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The Social Effects Of The Computer

1618 words - 7 pages

Every person living in a modern society is affected in some way by advancements in technology. Some of these new technologies have made it possible to communicate easier, quicker, and more efficiently. One of these technologies is the computer, which has made an enormous impact on society. It has changed the way we communicate and the way that we live our lives.There were many technologies that lead up to and paved the way for the invention of the computer that we know today. In the early 1600's, an English clergyman named William Oughtred invented the slide rule. This device allowed the user to multiply and divide by sliding two pieces of wood together. The slide rule is an early example of ...view middle of the document...

An important step towards the invention of the modern day computer was the discovery of ways to harness electricity. Because of this, information and knowledge could now be turned into electrical impulses. Herman Hollerith first combined electricity and mechanical computing machines in the late 1880's( Laudon 43). By 1890, he had invented a machine that could automatically sort census cards into a number of categories using electrical sensing devices to read the punched holes in each card. This invention made it possible to count the millions of cards and also to categorize the US population into relevant groups. The company that he founded to manufacture and sell his invention eventually became International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), who was a leader in punch card machines, and later computers (Laudon 43). Following this invention, in the early 20th century people were still looking for help with calculations and large amounts of paperwork. In the late 1930's and early 1940's, a man named Howard Aiken decided to try to combine Hollerith's punched-card technology with Babbage's dream of a computing machine. With funding he received from IBM, he built the Mark I. The machine was 51 feet long, 8 feet high, and contained 750,00 parts, 500 miles of wire, and 3 million electrical connections. It worked, but it was obsolete before it was finished in 1944 (Laudon 43).There is a disagreement over who built the first electronic digital computer. Scientists around the world began to realize that electronic vacuum tubes could be used to replace electromechanical parts. In England in 1943, a man named Alan Turing helped to build a machine called Colossus. The machine was built to break German codes, and it used 1,800 vacuum tubes to compare, count, and perform simple arithmetic. Even though it was a special-purpose machine, it represented a breakthrough in showing that vacuum tubes could be used for high-speed data processing (Laudon 44). The U.S Army awarded John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert a contract to build a computer for them to help in calculating firing tables in 1943. The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC) took two years to assemble. It was unveiled to the press in early 1946. It weighed 30 tons and was 100 feet long, 10 feet high, and 3 feet deep (Laudon 43). The machine could not, however, store program instructions in its memory.What followed this invention were four generations of digital computing over the past 50 years or so. The first generation of computers used vacuum tubes as their main element of logic. Although they were better than electromechanical technology, they were not reliable, used a lot of electricity, and produced a lot of heat (Laudon 45). Also, their large size made the machines huge overall.The second generation of computers used transistors in the place of vacuum tubes. They performed the same functions but they were much smaller, more reliable, and they did not use as much electricity and...

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