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History of Computers

This chapter is a brief summary of the history of Computers. It is supplemented by the two PBS
documentaries video tapes "Inventing the Future" And "The Paperback Computer". The chapter
highlights some of the advances to look for in the documentaries.
In particular, when viewing the movies you should look for two things:
The progression in hardware representation of a bit of data:
Vacuum Tubes (1950s) - one bit on the size of a thumb;
Transistors (1950s and 1960s) - one bit on the size of a fingernail;
Integrated Circuits (1960s and 70s) - thousands of bits on the size of a hand
Silicon computer chips (1970s and on) - millions of bits on the size of a finger nail.
The progression of the ease of use of computers:
Almost impossible to use except by very patient geniuses (1950s);
Programmable by highly trained people only (1960s and 1970s);
Useable by just about anyone (1980s and on).
to see how computers got smaller, cheaper, and easier to use.
First Computers
Eniac Computer
The first substantial computer was the giant ENIAC machine by John W. Mauchly and J.
Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania. ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integrator and
Calculator) used a word of 10 decimal digits instead of binary ones like previous automated
calculators/computers. ENIAC was also the first machine to use more than 2,000 vacuum tubes,
using nearly 18,000 vacuum tubes. Storage of all those vacuum tubes and the machinery required
to keep the cool took up over 167 square meters (1800 square feet) of floor space. Nonetheless, it
had punched-card input and output and arithmetically had 1 multiplier, 1 divider-square rooter,
and 20 adders employing decimal "ring counters," which served as adders and also as quickaccess (0.0002 seconds) read-write register storage.
The executable instructions composing a program were embodied in the separate units of
ENIAC, which were plugged together to form a route through the machine for the flow of
computations. These connections had to be redone for each different problem, together with
presetting function tables and switches. This "wire-your-own" instruction technique was
inconvenient, and only with some license could ENIAC be considered programmable; it was,
however, efficient in handling the particular programs for which it had been designed. ENIAC is
generally acknowledged to be the first successful high-speed electronic digital computer (EDC)
and was productively used from 1946 to 1955. A controversy developed in 1971, however, over
the patentability of ENIAC's basic digital concepts, the claim being made that another U.S.
physicist, John V. Atanasoff, had already used the same ideas in a simpler vacuum-tube device he
built in the 1930s while at Iowa State College. In 1973, the court found in favor of the company
using Atanasoff claim and Atanasoff received the acclaim he rightly deserved.
Progression of Hardware
In the 1950's two devices would be invented that would improve the computer field and
set in motion the beginning of the computer revolution. The first of these two devices was the
transistor. Invented in 1947 by William Shockley, John Bardeen, and Walter Brattain of Bell
Labs, the transistor was fated to oust the days of vacuum tubes in computers, radios, and other
Vaccum Tubes
The vacuum tube, used up to this time in almost all the computers and calculating
machines, had been invented by American physicist Lee De Forest in 1906. The vacuum tube,
which is about the size of a human thumb, worked by using large amounts of electricity to heat a
filament inside the tube until it was cherry red. One result of heating this filament up was the

release of electrons into the tube, which could be controlled by other elements within the tube.
De Forest's original device was a triode, which could control the flow of electrons to a positively
charged plate inside the tube. A zero could then be represented by the absence of an electron
current to the plate; the presence of a small but detectable current to the plate represented a one.
Vacuum tubes were highly inefficient, required a great deal of space, and needed to be
replaced often. Computers of the 1940s and 50s had 18,000 tubes in them and housing all these
tubes and cooling the rooms from the heat produced by 18,000 tubes was not cheap. The
transistor promised to solve all of these problems and it did so. Transistors, however, had their
problems too. The main problem was that transistors, like other electronic components, needed to
be soldered together. As a result, the more complex the circuits became, the more complicated
and numerous the connections between the individual transistors and the likelihood of faulty
wiring increased.
In 1958, this problem too was solved by Jack St. Clair Kilby of Texas Instruments. He
manufactured the first integrated circuit or chip. A chip is really a collection of tiny transistors
which are connected together when the transistor is manufactured. Thus, the need for soldering
together large numbers of transistors was practically nullified; now only connections were
needed to other electronic components. In addition to saving space, the speed of the machine was
now increased since there was a diminished distance that the electrons had to follow.
Circuit BoardSilicon Chip
Mainframes to PCs
The 1960s saw large mainframe computers become much more common in large
industries and with the US military and space program. IBM became the unquestioned market
leader in selling these large, expensive, error-prone, and very hard to use machines.
A veritable explosion of personal computers occurred in the early 1970s, starting with
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak exhibiting the first Apple II at the First West Coast Computer
Faire in San Francisco. The Apple II boasted built-in BASIC programming language, color
graphics, and a 4100 character memory for only $1298. Programs and data could be stored on an
everyday audio-cassette recorder. Before the end of the fair, Wozniak and Jobs had secured 300
orders for the Apple II and from there Apple just took off.
Also introduced in 1977 was the TRS-80. This was a home computer manufactured by
Tandy Radio Shack. In its second incarnation, the TRS-80 Model II, came complete with a
64,000 character memory and a disk drive to store programs and data on. At this time, only
Apple and TRS had machines with disk drives. With the introduction of the disk drive, personal
computer applications took off as a floppy disk was a most convenient publishing medium for
distribution of software.
IBM, which up to this time had been producing mainframes and minicomputers for
medium to large-sized businesses, decided that it had to get into the act and started working on
the Acorn, which would later be called the IBM PC. The PC was the first computer designed for
the home market which would feature modular design so that pieces could easily be added to the
architecture. Most of the components, surprisingly, came from outside of IBM, since building it
with IBM parts would have cost too much for the home computer market. When it was
introduced, the PC came with a 16,000 character memory, keyboard from an IBM electric
typewriter, and a connection for tape cassette player for $1265.
By 1984, Apple and IBM had come out with new models. Apple released the first
generation Macintosh, which was the first computer to come with a graphical user
interface(GUI) and a mouse. The GUI made the machine much more attractive to home
computer users because it was easy to use. Sales of the Macintosh soared like nothing ever seen
before. IBM was hot on Apple's tail and released the 286-AT, which with applications like Lotus
1-2-3, a spreadsheet, and Microsoft Word, quickly became the favourite of business concerns.
That brings us up to about ten years ago. Now people have their own personal graphics
workstations and powerful home computers. The average computer a person might have in their
home is more powerful by several orders of magnitude than a machine like ENIAC. The
computer revolution has been the fastest growing technology in man's history.

Computer keyboard
In computing, a computer keyboard is a typewriter-style device which uses an
arrangement of buttons or keys to act as amechanical lever or electronic switch. Following the
decline of punch cards and paper tape, interaction via teleprinter-style keyboards became the
main input device for computers.
A keyboard typically has characters engraved or printed on the keys (buttons) and each press of a
key typically corresponds to a single written symbol. However, to produce some symbols
requires pressing and holding several keys simultaneously or in sequence. While most keyboard
keys produce letters, numbers or signs (characters), other keys or simultaneous key presses can
produce actions or execute computer commands.
Despite the development of alternative input devices, such as the mouse, touchscreen, pen
devices, character recognitionand voice recognition, the keyboard remains the most commonly
used device for direct (human) input of alphanumeric data into computers.
In normal usage, the keyboard is used as a text entry interface to type text and numbers into
a word processor, text editoror other programs. In a modern computer, the interpretation of key
presses is generally left to the software. A computer keyboard distinguishes each physical key
from every other and reports all key presses to the controlling software. Keyboards are also used
for computer gaming, either with regular keyboards or by using keyboards with special gaming
features, which can expedite frequently used keystroke combinations. A keyboard is also used to
give commands to the operating system of a computer, such as Windows' Control-AltDelete combination, which brings up a task window or shuts down the machine. A command-line
interface is a type of user interface operated entirely through a keyboard, or another device doing
the job of one.
While typewriters are the definitive ancestor of all key-based text entry devices, the
computer keyboard as a device for electromechanical data entry and communication derives
largely from the utility of two devices: teleprinters (or teletypes) and keypunches. It was through
such devices that modern computer keyboards inherited their layouts.
As early as the 1870s, teleprinter-like devices were used to simultaneously type and
transmit stock market text data from the keyboard across telegraph lines to stock ticker
machines to be immediately copied and displayed onto ticker tape. The teleprinter, in its more
contemporary form, was developed from 1907 to 1910 by American mechanical
engineer Charles Krum and his son Howard, with early contributions by electrical
engineer Frank Pearne. Earlier models were developed separately by individuals such as Royal
Earl House and Frederick G. Creed.
Earlier, Herman Hollerith developed the first keypunch devices, which soon evolved to include
keys for text and number entry akin to normal typewriters by the 1930s.[1]
From the 1940s until the late 1960s, typewriters were the main means of data entry and
output for computing, becoming integrated into what were known as computer terminals.
Because of the limitations of terminals based upon printed text in comparison to the growth in
data storage, processing and transmission, a general move toward video-based computer
terminals was effected by the 1970s, starting with the Datapoint 3300 in 1967.
The keyboard remained the primary, most integrated computer peripheral well into the era of
personal computing until the introduction of the mouse as a consumer device in 1984. By this
time, text-only user interfaces with sparse graphics gave way to comparatively graphics-rich
icons on screen. However, keyboards remain central to human-computer interaction to the
present, even as mobile personal computing devices such as smartphones and tablets adapt the
keyboard as an optional virtual, touchscreen-based means of data entry.

Function of a computer keyboard

A computer keyboard allows an operator to give commands to the computer in a simple
way by pressing keys. The keys on a keyboard are typically labeled with their input function,
ranging from letters of the alphabet to numbers and symbols.There is no one standard keyboard;
all keyboard or computer manufacturers create their own. However, most keyboards are similar
and feature the same basic functions. The most essential component to keyboards are the letter
keys which allow an operator to write letters of the alphabet on programs on the computer.
Keyboards can be found in nearly any language to match the settings on the computer. Aside
from letters, numbers and basic navigation functions like arrow keys and the "enter" button are
typically included on keyboards.
Computer Keyboard

Computer keyboard is a device used to enter data and commands to a computer. Here are
some facts you should know about this part of a computer.
What is computer keyboard?
It is one of the most important parts of a computer which is used to enter commands, text,
numerical data and other types of data by pressing the keys on the keyboard.
A user talks with a computer through input devices such as keyboard and mouse. Input
devices are used to enter data to a computer. The entered data then converted into machine
language so that a CPU understands the data or instruction comes through the input devices.

Types of keyboard
Computer keyboard comes in several type and variation, however, the basic elements are
the same in all keyboards.
The most common types include
- 101 or 102-Key enhanced keyboard (this is a popular type of keyboard now used almost in
all system units)
- 104-Key Keyboard

Commonly, a keyboard layout type which is called QWERTY (takes its name from the
first six letters of the typing keys) is used widely for English language keyboard.
Basically, all keyboards have the following parts:Typing area
It looks and arranged like a traditional typewriter where you press alphabetic keys. It
holds alphabetic character such as letter, special characters and numbers. This is the area you use
mostly when you do word processing.
Function keys
The functions keys are located at the top of a keyboard and grouped into four. There are
12 functions keys starting from F1 through F12. These keys are used for special purposes and
most programmers use these keys to do a specific task.
For example, if you are writing text with Microsoft Word and wanted to read Help, you
can press F1 to display the Help. F5 key will display Find and Replace dialogue box. F12 key
will display Save As dialogue box.
These keys used differently again in other applications, for example, if you are a user of
AutoCAD, pressing F2 will display AutoCAD text window.
Similarly, you can check all the keys and how they carry out specific task depending on
the type of application you are running. Most applications will tell on their manuals and guides
how these functions keys are used in the applications.
Generally, functions keys will greatly benefit you if you know how to use them well. More
on computer keyboard shortcuts...
Numeric keypad
Numeric keypad is the other part of computer keyboard. Usually, it is located at the right
side of a keyboard. It is arranged like a standard calculator used to enter numerical data.
It can also be used as directional keys. Pressing the Num Lock key above the numeric keypad
will tell whether the keys are on numeric or directional mode. If it is on, it is on numeric mode
and can enter numbers. If it is off, it is on directional mode and only used for moving a cursor on
screen UP, Down, Left or Right.
Cursor and monitor controls
These are keys found between the typing keypad and the numeric keypad. It has two groups of
keys, arranged top and bottom.
The top keys holds Insert, Home, Page Up, Page Down, Delete, and Endkeys.
Insert key switches between insert and overtype modes. Home key brings you back at the
beginning of a page. Page Up and Page Down keys help you to move one page or screen up or
down. Delete key erases a text or page. The End key takes you at the end of a page.
The bottom keys are independent directional keys, which let you to move the cursor Left, Right,
Up and Down. Status lights, Escape key, Print Screen/SysRq, Scroll Lock, Pause/Break are user
for frequent functions.
For example, if you press the Caps Lock on the typing keypad, the Caps Lock Status light tells
you that is on and can type Capital letters. You press Print Screen key if you want to save the
current Window as an image.

These are the parts found in standard computer keyboard and mostly used in desktop computers.
Laptop and Notebook keyboard types are more compact, but recently we are beginning to see
laptops that have dedicated numeric keypads as well.