An Illustrated History of Computers

The first computers were people! That is, electronic computers (and the earlier mechanical computers) were given this name because they performed the work that had previously been assigned to people. "Computer" was originally a job titole: it was used to describe those humaan beings (predominantly women) whose job it was to perform the repetitive calculations required to compute such things as navigational tables, tide charts, and planetary positions for astronomical almanacs. Imagine you had a job where hour after hour, day after day, you were to do nothing but compute multiplications. Boredom would quickly set in, leading to carelessness, leading to mistakes. And even on your best days you wouldn't be producing answers very fast. Therefore, inventors have been searching for hundreds of yeears for a way to mechanize (that is, find a mechanism that can perform) this task.
The abacus was an early aid for mathematical computations. Its only value is that it aids the memory of the human p...

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