American computer Industry

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America and the Computer Industry

Only once in a lifetime will a new invention come about to touch every aspect of our lives. Such a device that changes the way we work, live, and play is a special one,

indeed. A machine that has done all this and more now exists in nearly every business in the U.S. and one out of every two households (Hall, 156). This incredible

invention is the computer. The electronic computer has been around for over a half-century, but its ancestors have been around for 2000 years. However, only in the

last 40 years has it changed the American society. >From the first wooden abacus to the latest high-speed microprocessor, the computer has changed nearly every

aspect of peopleÕs lives for the better.

The very earliest existence of the modern day computerÕs ancestor is the abacus.

These date back to almost 2000 years ago. It is simply a wooden rack holding

parallel wires on which beads are strung. When these beads are moved along the wire according to 'programming' rules that the user must memorize, all ordinary

arithmetic operations can be performed (Soma, 14). The next innovation in computers took place in 1694 when Blaise Pascal invented the first Òdigital calculating

machineÓ. It could only add numbers and they had to be entered by turning dials. It was designed to help PascalÕs father who was a tax collector (Soma, 32).

In the early 1800Õs, a mathematics professor named Charles Babbage designed an automatic calculation machine. It was steam powered and could store up to 1000

50-digit numbers. Built in to his machine were operations that included everything a modern general-purpose computer would need. It was programmed by--and

stored data on--cards...