Computers Not The Greatest Invention Of The 20 Th Century


“Computers: Not the Greatest Discovery of the Twentieth Century”
Nothing epitomizes modern life better than the computer. For better or worse, computers have infiltrated every aspect of our society. Today, computers do much more than simply compute. Supermarket scanners calculate our grocery bill while keeping store inventory, computerized telephone switching centers play traffic cop to millions of calls and keep lines of communication untangled, and automatic teller machines let us conduct banking transactions from virtually anywhere in the world. But where did all this technology come from and where is it heading? To fully understand and appreciate the impact computers ...

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nearly 12 centuries, however, for the next significant advance in computing devices to emerge. In 1642, Blaise Pascal, the 18-year-old son of a French tax collector invented what he called a numerical wheel calculator to help his father with his duties. This brass rectangular box, also called a Pascaline, used eight movable dials to add sums up to eight figures long. Pascal's device used a base of ten to accomplish this. For example, as one dial moved ten notches, or one complete revolution, it moved the next dial - which represented the ten's column - one place. When the ten's dial moved one revolution, the dial representing the hundred's place moved one notch and so on. The drawback to the Pascaline, of course, was its limitation to addition.
In 1694, a German mathematician and philosopher, Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz, improved the Pascaline by creating a machine that could also multiply. Like its predecessor, Leibniz's mechanical multiplier worked by a system of gears ...

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tasks repeatedly without mistake; while mathematics, particularly the production of mathematic tables, often required the simple repetition of steps. The problem centered on applying the ability of machines to the needs of mathematics. Babbage's first attempt at solving this problem was in 1822 when he proposed a machine to perform differential equations, called a Difference Engine. Powered by steam and large as a locomotive, the machine would have a stored program and could perform calculations and print the results automatically. After working on the Difference Engine for 10 years, Babbage was suddenly inspired to begin work on the first general-purpose computer, which he ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 10/4/2005 10:12:20 PM
Category: Technology
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 3455
Pages: 13

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