America And The Computer Industry Essay Research

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America And The Computer Industry Essay, Research Paper History of the Computer Industry in AmericaAmerica and the Computer Industry Only once in a lifetime will a new invention come about to touchevery aspect of our lives. Such a device that changes the way we work,live, and play is a special one, indeed. A machine that has done allthis and more now exists in nearly every business in the U.S. and oneout of every two households (Hall, 156). This incredible invention isthe computer. The electronic computer has been around for over ahalf-century, but its ancestors have been around for 2000 years. However, only in the last 40 years has it changed the American society. >From the first wooden abacus to the latest high-speed microprocessor,the computer has changed nearly every

aspect of people+s lives for thebetter. The very earliest existence of the modern day computer+sancestor is the abacus. These date back to almost 2000 years ago. Itis simply a wooden rack holding parallel wires on which beads arestrung. When these beads are moved along the wire according to”programming” rules that the user must memorize, all ordinary arithmeticoperations can be performed (Soma, 14). The next innovation incomputers took place in 1694 when Blaise Pascal invented the first+digital calculating machine+. It could only add numbers and they hadto be entered by turning dials. It was designed to help Pascal+s fatherwho was a tax collector (Soma, 32). In the early 1800+s, a mathematics professor named CharlesBabbage designed an automatic calculation machine. It was

steam poweredand could store up to 1000 50-digit numbers. Built in to his machinewere operations that included everything a modern general-purposecomputer would need. It was programmed by–and stored data on–cardswith holes punched in them, appropriately called +punchcards+. Hisinventions were failures for the most part because of the lack ofprecision machining techniques used at the time and the lack of demandfor such a device (Soma, 46). After Babbage, people began to lose interest in computers. However, between 1850 and 1900 there were great advances in mathematicsand physics that began to rekindle the interest (Osborne, 45). Many ofthese new advances involved complex calculations and formulas that werevery time consuming for human calculation. The first major use for

acomputer in the U.S. was during the 1890 census. Two men, HermanHollerith and James Powers, developed a new punched-card system thatcould automatically read information on cards without human intervention(Gulliver, 82). Since the population of the U.S. was increasing sofast, the computer was an essential tool in tabulating the totals. These advantages were noted by commercial industries and soonled to the development of improved punch-card business-machine systemsby International Business Machines (IBM), Remington-Rand, Burroughs, andother corporations. By modern standards the punched-card machines wereslow, typically processing from 50 to 250 cards per minute, with eachcard holding up to 80 digits. At the time, however, punched cards werean enormous step forward; they provided

a means of input, output, andmemory storage on a massive scale. For more than 50 years followingtheir first use, punched-card machines did the bulk of the world’sbusiness computing and a good portion of the computing work in science(Chposky, 73). By the late 1930s punched-card machine techniques had become sowell established and reliable that Howard Hathaway Aiken, incollaboration with engineers at IBM, undertook construction of a largeautomatic digital computer based on standard IBM electromechanicalparts. Aiken’s machine, called the Harvard Mark I, handled 23-digitnumbers and could perform all four arithmetic operations. Also, it hadspecial built-in programs to handle logarithms and trigonometricfunctions. The Mark I was controlled from prepunched paper tape. Output was by