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What is the Computer?

As with any problem-solving tool, you must understand the purposes for which computers can and cannot be used. What is the value of computers to you? Over the last decade, computers have become more powerful, easier to use, and less expensive. Thus, the effort required to apply computers in personal and professional pursuits is much simpler than it was a decade ago. Like all revolutionary technologies, such as electricity, telephones, and automobiles, computers have been embraced by individuals and organizations rather quickly. Thus, a certain amount of computer literacy is necessary to keep pace with rapid technological advances. Computers, although important, are not an end in themselves. They are simply tools. They are really nothing more than unusually fast and precise machines with an extraordinary ability to remember massive amount of detail. The computer's speciality is data processing, performing specific operations on data: adding, substracting. multiplying, and dividing numbers and comparing them and remembering them. These fundamental operations, conducted in countless combinations at tremendous speed, are the essence of all the computer's enormously varied applications. The computer can thus answer some highly complex questions, although the human being must tell it what to do and how to do it 10 A computer is an electronic device that can accept input, process it according to a set of instructions, store the instructions and the results of processing, and produce results as its output. The facts, numbers, letters, and images input to a computer are called data. The instructions that carry out the processing are called computer programs of software. The output, Intended for use and interpretation by people, is called information.


2. Answer the questions :

1) What are the main operations of computer ?

2) How can computer do operations ?

3) What is a computer ?

4) What is called data ?

5) What are called computer programs of software?

Some Facts from the History of Computers


Let us take a look at the history of the computers that we know today. The very first calculating device used was the ten fingers of a man's hands. This is why today we still count in tens and multiples of tens.

Then the abacus was invented, a bead frame in which the beads are moved from left to right. People went on using some form of abacus well into the 16-th century, and it is still being used in some parts of the world because it can be understood without knowing how to read.

During the 17-th and 18-th centuries many people tried to find easy ways of calculating. J.Napier, a Scotsman, devised a mechanical way of multiplying and dividing, which is how the modern slide rule works. Henry Briggs used Napier's ideas to produce logarithm tables, which all mathematicians use today.

The first real calculating machine appeared in 1820 as the result of several people's experiments. This type of machine, which saves a great deal of time and reduces the possibility of making mistakes, depends on a series of ten-toothed gear wheels. In 1830 Charles Babbage, an Englishman, designed a machine that was called "The Analytical Engine". This machine, which Babbage showed at Paris Exhibition in 1855, was an attempt to cut out the human being altogether, except for providing the machine with the necessary facts about the problem to be solved. He never finished his work, but many of his ideas were the basis for building today's computers.

In 1930 the first analog computer was built by American named Vannevar Bush. This device was used in World War II to help aim guns. Mark I, the name given to the first digital computer, was completed in 1944. The men responsible for this invention were Professor Howard Aiken and some people from IBM.

In 1946 two engineers from the University of Pennsylvania built the first digital computer using parts called vacuum tubes. Another important advancement in computers came in 1947, when John von Newmann developed the idea of keeping instructions for the computer inside the computer's memory.

The first generation of computers, which used vacuum tubes, came out in 1950. In 1960 the second generation of computers was developed and these could perform work ten times faster than their predecessors. The reason for this extra speed was the use of transistors instead of vacuum tubes.

The third-generation computers appeared on the market in 1965. These computers could do a million calculations a second, which is 1000 times faster then the first-generation computers. These computers are controlled by tiny integrated circuits,

The fourth-generation of computers appeared and the integrated circuits have been greatly reduced in size. This means that the circuits are much smaller than before; as many as 1000 tiny circuits now fit onto a single chip. A chip is a square or rectangular piece of silicon, upon which several layers of an integrated circuit are etched. The fourth-generation computers are 50 times faster than the third-generation computers.


Answer the following questions.

1. What was the very first calculating device?

2. What is the abacus?

3. When did people begin to find easy ways of calculating?

4. When did the first real calculating device appear?

5. Did C.Babbage design the first digital computer?

6. The first analog computer was built in 1930, wasn't it?

7. In what part of computer are instructions kept?

8. Did the first-generation computers use transistors?

9. Which computer generation used transistors?

10.How many integrated circuits does a single chip have?



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