A computer is a general purpose device that can be programmed to carry out a finite set of arithmetic or logical operations. Since a sequence of operations can be readily changed, the computer can solve more than one kind of problem.
Conventionally, a computer consists of at least one processing element, typically a central processing unit (CPU) and some form of memory. The processing element carries out arithmetic and logic operations, and a sequencing and control unit that can change the order of operations based on stored information. Peripheral devices allow information to be retrieved from an external source, and the result of operations saved and retrieved.
The first electronic ...view middle of the document...
5 Program design
3 Components 3.1 Control unit
3.2 Arithmetic logic unit (ALU)
3.4 Input/output (I/O)
3.7 Networking and the Internet
3.8 Computer architecture paradigms
4 Misconceptions 4.1 Required technology
5 Further topics 5.1 Artificial intelligence
5.2 Hardware 5.2.1 History of computing hardware
5.2.2 Other hardware topics
5.5 Professions and organizations
6 See also
9 External links
History of computing
The Jacquard loom, on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England, was one of the first programmable devices.
Main article: History of computing hardware
The first use of the word “computer” was recorded in 1613 in a book called “The yong mans gleanings” by English writer Richard Braithwait I haue read the truest computer of Times, and the best Arithmetician that euer breathed, and he reduceth thy dayes into a short number. It referred to a person who carried out calculations, or computations, and the word continued with the same meaning until the middle of the 20th century. From the end of the 19th century the word began to take on its more familiar meaning, a machine that carries out computations.
Limited-function early computers
The history of the modern computer begins with two separate technologies, automated calculation and programmability. However no single device can be identified as the earliest computer, partly because of the inconsistent application of that term. A few devices are worth mentioning though, like some mechanical aids to computing, which were very successful and survived for centuries until the advent of the electronic calculator, like the Sumerian abacus, designed around 2500 BC of which a descendant won a speed competition against a modern desk calculating machine in Japan in 1946, the slide rules, invented in the 1620s, which were carried on five Apollo space missions, including to the moon and arguably the astrolabe and the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient astronomical computer built by the Greeks around 80 BC. The Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria (c. 10–70 AD) built a mechanical theater which performed a play lasting 10 minutes and was operated by a complex system of ropes and drums that might be considered to be a means of deciding which parts of the mechanism performed which actions and when. This is the essence of programmability.
Around the end of the 10th century, the French monk Gerbert d'Aurillac brought back from Spain the drawings of a machine invented by the Moors that answered either Yes or No to the questions it was asked. Again in the 13th century, the monks Albertus Magnus and Roger Bacon built talking androids without any further development (Albertus Magnus complained that he had wasted forty years of his life when Thomas Aquinas, terrified by his machine, destroyed...