Introduction to Computer Application

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HISTORY OF THE COMPUTER ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: ADEBOWALE ONIFADE ELECTRICAL ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN NIGERIA REGION 8 HISTORY OF THE COMPUTER ABSTRACT This paper takes a keen look at the history of computer technology with a view to encouraging computer or electrical electronic engineering students to embrace and learn the history of their profession and its technologies. Reedy (1984) quoted Aldous Huxley thus: “that men do not learn very much from the lessons of his
  HISTORY OF THE COMPUTER ARTICLE WRITTEN BY:ADEBOWALE ONIFADEELECTRICAL ELECTRONICENGINEERING DEPARTMENTUNIVERSITY OF IBADANNIGERIAREGION 8 HISTORY OF THE COMPUTER   ABSTRACT This paper takes a keen look at the history of computer technology with a view to encouragingcomputer or electrical electronic engineering students to embrace and learn the history of their  profession and its technologies. Reedy (1984) quoted Aldous Huxley thus: “that men do not learnvery much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has toteach.” This paper therefore emphasizes the need to study history of the computer because a proper study and understanding of the evolution of computers will undoubtedly help to greatly improve oncomputer technologies. INTRODUCTION The word ‘computer’ is an old word that has changed its meaning several times in the last fewcenturies. Originating from the Latin, by the mid-17th century it meant ‘someone who computes’.The American Heritage Dictionary (1980) gives its first computer definition as “a person whocomputes.” The computer remained associated with human activity until about the middle of the 20 th century when it became applied to “a programmable electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data” as Webster’s Dictionary (1980) defines it. Today, the word computer refers tocomputing devices, whether or not they are electronic, programmable, or capable of ‘storing andretrieving’ data.The Techencyclopedia (2003) defines computer as “a general purpose machine that processes dataaccording to a set of instructions that are stored internally either temporarily or permanently.” Thecomputer and all equipment attached to it are called hardware. The instructions that tell it what to doare called software or “program”. A program is a detailed set of humanly prepared instructions thatdirects the computer to function in specific ways. Furthermore, the Encyclopedia Britannica (2003)defines computers as “the contribution of major individuals, machines, and ideas to the developmentof computing.” This implies that 2  the computer is a system. A system is a group of computer components that work together as a unitto perform a common objective.The term ‘history’ means past events. The encyclopedia Britannica (2003) defines it as “thediscipline that studies the chronological record of events (as affecting a nation or people), based on acritical examination of source materials and usually presenting an explanation of their causes.” TheOxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (1995) simply defines history as “the study of past events.…” In discussing the history of computers, chronological record of events – particularly in the areaof technological development – will be explained. History of computer in the area of technologicaldevelopment is being considered because it is usually the technological advancement in computersthat brings about economic and social advancement. A faster computer brings about faster operationand that in turn causes an economic development. This paper will discuss classes of computers,computer evolution and highlight some roles played by individuals in these developments. CLASSIFICATION OF COMPUTERS Computing machines can be classified in many ways and these classifications depend on their functions and definitions. They can be classified by the technology from which they wereconstructed, the uses to which they are put, their capacity or size, the era in which they were used,their basic operating principle and by the kinds of data they process. Some of these classificationtechniques are discussed as follows: Classification by Technology This classification is a historical one and it is based on what performs the computer operation, or thetechnology behind the computing skill. 3  I FLESH: Before the advent of any kind of computing device at all, human beings performedcomputation by themselves. This involved the use of fingers, toes and any other part of the body.II WOOD: Wood became a computing device when it was first used to design the abacus. Shickardin 1621 and Polini in 1709 were both instrumental to this development.III METALS: Metals were used in the early machines of Pascal, Thomas, and the productionversions from firms such as Brundsviga, Monroe, etcIV ELECTROMECHANICAL DEVICES: As differential analyzers, these were present in the earlymachines of Zuse, Aiken, Stibitz and many othersV ELECTRONIC ELEMENTS: These were used in the Colossus, ABC, ENIAC, and the stored program computers.This classification really does not apply to developments in the last sixty years because several kindsof new electro technological devices have been used thereafter. Classification by Capacity Computers can be classified according to their capacity. The term ‘capacity’ refers to the volume of work or the data processing capability a computer can handle. Their performance is determined bythe amount of data that can be stored in memory, speed of internal operation of the computer, number and type of peripheral devices, amount and type of software available for use with the computer.The capacity of early generation computers was determined by their physical size - the larger thesize, the greater the volume. Recent computer technology however is tending to create smaller machines, making it possible to package equivalent speed and capacity in a smaller format.Computer capacity is currently measured by the number of applications that it can 4
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