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John Haur M.

Perez
Alfred Deciles

The Evolution of the Computers


Monthly Newsletter
Volume 1

he history of computer
science
began
long
before
the
modern
discipline of computer
science that emerged in the 20th
century, and was hinted at in the
centuries prior.
The
progression,
from
mechanical
inventions
and
mathematical theories towards
modern computer concepts and
machines, led to a major academic
field and the basis of a massive
worldwide industry.
The earliest known tool for use
in computation was the abacus,
developed in the period between
27002300 BCE in Sumer.
The
Sumerians'
abacus
consisted of a table of successive
columns which delimited the
successive orders of magnitude of
their sexagesimal number system.
Its original style of usage was
by lines drawn in sand with
pebbles. Abaci of a more modern
design are still used as calculation
tools today.

ENIAC (/ini.k/ or /ni.k/;


Electronic Numerical Integrator
And Computer) was the first
electronic
general-purpose
computer.
It
was
Turing-complete,
digital, and could solve "a large
History of Computers

class of numerical problems"


through reprogramming. Although
ENIAC
was
designed
and
primarily used to calculate artillery
firing tables for the United States
Army's
Ballistic
Research
Laboratory, its first programs
included a study of the feasibility
of the thermonuclear weapon.
ENIAC
was
formally
dedicated at the University of
Pennsylvania on February 15,
1946 and was heralded as a "Giant
Brain" by the press.
It had a speed on the order of
one thousand (103) times faster
than that of electro-mechanical
machines; this computational
power, coupled with generalpurpose programmability, excited
scientists and industrialists alike.
This combination of speed and
programmability
allowed
for
thousands more calculations for
problems, as ENIAC calculated a
trajectory that took a human 20
hours in 30 seconds (a 2400x
increase in speed).

ENIAC's
design
and
construction was financed by the
United States Army, Ordnance
Corps, Research and Development
Command, led by Major General
Gladeon M. Barnes. The total cost
1

was about $487,000, which


equates to $6,816,000 in 2016.
The construction contract was
signed on June 5, 1943; work on
the computer began in secret at the
University
of
Pennsylvania's
Moore School of Electrical
Engineering the following month,
under the code name "Project PX",
with John Grist Brainerd as
principal investigator.
ENIAC was designed by John
Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert of
the University of Pennsylvania,
U.S.

The team of design engineers


assisting the development included
Robert F. Shaw (function tables),
Jeffrey Chuan Chu (divider/squarerooter), Thomas Kite Sharpless
(master programmer), Frank Mural
(master
programmer), Arthur
Burks (multiplier), Harry Huskey
(reader/printer) and Jack Davis
(accumulators). In 1946, the
researchers resigned from the
University of Pennsylvania and
formed
the
Eckert-Mauchly
Computer Corporation.
Twenty of these modules were
accumulators which could not only
add and subtract, but hold a tendigit decimal number in memory.
Numbers were passed between
these units across several general-

8/5/2016

John Haur M. Perez


Alfred Deciles

purpose buses (or trays, as they


were called).

History of Computers

8/5/2016