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STARS:Inventing the Computer

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Author: Paul Ceruzzi

Citation

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An information-processing industry based on punched cards began in the 1890s. It grew during the first half of the 20th century, becoming of great importance to businesses and governments. Punched card equipment became increasingly sophisticated and, with incorporation of vacuum-tube electronics in the 1940s, a new type of device ultimately emerged, which we know today as the computer. A computer does sequences of calculations automatically, including data handling, at electronic speeds. Furthermore, the program is itself stored and accessed electronically. Devices with these capabilities have dramatically changed the world since their commercial introduction in 1951.

Timeline

1939 J.V. Atanasoff conceives of electronic calculating circuits
1940 Bell Labs Model I: first demonstration of remote access to a calculator
1941 Zuse "Z3": first programmable electromechanical calculator, Berlin
1944 “Colossus”: British electronic code-breaking machine in use
1944 Harvard Mark I is unveiled, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1945 EDVAC Report, John von Neumann: description of the stored-program principle
1946 ENIAC is unveiled at Moore School, Philadelphia
1948 SSEC: IBM's programmable electronic "Super Calculator" is unveiled
1948 Manchester (U.K.) "Baby" computer: first demonstration of stored-program principle
1948 Card Programmed Calculator is developed at Northrop Aircraft, using IBM equipment
1949 EDSAC: first operational, practical stored-program computer, Cambridge, England
1950 SEAC: first stored-program electronic computer to operate in U.S.
1951 LEO: first commercial computer, for the J. Lyons & Co., U.K.
1951 UNIVAC: first U.S. commercial stored-program computer system
1952 IBM 701: first commercial stored-program computer system from IBM

Essay

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Bibliography

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About the Author(s)

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