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The History of Computers

A fascinating program that traces the course of technological innovations leading up to computers of today. 

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Description

The history of computers is not just the story of a specialized machine but of a great idea and the people who made it happen. Initially designed as large-scale calculators, computers have quickly become indispensable tools in every field of endeavor. This fascinating program traces the course of technological innovations leading up to today’s computers, from Charles Babbage and his analytical engine of the 1860s to 21st-century PCs.

All the major concepts, advances, and companies are explored using demonstrations, expert commentary, and historic film footage and interviews. The program shows how ideas such as Boolean logic, the binary system, magnetic/iron core memory, and microprocessors have dramatically increased the capacity of computers while drastically reducing their size, a phenomenon known as Moore's Law. The personal computer or PC boom is easily seen as an inevitable event, with software programmers such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates emerging as its leaders.

Video Segments

1. The Origin of the Computer A computer is a machine that does computation, has memory and storage, and is capable of input and output. Konrad Zuse is credited with developing the first computer in 1941.
2. The Harvard Mark I Calculator During WWII, the Harvard Mark I calculator is used primarily for military computations. Grace Hopper is the first to program the Mark I computer.
3. The ENIAC The ENIAC is developed in the mid 1940's at the University of Pennsylvania. It weighs thirty tons but can perform over five thousand calculations per second.
4. First Stored Programs The first stored program is run on the Manchester Mark I in 1948. The EDVAC, which can also store programs, is completed at a later date.
5. The UNIVAC and the BINAC In 1949, the BINAC computer is completed for military applications. The UNIVAC, or Universal Automatic Computer, is the first computer to be sold to businesses.
6. Iron Core Memory Using magnetism rather than vacuum tubes, developers greatly increase the speed of computers. IBM is the first company to build and sell computers using magnetic memory.
7. The Next Generation The transistor is first developed in 1947 at Bell Labs. Transistors have the advantage of being reliable, inexpensive, and small in size.
8. The IBM System 360 The IBM System 360 allows companies to buy small and upgrade computers as needed. The Digital Equipment Corporation, or DEC, builds the first smaller transistorized computers.
9. Integrated Circuits Integrated circuits greatly increase the power of computers while reducing their size. During the 1960s, integrated circuits are used in the U.S. space program.
10. The Microprocessor The Altair is the first personal computer. The need for programming language and an operating system is solved by Microsoft's Paul Allen and Bill Gates.
11. The Apple Computer and IBM The first computer to generate color graphics, the Apple II computer, is introduced in 1977. When IBM introduces its personal computer, it uses MS/DOS as its operating system.
12. The Macintosh Computer The Apple Macintosh creates the first user friendly graphics, and Microsoft then develops the Windows operating system to compete with the Macintosh.
13. Smaller Computers, More Power As computers develop, they become smaller and more powerful. The development of the Internet allows computers to talk to one another.
14. The Future of Computers The future of computers might include forms of artificial intelligence, lasers to store and retrieve information, and vast networks of computers working together.

 

Specifications

Grade: 6-8, 9-12

The History of Computers (DVD)
© 2001
Time: 26 Minutes

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