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DEVELOPMENT OF COMPUTERS OVER THE DECADES

A Computer is an electronic device that can receive a set of instructions, or program, and then carry out this program by performing calculations on numerical data or by compiling and correlating other forms of information.
The modern world of high technology could not have come about except for the development of the computer. Different types and sizes of computers find uses throughout society in the storage and handling of data, from secret governmental files to banking transactions to private household accounts. Computers have opened up a new era in manufacturing through the techniques of automation, and they have enhanced modern communication systems. They are essential tools in almost every field of research and applied technology, from constructing models of the universe to producing tomorrow\'s weather reports, and their use has in itself opened up new areas of conjecture. Database services and computer networks make available a great variety of information sources. The same advanced techniques also make possible invasions of privacy and of restricted information sources, but computer crime has become one of the many risks that society must face if it would enjoy the benefits of modern technology. (Gulliver 12-15)
Imagine a world without computers. That would mean no proper means of communicating, no Internet, no video games. Life would be extremely difficult. Adults would have to store all their office work paper and therefore take up an entire room. Teenagers would have to submit course-works and projects hand-written. All graphs and diagrams would have to be drawn neatly and carefully. Youngsters would never have heard of \'video-games\' and will have to spend their free time either reading or playing outside with friends. But thanks to British mathematicians, Augusta Ada Byron and Charles Babbage, our lives are made a lot easier. (Malone 5-6)
There are two main types of computers that are in use today, analog and digital computers, although the term computer is often used to mean only the digital type. Analog computers exploit the mathematical similarity between physical interrelationships in certain problems, and employ electronic or hydraulic circuits to simulate the physical problem. Digital computers solve problems by performing sums and by dealing with each number digit by digit. (Cringley 28-30)
Hybrid computers are those that contain elements of both analog and digital computers. They are usually used for problems in which large numbers of complex equations, known as time integrals, are to be computed. Data in analog form can also be fed into a digital computer by means of an analog- to-digital converter, and the same is true of the reverse situation. (Cringley 31-32)
The French philosopher Blaise Pascal devised the first adding machine, a precursor of the digital computer, in 1642. This device employed a series of ten-toothed wheels, each tooth representing a digit from 0 to 9. The wheels were connected so that numbers could be added to each other by advancing the wheels by a correct number of teeth. In the 1670s the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz improved on this machine by devising one that could also multiply.
The French inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard, in designing an automatic loom, used thin, perforated wooden boards to control the weaving of complicated designs. During the 1880s the American statistician Herman Hollerith conceived the idea of using perforated cards, similar to Jacquard\'s boards, for processing data. Employing a system that passed punched cards over electrical contacts, he was able to compile statistical information for the 1890 U.S. census. (Hazewindus 44-48)
Also in the 19th century, the British mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage worked out the principles of the modern digital computer. He conceived a number of machines, such as the Difference Engine, that were designed to handle complicated mathematical problems. Many historians consider Babbage and his associate, the British mathematician Augusta Ada Byron (Lady Lovelace, 1815-52), the daughter of the English poet Lord Byron, the true inventors of the modern digital computer. The technology of their time was not capable of translating their sound concepts into practice; but one of their inventions, the Analytical Engine, had many features of a modern computer. It had an input stream in the form of a deck of punched cards, a "store" for saving data, a "mill" for arithmetic operations, and a