Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Computers and Humankind
At first glance, the average person would be familiar with only the last 30 years of computer history. In fact, the origins of the computer, in the way of simple counting aids, date back at least 2,000 years. The abacus was invented around the 4th century BC, in Babylonia (now Iraq). Another device called the Antikythera mechanism was used for registering and predicting the motion of the stars and planets around the 1st century BC. Wilhelm Schickard built the first mechanical calculator in 1623, but the device never made it past the prototype stage. This calculator could work with six digits and carry digits across columns. First-generation computers (1939–1954) used vacuum tubes to compute. The simple vacuum tube had been developed by John Ambrose Fleming, in 1904. The vacuum tube was used in radios and other electronic devices throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s. Most computer developments during this ...