Influences of Personal Computers Today



Introduction

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, people wanted and needed an easier way of calculating and measuring. Through the dreams of Charles Babbage, the computer was born. These new machines could do any regular math more than twice as fast as any human. Sadly, these ideas were not appreciated until almost one hundred years later.
In the 1950\'s, the idea of computers was broght up again. This is when people finally started crediting Babbage\'s work. The technology available now made it possible for people to construct a digital computer. The idea of building a computer became a necessity when World War II came about. Many important names such as ENIAC and IBM cam about, and computers became a very wide interest in the world.
What influenced personal computers of today?

Computers

The thought of a machine being more intelligent than a mathmetician was laughed at, and thought of as an impossibility. That all changed when Charles Babbage was brought into the world.
Charles Babbage was a mathmetician, engineer, and a future computer designer. He was actually known as the "Grandfather" (Slater 3) of the modern day computer. He was and still is, thought of as ahead of his time.
Charles Babbage entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1810. There he studied mathematics and chemistry. Between 1815 and 1820, he was involved mostly in mathematics, studying algebra.
In 1822, he finally built his first mechanical computer, the Difference Engine. This was the first ever mechanical computer. It could add, subtract, divide, and multiply. He then started working on a more advanced machine in 1834, the Analytical Engine. This would be much more advanced than the Difference Engine. It would be steam powered and fully automatic. This would have been his greatest achievement. Unfortunately, the technology available to him was not advanced enough for Babbage to build, what would have been, the first digital computer. Another reason he never built his Analytical Engine was because
Szczur 3
he almost never completely finished a project, as he was obsessed with perfection.
Charles Babbage died in 1871. Sadly, he was forgotten for seventy years, until the computer revolution. In the 1940\'s, he finally got recognition for his ideas. Some of the first digital computers were in fact very similar to his plans of the Analytical Engine. Technology was indeed very much better in the 1940\'s, a perfect environment for the digital computer to be born.
The vacuum tube was already used widely in all types of electronic devices, including televisions and stereos. When they are activated, however, people found that large numbers of them could represent zeros and ones, which would be computer code. The government was the only place to go to get a grant for this project.
The government at first wanted nothing to do with computers. Basically, computers were thought of as too radical an idea, and that there was no need for them. This view was brought about mostly by the military. However, this view would soon change.
When World War II started, the computer had new hope. New weapons were designed which required trajectory tables for guidance. Also, Russia had detonated an atomic bomb. Tracking enemy and friendly planes as well as guiding missiles
Szczur 4
and bombs to their targets was extremely difficult work for people. And, with the detonation of the Russian atomic bomb, Enemy targets had to be neutralized much quicker. In other words, people were too slow.
A computer would do all of these jobs much quicker and more precise than humans. In 1949, the U.S. Military gave in.
Construction of this new computer was started immediately. When it was finished and operational on September 7, 1952, it was named the ENIAC, meaning Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer. It used 17,468 vacuum tubes, covering three gigantic walls, for data storage. It was very much quicker than any human mathmetician. It could monitor 47 airplanes at once, while performing other various tasks. There was only one major flaw. Every time a new operation was started, all of the tubes had to be reset, which meant they all had to be unplugged and plugged again.
New technology was already being developed which made the ENIAC look sluggish. For this reason, a newer computer was built. In 1945, the EDVAC was operational.