.
It was quite similar to modern machines in some respects, pioneering numerous advances such as floating point numbers. Rather than the harder-to-implement decimal system used in Charles Babbage 's earlier design , using a binary system meant that Zuse's machines were easier to build and potentially more reliable, given the technologies available at that time.
Purely electronic circuit elements soon replaced their mechanical and electromechanical equivalents, at the same time that digital calculation replaced analog.
The engineer Tommy Flowers , working at the Post Office Research Station in London in the s, began to explore the possible use of electronics for the telephone exchange. Experimental equipment that he built in went into operation five years later, converting a portion of the telephone exchange network into an electronic data processing system, using thousands of vacuum tubes. The German encryption machine, Enigma , was first attacked with the help of the electro-mechanical bombes which were often run by women.
Colossus was the world's first electronic digital programmable computer. It had paper-tape input and was capable of being configured to perform a variety of boolean logical operations on its data, but it was not Turing-complete. Colossus Mark I contained 1, thermionic valves tubes , but Mark II with 2, valves, was both 5 times faster and simpler to operate than Mark I, greatly speeding the decoding process.
Like the Colossus, a "program" on the ENIAC was defined by the states of its patch cables and switches, a far cry from the stored program electronic machines that came later. Once a program was written, it had to be mechanically set into the machine with manual resetting of plugs and switches. It combined the high speed of electronics with the ability to be programmed for many complex problems.
It could add or subtract times a second, a thousand times faster than any other machine. It also had modules to multiply, divide, and square root. High speed memory was limited to 20 words about 80 bytes. Built under the direction of John Mauchly and J.
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The machine was huge, weighing 30 tons, using kilowatts of electric power and contained over 18, vacuum tubes, 1, relays, and hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors. The principle of the modern computer was proposed by Alan Turing in his seminal paper,  On Computable Numbers. Turing proposed a simple device that he called "Universal Computing machine" and that is now known as a universal Turing machine. He proved that such a machine is capable of computing anything that is computable by executing instructions program stored on tape, allowing the machine to be programmable.
The fundamental concept of Turing's design is the stored program , where all the instructions for computing are stored in memory. Von Neumann acknowledged that the central concept of the modern computer was due to this paper. Except for the limitations imposed by their finite memory stores, modern computers are said to be Turing-complete , which is to say, they have algorithm execution capability equivalent to a universal Turing machine. Early computing machines had fixed programs. Changing its function required the re-wiring and re-structuring of the machine.
A stored-program computer includes by design an instruction set and can store in memory a set of instructions a program that details the computation. The theoretical basis for the stored-program computer was laid by Alan Turing in his paper. In , Turing joined the National Physical Laboratory and began work on developing an electronic stored-program digital computer. His report "Proposed Electronic Calculator" was the first specification for such a device.
The Manchester Baby was the world's first stored-program computer. Grace Hopper was the first person to develop a compiler for programming language. The Mark 1 in turn quickly became the prototype for the Ferranti Mark 1 , the world's first commercially available general-purpose computer. At least seven of these later machines were delivered between and , one of them to Shell labs in Amsterdam. The LEO I computer became operational in April  and ran the world's first regular routine office computer job. The concept of a field-effect transistor was proposed by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in John Bardeen and Walter Brattain , while working under William Shockley at Bell Labs , built the first working transistor , the point-contact transistor , in , which was followed by Shockley's bipolar junction transistor in Compared to vacuum tubes, transistors have many advantages: they are smaller, and require less power than vacuum tubes, so give off less heat.
Junction transistors were much more reliable than vacuum tubes and had longer, indefinite, service life. Transistorized computers could contain tens of thousands of binary logic circuits in a relatively compact space. However, early junction transistors were relatively bulky devices that were difficult to manufacture on a mass-production basis, which limited them to a number of specialised applications.
At the University of Manchester , a team under the leadership of Tom Kilburn designed and built a machine using the newly developed transistors instead of valves. Atalla and Dawon Kahng at Bell Labs in The next great advance in computing power came with the advent of the integrated circuit IC.
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The idea of the integrated circuit was first conceived by a radar scientist working for the Royal Radar Establishment of the Ministry of Defence , Geoffrey W. Noyce also came up with his own idea of an integrated circuit half a year later than Kilby.