The decade of the 1980's saw an explosion in computer technology and computer usage that deeply changed society. Today computers are a part of everyday life, they are in their simplest form a digital watch or more complexly computers manage power grids, telephone networks, and the money of the world. Henry Grunwald, former US ambassador to Austria best describes the computer's functions, "It enables the mind to ask questions, find answers, stockpile knowledge, and devise plans to move mountains, if not worlds." Society has embraced the computer and accepted it for its many powers which can be used for business, education, research, and warfare.
The first mechanical calculator, a system of moving beads called the abacus, was invented in Babylonia around 500 BC. The abacus provided the fastest method of calculating until 1642, when the French scientist Pascal invented a calculator made of wheels and cogs. The concept of the modern computer was first outlined in 1833 by the British mathematician Charles Babbage.
His design of an analytical engine contained all of the necessary components of a modern computer: input devices, a memory, a control unit, and output devices. Most of the actions of the analytical engine were to be done through the use of punched cards. Even though Babbage worked on the analytical engine for nearly 40 years, he never actually made a working machine.
In 1889 Herman Hollerith, an American inventor, patented a calculating machine that counted, collated, and sorted information stored on punched cards. His machine was first used to help sort statistical information for the 1890 United States census. In 1896 Hollerith founded the Tabulating Machine Company to produce similar machines. In 1924, the company changed its name to International Business Machines Corporation. IBM made punch-card office machinery that dominated business until the late 1960s, when...