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The abacus was first used by the Babylonians as an aid to simple arithmetic at sometime around this date. The abacus in the form we are most familiar with was first used in China in around A. Napier also invented an ingenious system of moveable rods referred to as Napier's Rods or Napier's bones. These allowed the operator to multiply, divide and calculate square and calculate cube roots by moving the rods around and placing them in specially constructed boards.

Despite being more limited than Schickard's 'Calculating Clock' see , Pascal's machine became far more well known. He was able to sell around a dozen of his machines in various forms, coping with up to 8 digits. Instead of a carry mechanism, it registers carries on auxiliary dials, from which the user must re-enter them as addends. It can multiple number of up to 5 and 12 digits to give a 16 digit operand. The machine was later lost in an attic until Leibniz was also the co-inventor of calculus. Back to Top s Charles, the third Earl Stanhope, of England, makes a successful multiplying calculator similar to Leibniz's.

Mueller, of the Hessian army, conceives the idea of what came to be called a "difference engine". That's a special purpose calculator for tabulating values of a polynomial, given the differences between certain values so that the polynomial is uniquely specified; it's useful for any function that can be approximated by a polynomial over suitable intervals. Mueller's attempt to raise funds fails and the project is forgotten. It does multiplication using the same general approach as Leibniz's calculator; with assistance from the user it can also do division.

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It is also the most reliable calculator yet. Machines of this general design, large enough to occupy most of a desktop, continue to be sold for about 90 years. Babbage invented 2 machines the Analytical Engine a general purpose mathematical device, see and the Difference Engine a re-invention of Mueller's machine for solving polynomials , both machines were too complicated to be built although attempt was made in - but the theories worked.

The analytical engine outlined in involved many processes similar to the early electronic computers - notably the use of punched cards for input. The complete engine, which would be room-sized, is planned to be able to operate both on 6th-order differences with numbers of about 20 digits, and on 3rd-order differences with numbers of 30 digits. Each addition would be done in two phases, the second one taking care of any carries generated in the first. The output digits would be punched into a soft metal plate, from which a plate for a printing press could be made.

But there are various difficulties, and no more than this prototype piece is ever assembled.

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The program was stored on read-only memory, specifically in the form of punch cards. Babbage continues to work on the design for years, though after about the changes are minor.

The machine would operate on digit numbers; the "mill" CPU would have 2 main accumulators and some auxiliary ones for specific purposes, while the "store" memory would hold perhaps more numbers. There would be several punch card readers, for both programs and data; the cards would be chained and the motion of each chain could be reversed. The machine would be able to perform conditional jumps. There would also be a form of microcoding: the meaning of instructions would depend on the positioning of metal studs in a slotted barrel, called the "control barrel".

The machine would do an addition in 3 seconds and a multiplication or division in minutes. The cost overruns have been considerable, and Babbage is spending too much time on redesigning the Analytical Engine. See It operates on digit numbers and 4th-order differences, and produces printed output as Babbage's would have.

A second machine is later built to the same design by the firm of Brian Donkin of London. The Albany machine is used to produce a set of astronomical tables; but the observatory's director is then fired for this extravagant purchase, and the machine is never seriously used again, eventually ending up in a museum.

The second machine, however, has a long and useful life. He isn't interested in putting it into production; he just wants to show that a Spaniard can invent as well as an American. The project is then largely forgotten, though Howard Aiken is a notable exception. The design is the independent, and more or less simultaneous, invention of Frank S.

Baldwin, of the United States, and T. Odhner, a Swede living in Russia. The fluted drums are replaced by a "variable-toothed gear" design: a disk with radial pegs that can be made to protrude or retract from it. Felt , of Chicago, makes his "Comptometer". This is the first calculator where the operands are entered merely by pressing keys rather than having to be, for example, dialled in.

It is feasible because of Felt's invention of a carry mechanism fast enough to act while the keys return from being pressed. The census took 7 years to complete since all processing was done by hand off of journal sheets. The increasing population suggested that by the census the data processing would take longer than the 10 years before the next census - so a competition was held to try to find a better method. Herman borrowed Babbage's idea of using the punched cards see from the textile industry for the data storage.

This method was used in the census, the result 62,, people was released in just 6 weeks! Burroughs , of St. Louis, invents a machine similar to Felt's see but more robust, and this is the one that really starts the mechanical office calculator industry. Founded by Herman Hollerith , see also Duell, director of the U. Munro, completes the mill of his father's Analytical Engine, just to show that it would have worked. It does. The complete machine is never produced. Before this it would have been impossible to make digital electronic computers.

Eccles and F. Jordan publish the first flip-flop circuit design. Back to Top s E.


Wynn-Williams, at Cambridge, England, uses thyratron tubes to construct a binary digital counter for use in connection with physics experiments. The machine becomes important both in scientific and commercial computation, and about of them are eventually made. Turing , of Cambridge University, England, publishes a paper on "computable numbers" - the mathematical theory of computation.

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  • This paper solves a mathematical problem, but the solution is achieved by reasoning as a mathematical device about the theoretical simplified computer known today as a Turing machine. This is one of the first binary computers, although at this stage it was only a demonstration machine improvements continued leading to the 'complex number calculator' of Jan.

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    • Shannon publishes a paper on the implementation of symbolic logic using relays. Originally called the "V1" but retroactively renamed "Z1" after the war. It works with floating point numbers having a 7-bit exponent, bit mantissa, and a sign bit.

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      The memory uses sliding metal parts to store 16 such numbers, and works well; but the arithmetic unit is less successful. The program is read from punched tape -- not paper tape, but discarded 35 mm movie film. Data values can be entered from a numeric keyboard, and outputs are displayed on electric lamps.

      A coin toss decided the name. Atanasoff and graduate student Clifford Berry? This is the first machine to calculate using vacuum tubes. This spurred many improvements in technology - and led to the development of machines such as the Colossus see The project is interrupted for a year when Zuse is drafted, but then released.

      It uses telephone switching parts for logic: relays and 10 crossbar switches. Numbers are represented in "plus 3 BCD"; that is, for each decimal digit, 0 is represented by binary , 1 by , and so on up to for 9; this scheme requires fewer relays than straight BCD. Rather than requiring users to come to the machine to use it, the calculator is provided with three remote keyboards, at various places in the building, in the form of teletypes.