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The Genesis of the Computer Age
By Patricia Ouellette

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1 NIV)

This is the first line in the bible. It also marks the beginning of our world and mankind. It took God six days to create this marvelous planet we live on. It has taken us centuries to advance to what we are today.

No matter where we go, there is always something that is powered, manufactured, operated or used via a computer. Computers are in our cars, washing machines and televisions. They are the backbones of our banks, telephones and schools. We cannot go a day in our lives without using a computer of some kind.

I very much doubt that the early pioneers of the computer industry ever envisaged that their concept would take the world by storm as it has.

The concept of computers has been around for many centuries. The first computer, believe it or not, was the abacus, which has been documented as being invented about 5000 years ago in Asia Minor. Between the time of the Abacus and the LARC, computers were primarily devices used for calculations. They have advanced since then to what we have today.

It is hard to believe we have come so far from the humble abacus. Computers today are getting smaller and smaller. Early computers were massive. The Mark 1, which was the first all electric calculator, was the size of a football field and contained 500 miles of wiring. With the invention of the transistor in 1948, more sophisticated computers could be invented, such as ENIAC. ENIAC was a large machine, but not as large as the Mark 1, and consumed 160 kilowatts of electricity Ė enough to dim the lights in an entire section of Philadelphia.

Many companies we all know and see in the business news today, were instrumental in the development of the computer age. Companies like IBM, which was at first the Tabulating Machine Company, and of which Bill Gates of Microsoft started his booming career. Other companies are Honeywell and Control Data, just to name a couple.

Between 1956 and 1985 the computer shrunk in size and was no longer solely for the use of businesses and governments. The computer came home.

In the mid 70ís manufacturers were looking for computers for the general public. Minicomputers came with user-friendly software packages, which offered word processors and spreadsheet programs. Do you remember the Commodore, Radio Shack and first Apple?

Then came the arcade games, such as Pac Man and Space Invaders. Thousands of households had their Commodore 64ís, Segaís and Atariís connected to their television sets and played for hours. You could say they were the forefathers of Sony Playstation and Nintendo. If our Children ever had the opportunity to play on one of these early home computers they would think they were back in the dark ages, even if it only feels like yesterday to some of us.

In 1981 IBM released the first Personal Computer on the market, and by the end of that year, two million households worldwide owned a PC. By 1982 that number more than doubled to 5.5 million. In 1992 that number rose to a staggering 65 million. Reports and statistics have shown that, worldwide, there were approximately 600 million households with PCís in 2001 and the numbers are still rising. Some households today have two or more PCís in the home.

The first All-Electric Computer was the size of a football field; today a computer can fit in a wristwatch. Every day something new and improved is being released on the market. The development is so vast and fast that it is almost impossible to keep up with the latest trends. Not only are computers getting smaller and more sophisticated in design, they are also getting cheaper and more affordable.

Just imagine if the imaginative mind of that man in Asia Minor had never invented the Abacus. Or if all those great minds throughout the centuries had never helped do their part to make the way for the modern day computer Ö just imagine what our lives would be like without a Personal Computer. What would we all be doing with our time today?

Timeline of the Early Computer

Computer Date Inventor
Abacus Approx 5,000 yrs ago In Asia Minor
Pascaline 1642 Blaise Pascal
Improved Pascaline 1694 Gottfried Wilhem von Leibniz
Colmarís Calculator 1820 Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar
Difference Machine 1822 Charles Babbage
Analytical Engine 1835 approx Charles Babbage & Augusta Ada King
Tabulating Machine 1889 Herman Hollerith
A Prob. Solving Calc. 1931 Vannevar Bush
First Boolean Computer 1940 John V Atanasoff & Clifford Berry
Z3 1941 Konrad Zuse
Colossus 1943 Allied Forces
Mark 1 1944 Howard H. Akin
ENIAC 1944 US Gov and University of Pennsylvania
EDVAC 1945 John von Neumann
UNIVAC 1951 Remmington Rand
LARC 1956 Sperry-Rand
Stretch 1956 IBM
IBM 1401 1960ís IBM
Commodore 1970ís  
Radio Shack 1970ís  
Apple 1970ís  
First Personal Comp 1981 IBM
Apple Mac 1984 Apple Macintosh

Trish Ouellette is a wife and step-mother of seven glorious children and three grand children. Trish and her husband Jim, run a small computer business from home, as well as two large Internet ministries, which keep her busy designing websites, fixing, upgrading and building computers and teaching computer and Internet technology. With every minute of her spare time she explores her talents in writing and art, which is available to view on her personal website Christ Driven Brush & Pen http://christdriven.evangel-list.com.
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