geändert / updated: 17/04/08


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History of computing
(frei nach Rheingold, H.: Tools for thought, Cambridge, Mass. 2000)

1833 Charles Babbage
invents the Analytical Engine as predecessor of modern computers with punched cards as input-devices, an idea used already by Jaquard in his mechanical weaving machines

~ 1840 Ada Lovelace
invents programmable instructions, i.e. subroutines, loops and jumps (the if-clauses)

1854 George Boole
publishes his Laws of Thought in which he identifies logic with mathematics, thereby developing Boolean logic as set of computable operations based on exactly two values, "the universe" and "nothing"

~ 1890 Hermann Hollerith
founds a company later to be known as IBM and develops machines for automated data processing by programmable mechanic sorting, the Hollerith machines

1936 Alan Mathison Turing
thinks of a machine that processes symbols rather than mere data and which is programmable, thereby the Turing machine becomes one which is able to solve any problem which is translatable into formulae

1939 John Vincent Atanasoff
builds with a colleague the Atanasoff-Berry-Calculator, the first machine that uses electron tubes instead of mechanic switches for operations

(1943) Norbert Wiener et al.
publish Behaviour, Purpose and Teleology in which they claim that mechanic as well as nervous systems function self-regulating via feedback, thereby laying the foundation for the science of cybernetics

1946 John von Neumann
develops the Logical Design of computing machines; according to the concept instructions and data are interchangeable variables that may be stored in specified locations of the machine, thereby stored programming is introduced; secondly it links the handling of instructions and data to an internal clock - every tick an instruction, every tock a piece of data

(1948) Claude Shannon
publishes his Mathematical Theory of Information which gives an understanding of information as order or non-entropy, thereby paving the way especially for (electronic) tele-communication and broadcasting

1950s first transistors are used instead of electron tubes

1960s first integrated circuits are used instead of transistors

1960 Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider
invents modelling rather than data-processing machines; the concept means that a user shall get different visualised solutions to a formulated problem according to different input variables; technically it conjures up the problem of timely interaction with the machine which is solved by time-"sharing": a user (or more than one) may change variables within the internal clock's time cycles, therefore given a fast enough clock, it looks like simultaneously working on different tasks to a user (or users)

1962 Ivan Sutherland
develops Sketchpad, a programme which enables a user to interact with a computer via a light-pen and a screen in (seemingly) "real-time"

1963 - 1968 Doug Engelbart
develops the concept of Knowledge Augmentation, i.e. computers shall be used not only for problem-solving or modelling but to increase accessible knowledge; the ideas of networks, terminals of centralised powerful computers as well as the mouse and the keyboard as input devices stem from works of the Augmentation Research Center of the Stanford Research Institute, the former being funded by the United States government through its Advanced Research Projects Agency

1970 - 1974 Bob Taylor
builds the first Personal Computer in 1974, i.e. a machine that uses mouse and keyboard as input devices and a screen, however functions not only as terminal but as stand-alone machine; his research has been made possible by Xerox that founded the Palo Alto Research Center in 1970

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