Essay on history of computers


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Generations of Computer - Computer Fundamental CLASS (2018)

Can't find the historical article you need? We'll scan it for you. Find out more. Architecture and the Computer: A Contested History. Full screen. References 1. You might also like Details of the later machines and of the Special Attachment, the uses to which the Colossi were put, and the cryptanalytic algorithms that they ran, have only recently been declassified. For the full account of Colossus and the attack on Tunny see Copeland To those acquainted with the universal Turing machine of , and the associated stored-program concept, Flowers' racks of digital electronic equipment were proof of the feasibility of using large numbers of vacuum tubes to implement a high-speed general-purpose stored-program computer.

A few months after his arrival at Manchester, Newman wrote as follows to the Princeton mathematician John von Neumann February :. Turing and Newman were thinking along similar lines. In Turing joined the National Physical Laboratory NPL in London, his brief to design and develop an electronic stored-program digital computer for scientific work. The report is reprinted in full in Copeland The first electronic stored-program digital computer to be proposed in the U.

Turing saw that speed and memory were the keys to computing. Turing's design had much in common with today's RISC architectures and it called for a high-speed memory of roughly the same capacity as an early Macintosh computer enormous by the standards of his day. Had Turing's ACE been built as planned it would have been in a different league from the other early computers. It was not until May that a small pilot model of the Automatic Computing Engine, built by Wilkinson, Edward Newman, Mike Woodger, and others, first executed a program.

The G15 was arguably the first personal computer; over were sold worldwide. More information about these early computers is given in [Copeland ].

Evolution Of Computers Essay Examples

The earliest general-purpose stored-program electronic digital computer to work was built in Newman's Computing Machine Laboratory at Manchester University. Williams and Tom Kilburn, and performed its first calculation on 21 June The tiny program, stored on the face of a cathode ray tube, was just seventeen instructions long. A much enlarged version of the machine, with a programming system designed by Turing, became the world's first commercially available computer, the Ferranti Mark I. The first to be completed was installed at Manchester University in February ; in all about ten were sold, in Britain, Canada, Holland and Italy.

The fundamental logico-mathematical contributions by Turing and Newman to the triumph at Manchester have been neglected, and the Manchester machine is nowadays remembered as the work of Williams and Kilburn. Indeed, Newman's role in the development of computers has never been sufficiently emphasised due perhaps to his thoroughly self-effacing way of relating the relevant events. It was Newman who, in a lecture in Cambridge in , introduced Turing to the concept that led directly to the Turing machine: Newman defined a constructive process as one that a machine can carry out Newman in interview with Evans, op.

During the building of Colossus, Newman tried to interest Flowers in Turing's paper — birthplace of the stored-program concept - but Flowers did not make much of Turing's arcane notation. There is no doubt that by , Newman had firmly in mind the idea of using electronic technology in order to construct a stored-program general-purpose digital computing machine. In July of the month in which the Royal Society approved Newman's application for funds to found the Computing Machine Laboratory , Freddie Williams, working at the Telecommunications Research Establishment, Malvern, began the series of experiments on cathode ray tube storage that was to lead to the Williams tube memory.

The Brief History of Computer Architecture

Williams, until then a radar engineer, explains how it was that he came to be working on the problem of computer memory:. Newman learned of Williams' work, and with the able help of Patrick Blackett, Langworthy Professor of Physics at Manchester and one of the most powerful figures in the University, was instrumental in the appointment of the 35 year old Williams to the recently vacated Chair of Electro-Technics at Manchester.

Both were members of the appointing committee Kilburn in interview with Copeland, Williams immediately had Kilburn, his assistant at Malvern, seconded to Manchester. To take up the story in Williams' own words:. Elsewhere Williams is explicit concerning Turing's role and gives something of the flavour of the explanation that he and Kilburn received:.

It seems that Newman must have used much the same words with Williams and Kilburn as he did in an address to the Royal Society on 4th March He then summed up:. In a letter written in Williams described in some detail what he and Kilburn were told by Newman:.

A Very Short History of Computer Ethics ( Text Only) - The Research Center on Computing & Society

Turing's early input to the developments at Manchester, hinted at by Williams in his above-quoted reference to Turing, may have been via the lectures on computer design that Turing and Wilkinson gave in London during the period December to February Turing and Wilkinson [—7]. The lectures were attended by representatives of various organisations planning to use or build an electronic computer.


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Kilburn was in the audience Bowker and Giordano []. Strachey at the time a teacher at Harrow School and an amateur programmer wrote the program with Turing's encouragement and utilising the latter's recently completed Programmers' Handbook for the Ferranti. Strachey's program formed the basis for Arthur Samuel's well-known checkers program. The first chess-playing program, also, was written for the Manchester Ferranti, by Dietrich Prinz; the program first ran in November Designed for solving simple problems of the mate-in-two variety, the program would examine every possible move until a solution was found.

Unlike Prinz's program, the Turochamp could play a complete game when hand-simulated and operated not by exhaustive search but under the guidance of heuristics.

The first fully functioning electronic digital computer to be built in the U. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. Completed in , ENIAC was somewhat similar to the earlier Colossus, but considerably larger and more flexible although far from general-purpose. The primary function for which ENIAC was designed was the calculation of tables used in aiming artillery. ENIAC was not a stored-program computer, and setting it up for a new job involved reconfiguring the machine by means of plugs and switches. For many years, ENIAC was believed to have been the first functioning electronic digital computer, Colossus being unknown to all but a few.

At the Moore School, von Neumann emphasised the importance of the stored-program concept for electronic computing, including the possibility of allowing the machine to modify its own program in useful ways while running for example, in order to control loops and branching. Eckert appears to have realised independently, and prior to von Neumann's joining the ENIAC group, that the way to take full advantage of the speed at which data is processed by electronic circuits is to place suitably encoded instructions for controlling the processing in the same high-speed storage devices that hold the data itself documented in Copeland [], pp.

Lectures held at the Moore School in on the proposed EDVAC were widely attended and contributed greatly to the dissemination of the new ideas. Von Neumann was a prestigious figure and he made the concept of a high-speed stored-program digital computer widely known through his writings and public addresses. The Los Alamos physicist Stanley Frankel, responsible with von Neumann and others for mechanising the large-scale calculations involved in the design of the atomic bomb, has described von Neumann's view of the importance of Turing's paper, in a letter:. This form of memory is known as acoustic memory.

Delay lines had initially been developed for echo cancellation in radar; the idea of using them as memory devices originated with Eckert at the Moore School. Here is Turing's description:. The chief advantage of the delay line as a memory medium was, as Turing put it, that delay lines were "already a going concern" Turing [], p. The fundamental disadvantages of the delay line were that random access is impossible and, moreover, the time taken for an instruction, or number, to emerge from a delay line depends on where in the line it happens to be.

In order to minimize waiting-time, Turing arranged for instructions to be stored not in consecutive positions in the delay line, but in relative positions selected by the programmer in such a way that each instruction would emerge at exactly the time it was required, in so far as this was possible.

Each instruction contained a specification of the location of the next. It was an integral feature of every version of the ACE design. Optimum coding made for difficult and untidy programming, but the advantage in terms of speed was considerable. In the Williams tube or electrostatic memory, previously mentioned, a two-dimensional rectangular array of binary digits was stored on the face of a commercially-available cathode ray tube. Access to data was immediate.

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Essay on history of computers

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