A Computer is an electric device which receives processes and stores information by following specific rules and performs different arithmetic calculations. Computers have become a very essential part of living in today’s world. They provide relief from certain manual work, entertainment, access to a wide range of information and lots more. Computers have been around for over forty years. From then to now there has been much advancement made by key persons in computer technology. As a result, there have been four generations of computer technology and we are presently apart of contributing to the fifth generation.
Long before the first generation, however, the thought and the use of the word computer was mentioned as far back as the sixteenth century. It started with the introduction of the abacus and Napier’s bones which allowed individuals to multiply divide and calculate square and cube roots. The quest for devices and automations continued when the slide rule by William Oughtred was introduced in 1622. Mr.Blaise Pascal invented what computer majors call the Pascaline for his father who was a tax collector. The Pascaline, however, was too expensive and had limitations for adding and subtracting. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in 1672 then created the Stepped Reckoner an automatic machine that was responsible for adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.
George Boole was known for his intellect and introduction of algorithms in algebraic language. “He revolutionized logic by applying methods from the then-emerging field of symbolic algebra to logic. Where traditional (Aristotelian) logic relied on cataloguing the valid syllogisms of various simple forms, Boole’s method provided general algorithms in an algebraic language which applied to an infinite variety of arguments of arbitrary complexity.
These results appeared in two major works, The Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847) and The Laws of Thought (1854).” Cited from Mr Jacquard Loom invented the Mechanical loom in 1881 which was controlled by punch cards. The first mechanical or analytical computer was then invented by Charles Baggage. He designed a mechanical calculator that tabulated polynomial functions. A Polynomial function explains that constants, variables, and exponents can be combined by using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Ada Lovelace continued the work of Baggage by suggesting and writing programmes for his Analytical engine. She used the binary system to achieve this. Ada Lovelace is known as the first computer programmer. The Scheutzian Calculation engine which was the first printing calculator was invented by Per Georg Scheutz. John Von Neumann is known for his basic computer architecture which is used on many computers.
He also published a few papers which led to some concepts in Computer Technology namely Von Neumann stored- program computer concept, von Neumann architecture and Princeton architecture. The types of Von Neumann computers are the workstations, laptops, supercomputers and personal computers. Von Neumann’s computers were successful because he made lots of advancements in Hardware and Software Technology Computer Science, Engineering, standardization, a strong organization and Computer Architecture.
Von Neumann’s basic computer’s performance was also influenced by the separation of CPU and the memory. Herman Hollerith invented the Tabulating Machine. The machined helped in accounting. This was inspired by Charles Baggage.
Grace Hopper is known as a pioneer in computing. She began the work on the Harvard Mark 1 which she was joined later on by Howard Aiken. The Mark one facilitated addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The computer was built from clutches, rotating shafts, relays. Punched tape was used instead of punch cards. Grace Hopper being the first programmer invented what is known a Flow-Matic which was later named COBOL after further advancement. She also built the first compiler and found the first computer bug.
This bug was an actually Bug! It was a moth blocking reading of the holes on the punch tape. This term is still being used to as it represents anything that disturbs the complete functioning of a computer program. These inventions by Hopper and Aiken influenced computer technology greatly. Some believe that without such advancements in computer science, computer technology could have matured into what it is today. Stephen/Steve Jobs has been placed in Computer History books as the Co-founder of a very famous company today which is the Apple Company.
Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak collaborated efforts with Ronald Wayne, into designing and marketing the Apple 1 and 2 computers. Wozniak, however, was the brain behind the Apple computer, as he had already designed and put into personal use. Jobs, however, made his computer marketable and ended up being left out when the invention is being discussed. Stephen Jobs and Stephen Wozniak also produced the Macintosh which allowed the graphic user interface to become popular.
Bill Gates riches succeeded his contribution in computer technology. Bill Gates revolutionized the computer industry with his user-friendly interface and designing a user-friendly program. In 1998 the invention Microsoft came about. Since a young boy, Gates loved to write codes and it was this love that allowed him to create Microsoft which was very successful due to lack of competition. Microsoft 3.1 was the first worldly recognised version of windows.
Other important persons in the history of Computer technology included Gary Thuerk (1978), Time Berners-Lee (1990), Konrad Zuse (1936 – 1938) and Professor Atanasoff-Berry. Gary Thuerk made the first commercial spam message. Tim Berners-Lee developed a global web. This web interconnected documents which were recognised when Netscape develop the web browser. The first programmable Computer, the Z1 was created by Konrad Zuse. Atanasoff created the first Electronic Digital computing device.
1940-1956During the first generation computers could only understand binary or hexadecimal instructions at the lowest level. Input was done using punch cards and out was shown on a printout. Existing among the first large-scale computers were the Eniac (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) which was the world’s first general computer by John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly, Edvac (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) by John Von Neumann which used binary instead decimal like the Eniac and the Univac (Universal Automatic Computer) the world’s first commercially produced computer also by John Presper Eckert.
These three computers were built using vacuum tubes. Grace Hopper helped to revolutionize the first generation with her incredible contribution to computer science and technology with the IBMs. Words used to summarize the first generation of computers are expensive, large models, somewhat unreliable and performing slowly.
From 1956 to 1963 the second generation of computer technology had begun. The advancements in the second generation include the change from vacuums tubes to transistors. Transistors simply put are little electronic devices which can perform two duties as either an amplifier or and switch independently. One transistor replaced approximately 40 vacuums’. Transistors produced more power, were more reliable and easier to maintain as they were much smaller. Computers of the second generation still relied heavily on the use of punch cards however they were the first computers to have stored memory which pushed them from magnetic drums to magnetic core technology.
1959-1971Greatly surpassing the second generation was the third generation from 1959- 1971 with the creation of the integrated circuit or the chip as it is commonly called. The integrated circuit consisted of a set of circuits containing fabricated resistors, capacitors and transistors. The transistors were made smaller producing much more efficiency and power. These computers were also reduced in size and became much cheaper than computers from previous generations.
The speed also increased in this generation. Never before had computers been approachable by a large crowd before the third generation. Users were now able to interact with computers through keyboards, monitors and an operating system. This operating system allowed different applications to run at the same time. The memory of such a computer was monitored by the central program.
What if there was a way to put more than one integrated transistor on a silicon chip? The fourth generation from 1971 to present took on this thought and made it a reality by producing what we know today as the microprocessor. This enabled computers to become even more powerful and allow them to form links which eventually formed networks. These networks jump-started the development of the internet. The graphic user face was also introduced in the fourth generation along the mouse and some other handheld devices.
The fifth generation of computers is still under development at present and is expected to grow by leaps and bounds. This generation focuses on artificial intelligence which makes possible such applications such as voice recognition and others. The ultimate goal of this generation is to have devices that respond to natural language input and are able to organize themselves. The fifth generation has different types of computers such as desktops, notebooks, mainframe and supercomputers.
There were many persons who contributed greatly to the tremendous advancements in computer technology. With these persons and their great inventions, and either major or minor contributions to terms, concepts soft and hardware in computer technology, our generation would not be as advanced. It is predicted that as technology continues to advance we have smart clothes and shoes, devices that recognise simply gestures, flying cars and even more advanced computers. In a few cases, there were some persons who lost their lives for the advancement of computer technology. This was due to the overproduction of radiation.