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Computer
FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Acomputerisadevicethatcanbeinstructedtocarryout
anarbitrarysetofarithmeticorlogicaloperations
automatically.Theabilityofcomputerstofollowasequence
ofoperations,calledaprogram,makecomputersvery
flexibleanduseful.Suchcomputersareusedascontrol
systemsforaverywidevarietyofindustrialandconsumer
devices.Thisincludessimplespecialpurposedeviceslike
microwaveovensandremotecontrols,factorydevicessuch
asindustrialrobotsandcomputerassisteddesign,butalsoin
generalpurposedeviceslikepersonalcomputersandmobile
devicessuchassmartphones.TheInternetisrunon
computersanditconnectsmillionsofothercomputers.

Computer

Sinceancienttimes,simplemanualdevicesliketheabacus
aidedpeopleindoingcalculations.EarlyintheIndustrial
Computersandcomputingdevicesfromdifferenteras
Revolution,somemechanicaldeviceswerebuiltto
automatelongtedioustasks,suchasguidingpatternsfor
looms.Moresophisticatedelectricalmachinesdidspecializedanalogcalculationsintheearly20thcentury.The
firstdigitalelectroniccalculatingmachinesweredevelopedduringWorldWarII.Thespeed,power,andversatility
ofcomputershasincreasedcontinuouslyanddramaticallysincethen.
Conventionally,amoderncomputerconsistsofatleastoneprocessingelement,typicallyacentralprocessingunit
(CPU),andsomeformofmemory.Theprocessingelementcarriesoutarithmeticandlogicaloperations,anda
sequencingandcontrolunitcanchangetheorderofoperationsinresponsetostoredinformation.Peripheral
devicesincludeinputdevices(keyboards,mice,joystick,etc.),outputdevices(monitorscreens,printers,etc.),and
input/outputdevicesthatperformbothfunctions(e.g.,the2000seratouchscreen).Peripheraldevicesallow
informationtoberetrievedfromanexternalsourceandtheyenabletheresultofoperationstobesavedand
retrieved.

Contents
1 Etymology
2 History
2.1 Pre20thcentury
2.2 Firstcomputingdevice
2.3 Analogcomputers
2.4 Digitalcomputers
2.5 Moderncomputers
2.6 Mobilecomputersbecomedominant
3 Programs
3.1 Storedprogramarchitecture
3.2 Machinecode
3.3 Programminglanguage
3.4 Fourthgenerationlanguages
3.5 Programdesign
3.6 Bugs
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3.6 Bugs
4 Components
4.1 Controlunit
4.2 Centralprocessingunit(CPU)
4.3 Arithmeticlogicunit(ALU)
4.4 Memory
4.5 Input/output(I/O)
4.6 Multitasking
4.7 Multiprocessing
5 NetworkingandtheInternet
5.1 Computerarchitectureparadigms
6 Misconceptions
6.1 Unconventionalcomputing
7 Future
8 Furthertopics
8.1 Artificialintelligence
9 Hardware
9.1 Historyofcomputinghardware
9.2 Otherhardwaretopics
10 Software
11 Languages
11.1 Firmware
12 Types
12.1 Basedonuses
12.2 Basedonsizes
13 Inputdevices
14 Outputdevices
15 Professionsandorganizations
16 Seealso
17 Notes
18 References
19 Externallinks

Etymology
AccordingtotheOxfordEnglishDictionary,thefirstknownuseoftheword"computer"wasin1613inabook
calledTheYongMansGleaningsbyEnglishwriterRichardBraithwait:"Ihaue[sic]readthetruestcomputerof
Times,andthebestArithmeticianthateuer[sic]breathed,andhereduceththydayesintoashortnumber."This
usageofthetermreferredtoapersonwhocarriedoutcalculationsorcomputations.Thewordcontinuedwiththe
samemeaninguntilthemiddleofthe20thcentury.Fromtheendofthe19thcenturythewordbegantotakeonits
morefamiliarmeaning,amachinethatcarriesoutcomputations.[1]
TheOnlineEtymologyDictionarygivesthefirstattesteduseof"computer"inthe"1640s,[meaning]"onewho
calculates,"thisisan"...agentnounfromcompute(v.)".TheOnlineEtymologyDictionarystatesthattheuseof
thetermtomean"calculatingmachine"(ofanytype)isfrom1897."TheOnlineEtymologyDictionaryindicates
thatthe"modernuse"oftheterm,tomean"programmabledigitalelectroniccomputer"datesfrom"...1945under
thisname[ina]theoretical[sense]from1937,asTuringmachine".[2]

History
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Pre20thcentury
Deviceshavebeenusedtoaidcomputationforthousandsofyears,mostlyusingonetoone
correspondencewithfingers.Theearliestcountingdevicewasprobablyaformoftallystick.
LaterrecordkeepingaidsthroughouttheFertileCrescentincludedcalculi(clayspheres,
cones,etc.)whichrepresentedcountsofitems,probablylivestockorgrains,sealedinhollow
unbakedclaycontainers.[3][4]Theuseofcountingrodsisoneexample.

TheChineseSuanpan()(the
numberrepresentedonthisabacusis
6,302,715,408)

Theabacuswasinitiallyusedforarithmetictasks.The
Romanabacuswasdevelopedfromdevicesusedin
Babyloniaasearlyas2400BC.Sincethen,manyother
formsofreckoningboardsortableshavebeen
invented.InamedievalEuropeancountinghouse,a
checkeredclothwouldbeplacedonatable,and
markersmovedaroundonitaccordingtocertainrules,
asanaidtocalculatingsumsofmoney.

TheIshango
bone

TheAntikytheramechanismis
believedtobetheearliest
mechanicalanalog"computer",
[5]
accordingtoDerekJ.deSollaPrice. Itwasdesignedtocalculate
astronomicalpositions.Itwasdiscoveredin1901intheAntikytherawreck
offtheGreekislandofAntikythera,betweenKytheraandCrete,andhas
beendatedtocirca100BC.Devicesofalevelofcomplexitycomparableto
thatoftheAntikytheramechanismwouldnotreappearuntilathousand
yearslater.
Manymechanicalaidstocalculationandmeasurementwereconstructedfor
astronomicalandnavigationuse.Theplanispherewasastarchartinvented
TheancientGreekdesigned
[6]
Antikytheramechanism,dating
byAbRayhnalBrnintheearly11thcentury. Theastrolabewas
between150and100BC,isthe
inventedintheHellenisticworldineitherthe1stor2ndcenturiesBCand
world'soldestanalogcomputer.
isoftenattributedtoHipparchus.Acombinationoftheplanisphereand
dioptra,theastrolabewaseffectivelyananalogcomputercapableof
workingoutseveraldifferentkindsofproblemsinsphericalastronomy.Anastrolabeincorporatingamechanical
calendarcomputer[7][8]andgearwheelswasinventedbyAbiBakrofIsfahan,Persiain1235.[9]AbRayhnal
Brninventedthefirstmechanicalgearedlunisolarcalendarastrolabe,[10]anearlyfixedwiredknowledge
processingmachine[11]withageartrainandgearwheels,[12]circa1000AD.
Thesector,acalculatinginstrumentusedforsolvingproblemsinproportion,trigonometry,multiplicationand
division,andforvariousfunctions,suchassquaresandcuberoots,wasdevelopedinthelate16thcenturyand
foundapplicationingunnery,surveyingandnavigation.
Theplanimeterwasamanualinstrumenttocalculatetheareaofaclosedfigurebytracingoveritwitha
mechanicallinkage.
Thesliderulewasinventedaround16201630,shortlyafterthepublicationoftheconceptofthelogarithm.Itisa
handoperatedanalogcomputerfordoingmultiplicationanddivision.Asslideruledevelopmentprogressed,added
scalesprovidedreciprocals,squaresandsquareroots,cubesandcuberoots,aswellastranscendentalfunctions
suchaslogarithmsandexponentials,circularandhyperbolictrigonometryandotherfunctions.Aviationisoneof

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thefewfieldswheresliderulesarestillinwidespreaduse,particularlyfor
solvingtimedistanceproblemsinlightaircraft.Tosavespaceandforease
ofreading,thesearetypicallycirculardevicesratherthantheclassiclinear
slideruleshape.ApopularexampleistheE6B.
Asliderule

Inthe1770sPierreJaquetDroz,aSwisswatchmaker,builtamechanical
doll(automata)thatcouldwriteholdingaquillpen.Byswitchingthe
numberandorderofitsinternalwheelsdifferentletters,andhencedifferentmessages,couldbeproduced.In
effect,itcouldbemechanically"programmed"toreadinstructions.Alongwithtwoothercomplexmachines,the
dollisattheMused'Artetd'HistoireofNeuchtel,Switzerland,andstilloperates.[13]
ThetidepredictingmachineinventedbySirWilliamThomsonin1872wasofgreatutilitytonavigationinshallow
waters.Itusedasystemofpulleysandwirestoautomaticallycalculatepredictedtidelevelsforasetperiodata
particularlocation.
Thedifferentialanalyser,amechanicalanalogcomputerdesignedtosolvedifferentialequationsbyintegration,
usedwheelanddiscmechanismstoperformtheintegration.In1876LordKelvinhadalreadydiscussedthe
possibleconstructionofsuchcalculators,buthehadbeenstymiedbythelimitedoutputtorqueoftheballanddisk
integrators.[14]Inadifferentialanalyzer,theoutputofoneintegratordrovetheinputofthenextintegrator,ora
graphingoutput.Thetorqueamplifierwastheadvancethatallowedthesemachinestowork.Startinginthe1920s,
VannevarBushandothersdevelopedmechanicaldifferentialanalyzers.

Firstcomputingdevice
CharlesBabbage,anEnglishmechanicalengineerandpolymath,originated
theconceptofaprogrammablecomputer.Consideredthe"fatherofthe
computer",[15]heconceptualizedandinventedthefirstmechanical
computerintheearly19thcentury.Afterworkingonhisrevolutionary
differenceengine,designedtoaidinnavigationalcalculations,in1833he
realizedthatamuchmoregeneraldesign,anAnalyticalEngine,was
possible.Theinputofprogramsanddatawastobeprovidedtothemachine
viapunchedcards,amethodbeingusedatthetimetodirectmechanical
loomssuchastheJacquardloom.Foroutput,themachinewouldhavea
printer,acurveplotterandabell.Themachinewouldalsobeabletopunch
numbersontocardstobereadinlater.TheEngineincorporatedan
arithmeticlogicunit,controlflowintheformofconditionalbranchingand
loops,andintegratedmemory,makingitthefirstdesignforageneral
purposecomputerthatcouldbedescribedinmoderntermsasTuring
complete.[16][17]
AportionofBabbage'sDifference
Themachinewasaboutacenturyaheadofitstime.Allthepartsforhis
engine.
machinehadtobemadebyhandthiswasamajorproblemforadevice
withthousandsofparts.Eventually,theprojectwasdissolvedwiththe
decisionoftheBritishGovernmenttoceasefunding.Babbage'sfailuretocompletetheanalyticalenginecanbe
chieflyattributedtodifficultiesnotonlyofpoliticsandfinancing,butalsotohisdesiretodevelopanincreasingly
sophisticatedcomputerandtomoveaheadfasterthananyoneelsecouldfollow.Nevertheless,hisson,Henry
Babbage,completedasimplifiedversionoftheanalyticalengine'scomputingunit(themill)in1888.Hegavea
successfuldemonstrationofitsuseincomputingtablesin1906.

Analogcomputers
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Duringthefirsthalfofthe20thcentury,manyscientificcomputingneedswere
metbyincreasinglysophisticatedanalogcomputers,whichusedadirect
mechanicalorelectricalmodeloftheproblemasabasisforcomputation.
However,thesewerenotprogrammableandgenerallylackedtheversatility
andaccuracyofmoderndigitalcomputers.[18]Thefirstmodernanalog
computerwasatidepredictingmachine,inventedbySirWilliamThomsonin
1872.Thedifferentialanalyser,amechanicalanalogcomputerdesignedto
solvedifferentialequationsbyintegrationusingwheelanddiscmechanisms,
wasconceptualizedin1876byJamesThomson,thebrotherofthemore
famousLordKelvin.[14]
SirWilliamThomson'sthirdtide
predictingmachinedesign,1879
81

Theartofmechanicalanalogcomputingreacheditszenithwiththedifferential
analyzer,builtbyH.L.HazenandVannevarBushatMITstartingin1927.
ThisbuiltonthemechanicalintegratorsofJamesThomsonandthetorque
amplifiersinventedbyH.W.Nieman.Adozenofthesedeviceswerebuilt
beforetheirobsolescencebecameobvious.Bythe1950sthesuccessofdigitalelectroniccomputershadspelledthe
endformostanalogcomputingmachines,butanalogcomputersremainedinuseduringthe1950sinsome
specializedapplicationssuchaseducation(controlsystems)andaircraft(sliderule).

Digitalcomputers
Electromechanical
By1938theUnitedStatesNavyhaddevelopedanelectromechanicalanalogcomputersmallenoughtouseaboard
asubmarine.ThiswastheTorpedoDataComputer,whichusedtrigonometrytosolvetheproblemoffiringa
torpedoatamovingtarget.DuringWorldWarIIsimilardevicesweredevelopedinothercountriesaswell.
Earlydigitalcomputerswereelectromechanicalelectricswitchesdrove
mechanicalrelaystoperformthecalculation.Thesedeviceshadalow
operatingspeedandwereeventuallysupersededbymuchfasterallelectric
computers,originallyusingvacuumtubes.TheZ2,createdbyGerman
engineerKonradZusein1939,wasoneoftheearliestexamplesofan
electromechanicalrelaycomputer.[19]
In1941,ZusefollowedhisearliermachineupwiththeZ3,theworld'sfirst
workingelectromechanicalprogrammable,fullyautomaticdigital
ReplicaofZuse'sZ3,thefirst
computer.[20][21]TheZ3wasbuiltwith2000relays,implementinga22bit
fullyautomatic,digital
wordlengththatoperatedataclockfrequencyofabout510Hz.[22]Program
(electromechanical)computer.
codewassuppliedonpunchedfilmwhiledatacouldbestoredin64wordsof
memoryorsuppliedfromthekeyboard.Itwasquitesimilartomodern
machinesinsomerespects,pioneeringnumerousadvancessuchasfloatingpointnumbers.Ratherthantheharder
toimplementdecimalsystem(usedinCharlesBabbage'searlierdesign),usingabinarysystemmeantthatZuse's
machineswereeasiertobuildandpotentiallymorereliable,giventhetechnologiesavailableatthattime.[23]The
Z3wasTuringcomplete.[24][25]
Vacuumtubesanddigitalelectroniccircuits

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Purelyelectroniccircuitelementssoonreplacedtheirmechanicalandelectromechanicalequivalents,atthesame
timethatdigitalcalculationreplacedanalog.TheengineerTommyFlowers,workingatthePostOfficeResearch
StationinLondoninthe1930s,begantoexplorethepossibleuseofelectronicsforthetelephoneexchange.
Experimentalequipmentthathebuiltin1934wentintooperationfiveyearslater,convertingaportionofthe
telephoneexchangenetworkintoanelectronicdataprocessingsystem,usingthousandsofvacuumtubes.[18]Inthe
US,JohnVincentAtanasoffandCliffordE.BerryofIowaStateUniversitydevelopedandtestedtheAtanasoff
BerryComputer(ABC)in1942,[26]thefirst"automaticelectronicdigitalcomputer".[27]Thisdesignwasalsoall
electronicandusedabout300vacuumtubes,withcapacitorsfixedinamechanicallyrotatingdrumformemory.[28]
DuringWorldWarII,theBritishatBletchleyParkachievedanumberof
successesatbreakingencryptedGermanmilitarycommunications.The
Germanencryptionmachine,Enigma,wasfirstattackedwiththehelpof
theelectromechanicalbombes.TocrackthemoresophisticatedGerman
LorenzSZ40/42machine,usedforhighlevelArmycommunications,Max
NewmanandhiscolleaguescommissionedFlowerstobuildthe
Colossus.[28]HespentelevenmonthsfromearlyFebruary1943designing
andbuildingthefirstColossus.[29]AfterafunctionaltestinDecember
1943,ColossuswasshippedtoBletchleyPark,whereitwasdeliveredon
18January1944[30]andattackeditsfirstmessageon5February.[28]

Colossuswasthefirstelectronic
digitalprogrammablecomputing
device,andwasusedtobreak
GermanciphersduringWorldWarII.

Colossuswastheworld'sfirstelectronicdigitalprogrammable
computer.[18]Itusedalargenumberofvalves(vacuumtubes).Ithadpaper
tapeinputandwascapableofbeingconfiguredtoperformavarietyofbooleanlogicaloperationsonitsdata,butit
wasnotTuringcomplete.NineMkIIColossiwerebuilt(TheMkIwasconvertedtoaMkIImakingtenmachines
intotal).ColossusMarkIcontained1500thermionicvalves(tubes),butMarkIIwith2400valves,wasboth5
timesfasterandsimplertooperatethanMark1,greatlyspeedingthedecodingprocess.[31][32]
TheU.S.builtENIAC[33](ElectronicNumericalIntegratorandComputer)
wasthefirstelectronicprogrammablecomputerbuiltintheUS.Although
theENIACwassimilartotheColossusitwasmuchfasterandmore
flexible.LiketheColossus,a"program"ontheENIACwasdefinedbythe
statesofitspatchcablesandswitches,afarcryfromthestoredprogram
electronicmachinesthatcamelater.Onceaprogramwaswritten,ithadto
bemechanicallysetintothemachinewithmanualresettingofplugsand
switches.
Itcombinedthehighspeedofelectronicswiththeabilitytobeprogrammed
formanycomplexproblems.Itcouldaddorsubtract5000timesasecond,a
thousandtimesfasterthananyothermachine.Italsohadmodulesto
multiply,divide,andsquareroot.Highspeedmemorywaslimitedto20
words(about80bytes).BuiltunderthedirectionofJohnMauchlyandJ.
PresperEckertattheUniversityofPennsylvania,ENIAC'sdevelopment
andconstructionlastedfrom1943tofulloperationattheendof1945.Themachinewashuge,weighing30tons,
using200kilowattsofelectricpowerandcontainedover18,000vacuumtubes,1,500relays,andhundredsof
thousandsofresistors,capacitors,andinductors.[34]
ENIACwasthefirstTuringcomplete
device,andperformedballistics
trajectorycalculationsfortheUnited
StatesArmy.

Moderncomputers
Conceptofmoderncomputer
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TheprincipleofthemoderncomputerwasproposedbyAlanTuringinhisseminal1936paper,[35]OnComputable
Numbers.Turingproposedasimpledevicethathecalled"UniversalComputingmachine"andthatisnowknown
asauniversalTuringmachine.Heprovedthatsuchamachineiscapableofcomputinganythingthatiscomputable
byexecutinginstructions(program)storedontape,allowingthemachinetobeprogrammable.Thefundamental
conceptofTuring'sdesignisthestoredprogram,wherealltheinstructionsforcomputingarestoredinmemory.
VonNeumannacknowledgedthatthecentralconceptofthemoderncomputerwasduetothispaper.[36]Turing
machinesaretothisdayacentralobjectofstudyintheoryofcomputation.Exceptforthelimitationsimposedby
theirfinitememorystores,moderncomputersaresaidtobeTuringcomplete,whichistosay,theyhavealgorithm
executioncapabilityequivalenttoauniversalTuringmachine.
Storedprograms
Earlycomputingmachineshadfixedprograms.Changingitsfunction
requiredtherewiringandrestructuringofthemachine.[28]Withthe
proposalofthestoredprogramcomputerthischanged.Astored
programcomputerincludesbydesignaninstructionsetandcanstore
inmemoryasetofinstructions(aprogram)thatdetailsthe
computation.Thetheoreticalbasisforthestoredprogramcomputer
waslaidbyAlanTuringinhis1936paper.In1945Turingjoinedthe
NationalPhysicalLaboratoryandbeganworkondevelopingan
electronicstoredprogramdigitalcomputer.His1945report"Proposed
ElectronicCalculator"wasthefirstspecificationforsuchadevice.
JohnvonNeumannattheUniversityofPennsylvaniaalsocirculated
hisFirstDraftofaReportontheEDVACin1945.[18]

FerrantiMark1,c.1951.

AsectionoftheManchesterSmallScale
ExperimentalMachine,thefirststored
programcomputer.

TheManchesterSmallScale
ExperimentalMachine,nicknamedBaby,wastheworld'sfirststoredprogram
computer.ItwasbuiltattheVictoriaUniversityofManchesterbyFredericC.
Williams,TomKilburnandGeoffTootill,andranitsfirstprogramon21June
1948.[37]ItwasdesignedasatestbedfortheWilliamstube,thefirstrandom
accessdigitalstoragedevice.[38]Althoughthecomputerwasconsidered"small
andprimitive"bythestandardsofitstime,itwasthefirstworkingmachineto
containalloftheelementsessentialtoamodernelectroniccomputer.[39]Assoon
astheSSEMhaddemonstratedthefeasibilityofitsdesign,aprojectwasinitiated
attheuniversitytodevelopitintoamoreusablecomputer,theManchesterMark
1.

TheMark1inturnquicklybecametheprototypefortheFerrantiMark1,the
world'sfirstcommerciallyavailablegeneralpurposecomputer.[40]BuiltbyFerranti,itwasdeliveredtothe
UniversityofManchesterinFebruary1951.Atleastsevenoftheselatermachinesweredeliveredbetween1953
and1957,oneofthemtoShelllabsinAmsterdam.[41]InOctober1947,thedirectorsofBritishcateringcompany
J.Lyons&Companydecidedtotakeanactiveroleinpromotingthecommercialdevelopmentofcomputers.The
LEOIcomputerbecameoperationalinApril1951[42]andrantheworld'sfirstregularroutineofficecomputerjob.
Transistors
Thebipolartransistorwasinventedin1947.From1955onwardstransistorsreplacedvacuumtubesincomputer
designs,givingrisetothe"secondgeneration"ofcomputers.Comparedtovacuumtubes,transistorshavemany
advantages:theyaresmaller,andrequirelesspowerthanvacuumtubes,sogiveofflessheat.Siliconjunction
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transistorsweremuchmorereliablethanvacuumtubesandhadlonger,
indefinite,servicelife.Transistorizedcomputerscouldcontaintensof
thousandsofbinarylogiccircuitsinarelativelycompactspace.
AttheUniversityofManchester,ateamundertheleadershipofTom
Kilburndesignedandbuiltamachineusingthenewlydevelopedtransistors
insteadofvalves.[43]Theirfirsttransistorisedcomputerandthefirstinthe
world,wasoperationalby1953,andasecondversionwascompletedthere
inApril1955.However,themachinedidmakeuseofvalvestogenerateits
125kHzclockwaveformsandinthecircuitrytoreadandwriteonits
Abipolarjunctiontransistor
magneticdrummemory,soitwasnotthefirstcompletelytransistorized
computer.ThatdistinctiongoestotheHarwellCADETof1955,[44]builtby
theelectronicsdivisionoftheAtomicEnergyResearchEstablishmentatHarwell.[44][45]
Integratedcircuits
Thenextgreatadvanceincomputingpowercamewiththeadventoftheintegratedcircuit.Theideaofthe
integratedcircuitwasfirstconceivedbyaradarscientistworkingfortheRoyalRadarEstablishmentofthe
MinistryofDefence,GeoffreyW.A.Dummer.Dummerpresentedthefirstpublicdescriptionofanintegrated
circuitattheSymposiumonProgressinQualityElectronicComponentsinWashington,D.C.on7May1952.[46]
ThefirstpracticalICswereinventedbyJackKilbyatTexasInstrumentsandRobertNoyceatFairchild
Semiconductor.[47]KilbyrecordedhisinitialideasconcerningtheintegratedcircuitinJuly1958,successfully
demonstratingthefirstworkingintegratedexampleon12September1958.[48]Inhispatentapplicationof6
February1959,Kilbydescribedhisnewdeviceas"abodyofsemiconductormaterial...whereinallthe
componentsoftheelectroniccircuitarecompletelyintegrated".[49][50]Noycealsocameupwithhisownideaofan
integratedcircuithalfayearlaterthanKilby.[51]HischipsolvedmanypracticalproblemsthatKilby'shadnot.
ProducedatFairchildSemiconductor,itwasmadeofsilicon,whereasKilby'schipwasmadeofgermanium.
Thisnewdevelopmentheraldedanexplosioninthecommercialandpersonaluseofcomputersandledtothe
inventionofthemicroprocessor.Whilethesubjectofexactlywhichdevicewasthefirstmicroprocessoris
contentious,partlyduetolackofagreementontheexactdefinitionoftheterm"microprocessor",itislargely
undisputedthatthefirstsinglechipmicroprocessorwastheIntel4004,[52]designedandrealizedbyTedHoff,
FedericoFaggin,andStanleyMazoratIntel.[53]

Mobilecomputersbecomedominant
Withthecontinuedminiaturizationofcomputingresources,andadvancementsinportablebatterylife,portable
computersgrewinpopularityinthe2000s.[54]Thesamedevelopmentsthatspurredthegrowthoflaptopcomputers
andotherportablecomputersallowedmanufacturerstointegratecomputingresourcesintocellularphones.These
socalledsmartphonesandtabletsrunonavarietyofoperatingsystemsandhavebecomethedominantcomputing
deviceonthemarket,withmanufacturersreportinghavingshippedanestimated237milliondevicesin2Q
2013.[55]

Programs

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Thedefiningfeatureofmoderncomputerswhichdistinguishesthemfromallothermachinesisthattheycanbe
programmed.Thatistosaythatsometypeofinstructions(theprogram)canbegiventothecomputer,anditwill
processthem.ModerncomputersbasedonthevonNeumannarchitectureoftenhavemachinecodeintheformof
animperativeprogramminglanguage.Inpracticalterms,acomputerprogrammaybejustafewinstructionsor
extendtomanymillionsofinstructions,asdotheprogramsforwordprocessorsandwebbrowsersforexample.A
typicalmoderncomputercanexecutebillionsofinstructionspersecond(gigaflops)andrarelymakesamistake
overmanyyearsofoperation.Largecomputerprogramsconsistingofseveralmillioninstructionsmaytaketeams
ofprogrammersyearstowrite,andduetothecomplexityofthetaskalmostcertainlycontainerrors.

Storedprogramarchitecture
ThissectionappliestomostcommonRAMmachinebasedcomputers.
Inmostcases,computerinstructionsaresimple:addonenumberto
another,movesomedatafromonelocationtoanother,sendamessageto
someexternaldevice,etc.Theseinstructionsarereadfromthecomputer's
memoryandaregenerallycarriedout(executed)intheordertheywere
given.However,thereareusuallyspecializedinstructionstotellthe
computertojumpaheadorbackwardstosomeotherplaceintheprogram
andtocarryonexecutingfromthere.Thesearecalled"jump"instructions
(orbranches).Furthermore,jumpinstructionsmaybemadetohappen
conditionallysothatdifferentsequencesofinstructionsmaybeused
dependingontheresultofsomepreviouscalculationorsomeexternal
event.Manycomputersdirectlysupportsubroutinesbyprovidingatypeof
jumpthat"remembers"thelocationitjumpedfromandanotherinstruction
toreturntotheinstructionfollowingthatjumpinstruction.

ReplicaoftheSmallScale
ExperimentalMachine(SSEM),the
world'sfirststoredprogram
computer,attheMuseumofScience
andIndustryinManchester,England

Programexecutionmightbelikenedtoreadingabook.Whileapersonwillnormallyreadeachwordandlinein
sequence,theymayattimesjumpbacktoanearlierplaceinthetextorskipsectionsthatarenotofinterest.
Similarly,acomputermaysometimesgobackandrepeattheinstructionsinsomesectionoftheprogramoverand
overagainuntilsomeinternalconditionismet.Thisiscalledtheflowofcontrolwithintheprogramanditiswhat
allowsthecomputertoperformtasksrepeatedlywithouthumanintervention.
Comparatively,apersonusingapocketcalculatorcanperformabasicarithmeticoperationsuchasaddingtwo
numberswithjustafewbuttonpresses.Buttoaddtogetherallofthenumbersfrom1to1,000wouldtake
thousandsofbuttonpressesandalotoftime,withanearcertaintyofmakingamistake.Ontheotherhand,a
computermaybeprogrammedtodothiswithjustafewsimpleinstructions.Thefollowingexampleiswrittenin
theMIPSassemblylanguage:
begin:
addi$8,$0,0#initializesumto0
addi$9,$0,1#setfirstnumbertoadd=1
loop:
slti$10,$9,1000#checkifthenumberislessthan1000
beq$10,$0,finish#ifoddnumberisgreaterthannthenexit
add$8,$8,$9#updatesum
addi$9,$9,1#getnextnumber
jloop#repeatthesummingprocess
finish:
add$2,$8,$0#putsuminoutputregister

Oncetoldtorunthisprogram,thecomputerwillperformtherepetitiveadditiontaskwithoutfurtherhuman
intervention.ItwillalmostnevermakeamistakeandamodernPCcancompletethetaskinafractionofasecond.
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Machinecode
Inmostcomputers,individualinstructionsarestoredasmachinecodewitheachinstructionbeinggivenaunique
number(itsoperationcodeoropcodeforshort).Thecommandtoaddtwonumberstogetherwouldhaveone
opcodethecommandtomultiplythemwouldhaveadifferentopcode,andsoon.Thesimplestcomputersareable
toperformanyofahandfulofdifferentinstructionsthemorecomplexcomputershaveseveralhundredtochoose
from,eachwithauniquenumericalcode.Sincethecomputer'smemoryisabletostorenumbers,itcanalsostore
theinstructioncodes.Thisleadstotheimportantfactthatentireprograms(whicharejustlistsofthese
instructions)canberepresentedaslistsofnumbersandcanthemselvesbemanipulatedinsidethecomputerinthe
samewayasnumericdata.Thefundamentalconceptofstoringprogramsinthecomputer'smemoryalongsidethe
datatheyoperateonisthecruxofthevonNeumann,orstoredprogram,architecture.Insomecases,acomputer
mightstoresomeorallofitsprograminmemorythatiskeptseparatefromthedataitoperateson.Thisiscalled
theHarvardarchitectureaftertheHarvardMarkIcomputer.ModernvonNeumanncomputersdisplaysometraits
oftheHarvardarchitectureintheirdesigns,suchasinCPUcaches.
Whileitispossibletowritecomputerprogramsaslonglistsofnumbers(machinelanguage)andwhilethis
techniquewasusedwithmanyearlycomputers,[56]itisextremelytediousandpotentiallyerrorpronetodosoin
practice,especiallyforcomplicatedprograms.Instead,eachbasicinstructioncanbegivenashortnamethatis
indicativeofitsfunctionandeasytorememberamnemonicsuchasADD,SUB,MULTorJUMP.These
mnemonicsarecollectivelyknownasacomputer'sassemblylanguage.Convertingprogramswritteninassembly
languageintosomethingthecomputercanactuallyunderstand(machinelanguage)isusuallydonebyacomputer
programcalledanassembler.

Programminglanguage
Programminglanguagesprovidevariouswaysofspecifyingprogramsfor
computerstorun.Unlikenaturallanguages,programminglanguagesare
designedtopermitnoambiguityandtobeconcise.Theyarepurelywritten
languagesandareoftendifficulttoreadaloud.Theyaregenerallyeither
translatedintomachinecodebyacompileroranassemblerbeforebeing
run,ortranslateddirectlyatruntimebyaninterpreter.Sometimes
programsareexecutedbyahybridmethodofthetwotechniques.
Lowlevellanguages

A1970spunchedcardcontainingone
linefromaFORTRANprogram.The
cardreads:"Z(1)=Y+W(1)"andis
labeled"PROJ039"foridentification
purposes.

Machinelanguagesandtheassemblylanguagesthatrepresentthem
(collectivelytermedlowlevelprogramminglanguages)tendtobeuniquetoaparticulartypeofcomputer.For
instance,anARMarchitecturecomputer(suchasmaybefoundinasmartphoneorahandheldvideogame)cannot
understandthemachinelanguageofanx86CPUthatmightbeinaPC.[57]
Highlevellanguages/thirdgenerationlanguage
Thoughconsiderablyeasierthaninmachinelanguage,writinglongprogramsinassemblylanguageisoften
difficultandisalsoerrorprone.Therefore,mostpracticalprogramsarewritteninmoreabstracthighlevel
programminglanguagesthatareabletoexpresstheneedsoftheprogrammermoreconveniently(andtherebyhelp
reduceprogrammererror).Highlevellanguagesareusually"compiled"intomachinelanguage(orsometimesinto
assemblylanguageandthenintomachinelanguage)usinganothercomputerprogramcalledacompiler.[58]High
levellanguagesarelessrelatedtotheworkingsofthetargetcomputerthanassemblylanguage,andmorerelatedto
thelanguageandstructureoftheproblem(s)tobesolvedbythefinalprogram.Itisthereforeoftenpossibletouse
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differentcompilerstotranslatethesamehighlevellanguageprogramintothemachinelanguageofmanydifferent
typesofcomputer.Thisispartofthemeansbywhichsoftwarelikevideogamesmaybemadeavailablefor
differentcomputerarchitecturessuchaspersonalcomputersandvariousvideogameconsoles.

Fourthgenerationlanguages
These4Glanguagesarelessproceduralthan3Glanguages.Thebenefitof4GListhattheyprovidewaystoobtain
informationwithoutrequiringthedirecthelpofaprogrammer.Anexampleofa4GLisSQL.

Programdesign
Programdesignofsmallprogramsisrelativelysimpleandinvolvestheanalysisoftheproblem,collectionof
inputs,usingtheprogrammingconstructswithinlanguages,devisingorusingestablishedproceduresand
algorithms,providingdataforoutputdevicesandsolutionstotheproblemasapplicable.Asproblemsbecome
largerandmorecomplex,featuressuchassubprograms,modules,formaldocumentation,andnewparadigmssuch
asobjectorientedprogrammingareencountered.Largeprogramsinvolvingthousandsoflineofcodeandmore
requireformalsoftwaremethodologies.Thetaskofdevelopinglargesoftwaresystemspresentsasignificant
intellectualchallenge.Producingsoftwarewithanacceptablyhighreliabilitywithinapredictablescheduleand
budgethashistoricallybeendifficulttheacademicandprofessionaldisciplineofsoftwareengineering
concentratesspecificallyonthischallenge.

Bugs
Errorsincomputerprogramsarecalled"bugs".Theymaybebenignand
notaffecttheusefulnessoftheprogram,orhaveonlysubtleeffects.Butin
somecases,theymaycausetheprogramortheentiresystemto"hang",
becomingunresponsivetoinputsuchasmouseclicksorkeystrokes,to
completelyfail,ortocrash.Otherwisebenignbugsmaysometimesbe
harnessedformaliciousintentbyanunscrupuloususerwritinganexploit,
codedesignedtotakeadvantageofabuganddisruptacomputer'sproper
execution.Bugsareusuallynotthefaultofthecomputer.Sincecomputers
merelyexecutetheinstructionstheyaregiven,bugsarenearlyalwaysthe
resultofprogrammererrororanoversightmadeintheprogram's
design.[59]AdmiralGraceHopper,anAmericancomputerscientistand
developerofthefirstcompiler,iscreditedforhavingfirstusedtheterm
"bugs"incomputingafteradeadmothwasfoundshortingarelayinthe
HarvardMarkIIcomputerinSeptember1947.[60]

Theactualfirstcomputerbug,amoth
foundtrappedonarelayofthe
HarvardMarkIIcomputer

Components
Ageneralpurposecomputerhasfourmaincomponents:thearithmeticlogicunit(ALU),thecontrolunit,the
memory,andtheinputandoutputdevices(collectivelytermedI/O).Thesepartsareinterconnectedbybuses,often
madeofgroupsofwires.Insideeachofthesepartsarethousandstotrillionsofsmallelectricalcircuitswhichcan
beturnedofforonbymeansofanelectronicswitch.Eachcircuitrepresentsabit(binarydigit)ofinformationso
thatwhenthecircuitisonitrepresentsa"1",andwhenoffitrepresentsa"0"(inpositivelogicrepresentation).The
circuitsarearrangedinlogicgatessothatoneormoreofthecircuitsmaycontrolthestateofoneormoreofthe
othercircuits.

Controlunit
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Thecontrolunit(oftencalledacontrolsystemorcentralcontroller)
managesthecomputer'svariouscomponentsitreadsandinterprets
(decodes)theprograminstructions,transformingthemintocontrolsignals
thatactivateotherpartsofthecomputer.[61]Controlsystemsinadvanced
computersmaychangetheorderofexecutionofsomeinstructionsto
improveperformance.
AkeycomponentcommontoallCPUsistheprogramcounter,aspecial
memorycell(aregister)thatkeepstrackofwhichlocationinmemorythe
nextinstructionistobereadfrom.[62]

Videodemonstratingthestandard
componentsofa"slimline"computer

Thecontrolsystem'sfunctionisasfollowsnotethatthisisasimplified
description,andsomeofthesestepsmaybeperformedconcurrentlyorina
differentorderdependingonthetypeofCPU:
1.Readthecodeforthenextinstructionfromthecellindicatedbythe
programcounter.
Diagramshowinghowaparticular
2.Decodethenumericalcodefortheinstructionintoasetofcommands
MIPSarchitectureinstructionwould
orsignalsforeachoftheothersystems.
bedecodedbythecontrolsystem
3.Incrementtheprogramcountersoitpointstothenextinstruction.
4.Readwhateverdatatheinstructionrequiresfromcellsinmemory(or
perhapsfromaninputdevice).Thelocationofthisrequireddatais
typicallystoredwithintheinstructioncode.
5.ProvidethenecessarydatatoanALUorregister.
6.IftheinstructionrequiresanALUorspecializedhardwaretocomplete,instructthehardwaretoperformthe
requestedoperation.
7.WritetheresultfromtheALUbacktoamemorylocationortoaregisterorperhapsanoutputdevice.
8.Jumpbacktostep(1).
Sincetheprogramcounteris(conceptually)justanothersetofmemorycells,itcanbechangedbycalculations
doneintheALU.Adding100totheprogramcounterwouldcausethenextinstructiontobereadfromaplace100
locationsfurtherdowntheprogram.Instructionsthatmodifytheprogramcounterareoftenknownas"jumps"and
allowforloops(instructionsthatarerepeatedbythecomputer)andoftenconditionalinstructionexecution(both
examplesofcontrolflow).
Thesequenceofoperationsthatthecontrolunitgoesthroughtoprocessaninstructionisinitselflikeashort
computerprogram,andindeed,insomemorecomplexCPUdesigns,thereisanotheryetsmallercomputercalleda
microsequencer,whichrunsamicrocodeprogramthatcausesalloftheseeventstohappen.

Centralprocessingunit(CPU)
Thecontrolunit,ALU,andregistersarecollectivelyknownasacentralprocessingunit(CPU).EarlyCPUswere
composedofmanyseparatecomponentsbutsincethemid1970sCPUshavetypicallybeenconstructedonasingle
integratedcircuitcalledamicroprocessor.

Arithmeticlogicunit(ALU)
TheALUiscapableofperformingtwoclassesofoperations:arithmeticandlogic.[63]Thesetofarithmetic
operationsthataparticularALUsupportsmaybelimitedtoadditionandsubtraction,ormightinclude
multiplication,division,trigonometryfunctionssuchassine,cosine,etc.,andsquareroots.Somecanonlyoperate
onwholenumbers(integers)whilstothersusefloatingpointtorepresentrealnumbers,albeitwithlimited
precision.However,anycomputerthatiscapableofperformingjustthesimplestoperationscanbeprogrammedto
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breakdownthemorecomplexoperationsintosimplestepsthatitcanperform.Therefore,anycomputercanbe
programmedtoperformanyarithmeticoperationalthoughitwilltakemoretimetodosoifitsALUdoesnot
directlysupporttheoperation.AnALUmayalsocomparenumbersandreturnbooleantruthvalues(trueorfalse)
dependingonwhetheroneisequalto,greaterthanorlessthantheother("is64greaterthan65?").Logic
operationsinvolveBooleanlogic:AND,OR,XOR,andNOT.Thesecanbeusefulforcreatingcomplicated
conditionalstatementsandprocessingbooleanlogic.
SuperscalarcomputersmaycontainmultipleALUs,allowingthemtoprocessseveralinstructions
simultaneously.[64]GraphicsprocessorsandcomputerswithSIMDandMIMDfeaturesoftencontainALUsthat
canperformarithmeticonvectorsandmatrices.

Memory
Acomputer'smemorycanbeviewedasalistofcellsintowhichnumbers
canbeplacedorread.Eachcellhasanumbered"address"andcanstorea
singlenumber.Thecomputercanbeinstructedto"putthenumber123into
thecellnumbered1357"orto"addthenumberthatisincell1357tothe
numberthatisincell2468andputtheanswerintocell1595."The
informationstoredinmemorymayrepresentpracticallyanything.Letters,
numbers,evencomputerinstructionscanbeplacedintomemorywithequal
ease.SincetheCPUdoesnotdifferentiatebetweendifferenttypesof
information,itisthesoftware'sresponsibilitytogivesignificancetowhat
thememoryseesasnothingbutaseriesofnumbers.

Magneticcorememorywasthe
computermemoryofchoice
throughoutthe1960s,untilitwas
replacedbysemiconductormemory.

Inalmostallmoderncomputers,eachmemorycellissetuptostorebinary
numbersingroupsofeightbits(calledabyte).Eachbyteisableto
represent256differentnumbers(28=256)eitherfrom0to255or128to
+127.Tostorelargernumbers,severalconsecutivebytesmaybeused
(typically,two,fouroreight).Whennegativenumbersarerequired,theyareusuallystoredintwo'scomplement
notation.Otherarrangementsarepossible,butareusuallynotseenoutsideofspecializedapplicationsorhistorical
contexts.Acomputercanstoreanykindofinformationinmemoryifitcanberepresentednumerically.Modern
computershavebillionsoreventrillionsofbytesofmemory.
TheCPUcontainsaspecialsetofmemorycellscalledregistersthatcanbereadandwrittentomuchmorerapidly
thanthemainmemoryarea.Therearetypicallybetweentwoandonehundredregistersdependingonthetypeof
CPU.Registersareusedforthemostfrequentlyneededdataitemstoavoidhavingtoaccessmainmemoryevery
timedataisneeded.Asdataisconstantlybeingworkedon,reducingtheneedtoaccessmainmemory(whichis
oftenslowcomparedtotheALUandcontrolunits)greatlyincreasesthecomputer'sspeed.
Computermainmemorycomesintwoprincipalvarieties:
randomaccessmemoryorRAM
readonlymemoryorROM
RAMcanbereadandwrittentoanytimetheCPUcommandsit,butROMispreloadedwithdataandsoftwarethat
neverchanges,thereforetheCPUcanonlyreadfromit.ROMistypicallyusedtostorethecomputer'sinitialstart
upinstructions.Ingeneral,thecontentsofRAMareerasedwhenthepowertothecomputeristurnedoff,but
ROMretainsitsdataindefinitely.InaPC,theROMcontainsaspecializedprogramcalledtheBIOSthat
orchestratesloadingthecomputer'soperatingsystemfromtheharddiskdriveintoRAMwheneverthecomputeris
turnedonorreset.Inembeddedcomputers,whichfrequentlydonothavediskdrives,alloftherequiredsoftware
maybestoredinROM.SoftwarestoredinROMisoftencalledfirmware,becauseitisnotionallymorelike
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hardwarethansoftware.FlashmemoryblursthedistinctionbetweenROMandRAM,asitretainsitsdatawhen
turnedoffbutisalsorewritable.ItistypicallymuchslowerthanconventionalROMandRAMhowever,soitsuse
isrestrictedtoapplicationswherehighspeedisunnecessary.[65]
InmoresophisticatedcomputerstheremaybeoneormoreRAMcachememories,whichareslowerthanregisters
butfasterthanmainmemory.Generallycomputerswiththissortofcachearedesignedtomovefrequentlyneeded
dataintothecacheautomatically,oftenwithouttheneedforanyinterventionontheprogrammer'spart.

Input/output(I/O)
I/Oisthemeansbywhichacomputerexchangesinformationwiththe
outsideworld.[66]Devicesthatprovideinputoroutputtothecomputerare
calledperipherals.[67]Onatypicalpersonalcomputer,peripheralsinclude
inputdeviceslikethekeyboardandmouse,andoutputdevicessuchasthe
displayandprinter.Harddiskdrives,floppydiskdrivesandopticaldisc
drivesserveasbothinputandoutputdevices.Computernetworkingis
anotherformofI/O.I/Odevicesareoftencomplexcomputersintheirown
right,withtheirownCPUandmemory.Agraphicsprocessingunitmight
containfiftyormoretinycomputersthatperformthecalculationsnecessary
todisplay3Dgraphics.Moderndesktopcomputerscontainmanysmaller
computersthatassistthemainCPUinperformingI/O.A2016eraflat
screendisplaycontainsitsowncomputercircuitry.

Harddiskdrivesarecommonstorage
devicesusedwithcomputers.

Multitasking
Whileacomputermaybeviewedasrunningonegiganticprogramstoredinitsmainmemory,insomesystemsitis
necessarytogivetheappearanceofrunningseveralprogramssimultaneously.Thisisachievedbymultitaskingi.e.
havingthecomputerswitchrapidlybetweenrunningeachprograminturn.[68]Onemeansbywhichthisisdoneis
withaspecialsignalcalledaninterrupt,whichcanperiodicallycausethecomputertostopexecutinginstructions
whereitwasanddosomethingelseinstead.Byrememberingwhereitwasexecutingpriortotheinterrupt,the
computercanreturntothattasklater.Ifseveralprogramsarerunning"atthesametime".thentheinterrupt
generatormightbecausingseveralhundredinterruptspersecond,causingaprogramswitcheachtime.Since
moderncomputerstypicallyexecuteinstructionsseveralordersofmagnitudefasterthanhumanperception,itmay
appearthatmanyprogramsarerunningatthesametimeeventhoughonlyoneiseverexecutinginanygiven
instant.Thismethodofmultitaskingissometimestermed"timesharing"sinceeachprogramisallocateda"slice"
oftimeinturn.[69]
Beforetheeraofinexpensivecomputers,theprincipaluseformultitaskingwastoallowmanypeopletosharethe
samecomputer.Seemingly,multitaskingwouldcauseacomputerthatisswitchingbetweenseveralprogramsto
runmoreslowly,indirectproportiontothenumberofprogramsitisrunning,butmostprogramsspendmuchof
theirtimewaitingforslowinput/outputdevicestocompletetheirtasks.Ifaprogramiswaitingfortheusertoclick
onthemouseorpressakeyonthekeyboard,thenitwillnottakea"timeslice"untiltheeventitiswaitingforhas
occurred.Thisfreesuptimeforotherprogramstoexecutesothatmanyprogramsmayberunsimultaneously
withoutunacceptablespeedloss.

Multiprocessing
SomecomputersaredesignedtodistributetheirworkacrossseveralCPUsinamultiprocessingconfiguration,a
techniqueonceemployedonlyinlargeandpowerfulmachinessuchassupercomputers,mainframecomputersand
servers.Multiprocessorandmulticore(multipleCPUsonasingleintegratedcircuit)personalandlaptop
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computersarenowwidelyavailable,andarebeingincreasinglyusedin
lowerendmarketsasaresult.
Supercomputersinparticularoftenhavehighlyuniquearchitecturesthat
differsignificantlyfromthebasicstoredprogramarchitectureandfrom
generalpurposecomputers.[70]TheyoftenfeaturethousandsofCPUs,
customizedhighspeedinterconnects,andspecializedcomputinghardware.
Suchdesignstendtobeusefulonlyforspecializedtasksduetothelarge
scaleofprogramorganizationrequiredtosuccessfullyutilizemostofthe
availableresourcesatonce.Supercomputersusuallyseeusageinlarge
scalesimulation,graphicsrendering,andcryptographyapplications,aswell
aswithothersocalled"embarrassinglyparallel"tasks.

Craydesignedmanysupercomputers
thatusedmultiprocessingheavily.

NetworkingandtheInternet
Computershavebeenusedtocoordinateinformationbetweenmultiple
locationssincethe1950s.TheU.S.military'sSAGEsystemwasthefirst
largescaleexampleofsuchasystem,whichledtoanumberofspecial
purposecommercialsystemssuchasSabre.[71]Inthe1970s,computer
engineersatresearchinstitutionsthroughouttheUnitedStatesbegantolink
theircomputerstogetherusingtelecommunicationstechnology.Theeffort
wasfundedbyARPA(nowDARPA),andthecomputernetworkthat
resultedwascalledtheARPANET.[72]Thetechnologiesthatmadethe
Arpanetpossiblespreadandevolved.
Intime,thenetworkspreadbeyondacademicandmilitaryinstitutionsand
becameknownastheInternet.Theemergenceofnetworkinginvolveda
redefinitionofthenatureandboundariesofthecomputer.Computer
Visualizationofaportionofthe
operatingsystemsandapplicationsweremodifiedtoincludetheabilityto
routesontheInternet
defineandaccesstheresourcesofothercomputersonthenetwork,suchas
peripheraldevices,storedinformation,andthelike,asextensionsofthe
resourcesofanindividualcomputer.Initiallythesefacilitieswereavailableprimarilytopeopleworkinginhigh
techenvironments,butinthe1990sthespreadofapplicationslikeemailandtheWorldWideWeb,combinedwith
thedevelopmentofcheap,fastnetworkingtechnologieslikeEthernetandADSLsawcomputernetworking
becomealmostubiquitous.Infact,thenumberofcomputersthatarenetworkedisgrowingphenomenally.Avery
largeproportionofpersonalcomputersregularlyconnecttotheInternettocommunicateandreceiveinformation.
"Wireless"networking,oftenutilizingmobilephonenetworks,hasmeantnetworkingisbecomingincreasingly
ubiquitouseveninmobilecomputingenvironments.

Computerarchitectureparadigms
Therearemanytypesofcomputerarchitectures:
Quantumcomputervs.Chemicalcomputer
Scalarprocessorvs.Vectorprocessor
NonUniformMemoryAccess(NUMA)computers
Registermachinevs.Stackmachine
Harvardarchitecturevs.vonNeumannarchitecture
Cellulararchitecture

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Ofalltheseabstractmachines,aquantumcomputerholdsthemostpromiseforrevolutionizingcomputing.[73]
Logicgatesareacommonabstractionwhichcanapplytomostoftheabovedigitaloranalogparadigms.The
abilitytostoreandexecutelistsofinstructionscalledprogramsmakescomputersextremelyversatile,
distinguishingthemfromcalculators.TheChurchTuringthesisisamathematicalstatementofthisversatility:any
computerwithaminimumcapability(beingTuringcomplete)is,inprinciple,capableofperformingthesame
tasksthatanyothercomputercanperform.Therefore,anytypeofcomputer(netbook,supercomputer,cellular
automaton,etc.)isabletoperformthesamecomputationaltasks,givenenoughtimeandstoragecapacity.

Misconceptions
Acomputerdoesnotneedtobeelectronic,norevenhaveaprocessor,nor
RAM,norevenaharddisk.Whilepopularusageoftheword"computer"is
synonymouswithapersonalelectroniccomputer,themodern[74]definition
ofacomputerisliterally:"Adevicethatcomputes,especiallya
programmable[usually]electronicmachinethatperformshighspeed
mathematicalorlogicaloperationsorthatassembles,stores,correlates,or
otherwiseprocessesinformation."[75]Anydevicewhichprocesses
informationqualifiesasacomputer,especiallyiftheprocessingis
purposeful.

Unconventionalcomputing

WomenascomputersinNACAHigh
SpeedFlightStation"Computer
Room"

Historically,computersevolvedfrommechanicalcomputersandeventually
fromvacuumtubestotransistors.However,conceptuallycomputational
systemsasflexibleasapersonalcomputercanbebuiltoutofalmostanything.Forexample,acomputercanbe
madeoutofbilliardballs(billiardballcomputer)anoftenquotedexample.Morerealistically,moderncomputers
aremadeoutoftransistorsmadeofphotolithographedsemiconductors.

Future
Thereisactiveresearchtomakecomputersoutofmanypromisingnewtypesoftechnology,suchasoptical
computers,DNAcomputers,neuralcomputers,andquantumcomputers.Mostcomputersareuniversal,andare
abletocalculateanycomputablefunction,andarelimitedonlybytheirmemorycapacityandoperatingspeed.
Howeverdifferentdesignsofcomputerscangiveverydifferentperformanceforparticularproblemsforexample
quantumcomputerscanpotentiallybreaksomemodernencryptionalgorithms(byquantumfactoring)very
quickly.

Furthertopics
Glossaryofcomputers

Artificialintelligence
Acomputerwillsolveproblemsinexactlythewayitisprogrammedto,withoutregardtoefficiency,alternative
solutions,possibleshortcuts,orpossibleerrorsinthecode.Computerprogramsthatlearnandadaptarepartofthe
emergingfieldofartificialintelligenceandmachinelearning.

Hardware
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Thetermhardwarecoversallofthosepartsofacomputerthataretangiblephysicalobjects.Circuits,computer
chips,graphiccards,soundcards,memory(RAM),motherboard,displays,powersupplies,cables,keyboards,
printersand"mice"inputdevicesareallhardware.

Historyofcomputinghardware

Firstgeneration
(mechanical/electromechanical)

Secondgeneration(vacuum
tubes)

Thirdgeneration(discrete
transistorsandSSI,MSI,LSI
integratedcircuits)

Fourthgeneration(VLSI
integratedcircuits)

Theoretical/experimental

Calculators

Pascal'scalculator,Arithmometer,Difference
engine,Quevedo'sanalyticalmachines

Programmabledevices

Jacquardloom,Analyticalengine,IBM
ASCC/HarvardMarkI,HarvardMarkII,IBM
SSEC,Z1,Z2,Z3

Calculators

AtanasoffBerryComputer,IBM604,UNIVAC60,
UNIVAC120

Programmabledevices

Colossus,ENIAC,ManchesterSmallScale
ExperimentalMachine,EDSAC,ManchesterMark
1,FerrantiPegasus,FerrantiMercury,CSIRAC,
EDVAC,UNIVACI,IBM701,IBM702,IBM650,
Z22

Mainframes

IBM7090,IBM7080,IBMSystem/360,BUNCH

Minicomputer

HP2116A,IBMSystem/32,IBMSystem/36,LINC,
PDP8,PDP11

Minicomputer

VAX,IBMSystemi

4bitmicrocomputer

Intel4004,Intel4040

8bitmicrocomputer

Intel8008,Intel8080,Motorola6800,Motorola
6809,MOSTechnology6502,ZilogZ80

16bitmicrocomputer

Intel8088,ZilogZ8000,WDC65816/65802

32bitmicrocomputer

Intel80386,Pentium,Motorola68000,ARM

64bitmicrocomputer[76]

Alpha,MIPS,PARISC,PowerPC,SPARC,x8664,
ARMv8A

Embeddedcomputer

Intel8048,Intel8051

Personalcomputer

Desktopcomputer,Homecomputer,Laptop
computer,Personaldigitalassistant(PDA),Portable
computer,TabletPC,Wearablecomputer

Quantumcomputer,
Chemicalcomputer,DNA
computing,Optical
computer,Spintronics
basedcomputer

Otherhardwaretopics

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Peripheraldevice
(input/output)

Computerbuses

ComputerWikipedia

Input

Mouse,keyboard,joystick,imagescanner,webcam,
graphicstablet,microphone

Output

Monitor,printer,loudspeaker

Both

Floppydiskdrive,harddiskdrive,opticaldiscdrive,
teleprinter

Shortrange

RS232,SCSI,PCI,USB

Longrange(computer
networking)

Ethernet,ATM,FDDI

Software
Softwarereferstopartsofthecomputerwhichdonothaveamaterialform,suchasprograms,data,protocols,etc.
Softwareisthatpartofacomputersystemthatconsistsofencodedinformationorcomputerinstructions,in
contrasttothephysicalhardwarefromwhichthesystemisbuilt.Computersoftwareincludescomputerprograms,
librariesandrelatednonexecutabledata,suchasonlinedocumentationordigitalmedia.Computerhardwareand
softwarerequireeachotherandneithercanberealisticallyusedonitsown.Whensoftwareisstoredinhardware
thatcannoteasilybemodified,suchaswithBIOSROMinanIBMPCcompatible)computer,itissometimes
called"firmware".

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Unixand
BSD

UNIXSystemV,IBMAIX,HPUX,Solaris(SunOS),IRIX,ListofBSD
operatingsystems

GNU/Linux

ListofLinuxdistributions,ComparisonofLinuxdistributions

Microsoft
Operating
Windows
system/System
DOS
Software
MacOS
Embedded
andrealtime

Windows95,Windows98,WindowsNT,Windows2000,WindowsMe,
WindowsXP,WindowsVista,Windows7,Windows8,Windows10
86DOS(QDOS),IBMPCDOS,MSDOS,DRDOS,FreeDOS
MacOSclassic,MacOSX
Listofembeddedoperatingsystems

Experimental Amoeba,Oberon/Bluebottle,Plan9fromBellLabs
Multimedia
Library

Data

Userinterface

DirectX,OpenGL,OpenAL,Vulkan(API)

Programming
Cstandardlibrary,StandardTemplateLibrary
library
Protocol

TCP/IP,Kermit,FTP,HTTP,SMTP

Fileformat

HTML,XML,JPEG,MPEG,PNG

Graphicaluser
interface
MicrosoftWindows,GNOME,KDE,QNXPhoton,CDE,GEM,Aqua
(WIMP)
Textbased
Commandlineinterface,Textuserinterface
userinterface
Officesuite

Wordprocessing,Desktoppublishing,Presentationprogram,Database
managementsystem,Scheduling&Timemanagement,Spreadsheet,Accounting
software

Internet
Access

Browser,Emailclient,Webserver,Mailtransferagent,Instantmessaging

Designand
Computeraideddesign,Computeraidedmanufacturing,Plantmanagement,
manufacturing Roboticmanufacturing,Supplychainmanagement
Application
Software

Graphics

Rastergraphicseditor,Vectorgraphicseditor,3Dmodeler,Animationeditor,3D
computergraphics,Videoediting,Imageprocessing

Audio

Digitalaudioeditor,Audioplayback,Mixing,Audiosynthesis,Computermusic

Software
engineering

Compiler,Assembler,Interpreter,Debugger,Texteditor,Integrateddevelopment
environment,Softwareperformanceanalysis,Revisioncontrol,Software
configurationmanagement

Educational

Edutainment,Educationalgame,Seriousgame,Flightsimulator

Games

Strategy,Arcade,Puzzle,Simulation,Firstpersonshooter,Platform,Massively
multiplayer,Interactivefiction

Misc

Artificialintelligence,Antivirussoftware,Malwarescanner,Installer/Package
managementsystems,Filemanager

Languages
Therearethousandsofdifferentprogramminglanguagessomeintendedtobegeneralpurpose,othersusefulonly
forhighlyspecializedapplications.

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Programminglanguages
Timelineofprogramminglanguages,Listofprogramminglanguagesbycategory,
Listsofprogramming
Generationallistofprogramminglanguages,Listofprogramminglanguages,Non
languages
Englishbasedprogramminglanguages
Commonlyused
assemblylanguages

ARM,MIPS,x86

Commonlyusedhigh
Ada,BASIC,C,C++,C#,COBOL,Fortran,PL/1,REXX,Java,Lisp,Pascal,Object
levelprogramming
Pascal
languages
Commonlyused
scriptinglanguages

Bournescript,JavaScript,Python,Ruby,PHP,Perl

Firmware
FirmwareisthetechnologywhichhasthecombinationofbothhardwareandsoftwaresuchasBIOSchipinsidea
computer.Thischip(hardware)islocatedonthemotherboardandhastheBIOSsetup(software)storedinit.

Types
Computersaretypicallyclassifiedbasedontheiruses:

Basedonuses
Analogcomputer
Digitalcomputer
Hybridcomputer

Basedonsizes
Smartphone
Microcomputer
Personalcomputer
Laptop
MiniComputer
Mainframecomputer
Supercomputer

Inputdevices
Whenunprocesseddataissenttothecomputerwiththehelpofinputdevices,thedataisprocessedandsentto
outputdevices.Theinputdevicesmaybehandoperatedorautomated.Theactofprocessingismainlyregulated
bytheCPU.Someexamplesofhandoperatedinputdevicesare:
Computerkeyboard
Digitalcamera
Digitalvideo
Graphicstablet
Imagescanner
Joystick
Microphone
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Mouse
Overlaykeyboard
Trackball
Touchscreen

Outputdevices
Themeansthroughwhichcomputergivesoutputareknownasoutputdevices.Someexamplesofoutputdevices
are:
Computermonitor
Printer
PCspeaker
Projector
Soundcard
Videocard

Professionsandorganizations
Astheuseofcomputershasspreadthroughoutsociety,thereareanincreasingnumberofcareersinvolving
computers.
Computerrelatedprofessions
Hardware Electricalengineering,Electronicengineering,Computerengineering,Telecommunications
related
engineering,Opticalengineering,Nanoengineering
Computerscience,Computerengineering,Desktoppublishing,Humancomputerinteraction,
Software
Informationtechnology,Informationsystems,Computationalscience,Softwareengineering,Video
related
gameindustry,Webdesign
Theneedforcomputerstoworkwelltogetherandtobeabletoexchangeinformationhasspawnedtheneedfor
manystandardsorganizations,clubsandsocietiesofbothaformalandinformalnature.
Standardsgroups

Organizations
ANSI,IEC,IEEE,IETF,ISO,W3C

Professionalsocieties

ACM,AIS,IET,IFIP,BCS

Free/opensourcesoftwaregroups FreeSoftwareFoundation,MozillaFoundation,ApacheSoftwareFoundation

Seealso
Computabilitytheory
Computerinsecurity
Computersecurity
Glossaryofcomputerhardwareterms
Historyofcomputerscience
Listofcomputertermetymologies
Listoffictionalcomputers
Listofpioneersincomputerscience
Pulsecomputation
TOP500(listofmostpowerfulcomputers)
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Notes
1."computer,n.".OxfordEnglishDictionary(2ed.).OxfordUniversityPress.1989.Retrieved10April2009.
2."computer(n.)".OnlineEtymologyDictionary.
3.AccordingtoSchmandtBesserat1981,theseclaycontainerscontainedtokens,thetotalofwhichwerethecountof
objectsbeingtransferred.Thecontainersthusservedassomethingofabillofladingoranaccountsbook.Inorderto
avoidbreakingopenthecontainers,first,clayimpressionsofthetokenswereplacedontheoutsideofthecontainers,for
thecounttheshapesoftheimpressionswereabstractedintostylizedmarksfinally,theabstractmarkswere
systematicallyusedasnumeralsthesenumeralswerefinallyformalizedasnumbers.Eventually(SchmandtBesserat
estimatesittook4000years(http://www.laits.utexas.edu/ghazal/Chap1/dsb/chapter1.html)Archived(https://web.archive.
org/web/20120130084757/http://www.laits.utexas.edu/ghazal/Chap1/dsb/chapter1.html)30January2012attheWayback
Machine.Archived(https://web.archive.org/web/20120130084757/http://www.laits.utexas.edu/ghazal/Chap1/dsb/chapter1.
html)30January2012attheWaybackMachine.)themarksontheoutsideofthecontainerswereallthatwereneededto
conveythecount,andtheclaycontainersevolvedintoclaytabletswithmarksforthecount.Archived(https://web.archiv
e.org/web/20120130084757/http://www.laits.utexas.edu/ghazal/Chap1/dsb/chapter1.html)30January2012attheWayback
Machine.
4.Robson,Eleanor(2008),MathematicsinAncientIraq,ISBN9780691091822.p.5:calculiwereinuseinIraqfor
primitiveaccountingsystemsasearlyas32003000BCE,withcommodityspecificcountingrepresentationsystems.
Balancedaccountingwasinuseby30002350BCE,andasexagesimalnumbersystemwasinuse23502000BCE.
5.TheAntikytheraMechanismResearchProject(http://www.antikytheramechanism.gr/project/general/theproject.html),
TheAntikytheraMechanismResearchProject.Retrieved1July2007.
6.G.Wiet,V.Elisseeff,P.Wolff,J.Naudu(1975).HistoryofMankind,Vol3:TheGreatmedievalCivilisations,p.649.
GeorgeAllen&UnwinLtd,UNESCO.
7.FuatSezgin"CatalogueoftheExhibitionoftheInstitutefortheHistoryofArabicIslamicScience(attheJohann
WolfgangGoetheUniversity",Frankfurt,Germany)FrankfurtBookFair2004,p.35&38.
8.FranoisCharette,Archaeology:HightechfromAncientGreece,Nature444,551552(30November2006),
doi:10.1038/444551a[1](http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7119/fig_tab/444551a_F2.html)
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13."TheWriterAutomaton,Switzerland".chonday.com.11July2013.
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39.EarlyElectronicComputers(194651),UniversityofManchester,retrieved16November2008
40.Napper,R.B.E.,IntroductiontotheMark1,TheUniversityofManchester,retrieved4November2008
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45.CookeYarborough,E.H.(1957).IntroductiontoTransistorCircuits.Edinburgh:OliverandBoyd.p.139.
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hisisthesad.html)Archived(https://web.archive.org/web/20130511181443/http://www.epnonline.com/page/22909/the
haplesstaleofgeoffreydummerthisisthesad.html)11May2013attheWaybackMachine.Archived(https://web.arch
ive.org/web/20130511181443/http://www.epnonline.com/page/22909/thehaplesstaleofgeoffreydummerthisisthesad
.html)11May2013attheWaybackMachine.,(n.d.),(HTML),ElectronicProductNews,accessed8July2008.
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47.Kilby,Jack(2000),Nobellecture(PDF),Stockholm:NobelFoundation,retrieved20080515
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52.Intel_4004(November1971),Intel'sFirstMicroprocessortheIntel4004,IntelCorp.,archivedfromtheoriginalon13
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53.TheIntel4004(1971)diewas12mm2,composedof2300transistorsbycomparison,thePentiumProwas306mm2,
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56.Evensomelatercomputerswerecommonlyprogrammeddirectlyinmachinecode.SomeminicomputersliketheDEC
PDP8couldbeprogrammeddirectlyfromapanelofswitches.However,thismethodwasusuallyusedonlyaspartof
thebootingprocess.Mostmoderncomputersbootentirelyautomaticallybyreadingabootprogramfromsomenon
volatilememory.
57.However,thereissometimessomeformofmachinelanguagecompatibilitybetweendifferentcomputers.Anx8664
compatiblemicroprocessorliketheAMDAthlon64isabletorunmostofthesameprogramsthatanIntelCore2
microprocessorcan,aswellasprogramsdesignedforearliermicroprocessorsliketheIntelPentiumsandIntel80486.
Thiscontrastswithveryearlycommercialcomputers,whichwereoftenoneofakindandtotallyincompatiblewithother
computers.
58.Highlevellanguagesarealsoofteninterpretedratherthancompiled.Interpretedlanguagesaretranslatedintomachine
codeonthefly,whilerunning,byanotherprogramcalledaninterpreter.
59.Itisnotuniversallytruethatbugsaresolelyduetoprogrammeroversight.Computerhardwaremayfailormayitself
haveafundamentalproblemthatproducesunexpectedresultsincertainsituations.Forinstance,thePentiumFDIVbug
causedsomeIntelmicroprocessorsintheearly1990stoproduceinaccurateresultsforcertainfloatingpointdivision
operations.Thiswascausedbyaflawinthemicroprocessordesignandresultedinapartialrecalloftheaffecteddevices.
60.Taylor,AlexanderL.,III(16April1984)."TheWizardInsidetheMachine".TIME.Retrieved17February2007.
(subscriptionrequired)

61.Thecontrolunit'sroleininterpretinginstructionshasvariedsomewhatinthepast.Althoughthecontrolunitissolely
responsibleforinstructioninterpretationinmostmoderncomputers,thisisnotalwaysthecase.Somecomputershave
instructionsthatarepartiallyinterpretedbythecontrolunitwithfurtherinterpretationperformedbyanotherdevice.For
example,EDVAC,oneoftheearlieststoredprogramcomputers,usedacentralcontrolunitthatonlyinterpretedfour
instructions.Allofthearithmeticrelatedinstructionswerepassedontoitsarithmeticunitandfurtherdecodedthere.
62.Instructionsoftenoccupymorethanonememoryaddress,thereforetheprogramcounterusuallyincreasesbythenumber
ofmemorylocationsrequiredtostoreoneinstruction.
63.DavidJ.Eck(2000).TheMostComplexMachine:ASurveyofComputersandComputing.AKPeters,Ltd.p.54.
ISBN9781568811284.
64.ErricosJohnKontoghiorghes(2006).HandbookofParallelComputingandStatistics.CRCPress.p.45.ISBN9780
824740672.
65.Flashmemoryalsomayonlyberewrittenalimitednumberoftimesbeforewearingout,makingitlessusefulforheavy
randomaccessusage.(Verma&Mielke1988)
66.DonaldEadie(1968).IntroductiontotheBasicComputer.PrenticeHall.p.12.
67.ArpadBarnaDanI.Porat(1976).IntroductiontoMicrocomputersandtheMicroprocessors.Wiley.p.85.ISBN9780
471050513.
68.JerryPeekGraceTodinoJohnStrang(2002).LearningtheUNIXOperatingSystem:AConciseGuidefortheNew
User.O'Reilly.p.130.ISBN9780596002619.
69.GillianM.Davis(2002).NoiseReductioninSpeechApplications.CRCPress.p.111.ISBN9780849309496.
70.However,itisalsoverycommontoconstructsupercomputersoutofmanypiecesofcheapcommodityhardwareusually
individualcomputersconnectedbynetworks.Thesesocalledcomputerclusterscanoftenprovidesupercomputer
performanceatamuchlowercostthancustomizeddesigns.Whilecustomarchitecturesarestillusedformostofthemost
powerfulsupercomputers,therehasbeenaproliferationofclustercomputersinrecentyears.(TOP5002006)
71.AgathaC.Hughes(2000).Systems,Experts,andComputers.MITPress.p.161.ISBN9780262082853."The
experienceofSAGEhelpedmakepossiblethefirsttrulylargescalecommercialrealtimenetwork:theSABRE
computerizedairlinereservationssystem..."
72."ABriefHistoryoftheInternet".InternetSociety.Retrieved20September2008.
73."Computerarchitecture:fundamentalsandprinciplesofcomputerdesign"(https://books.google.com/books?id=ZWaUurO
wMPQC&q=quantum+computers&dq=insufficient+address+computer+architecture&source=gbs_word_cloud_r&cad=3#v
=snippet&q=quantum%20computers&f=false)byJosephD.Dumas2006.page340.
74.AccordingtotheShorterOxfordEnglishDictionary(6thed,2007),thewordcomputerdatesbacktothemid17th
century,whenitreferredto"Apersonwhomakescalculationsspecificallyapersonemployedforthisinanobservatory
etc."
75."Definitionofcomputer".Thefreedictionary.com.Retrieved29January2012.
76.Mostmajor64bitinstructionsetarchitecturesareextensionsofearlierdesigns.Allofthearchitectureslistedinthis
table,exceptforAlpha,existedin32bitformsbeforetheir64bitincarnationswereintroduced.

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