Machine to handle information. 

"high tech" industry – heavy costs for scientific & engineering research; characterized by rapid technical change.

Science, "if steel & oil have been two of the key ingredients of modern industrial society up to now, in the remainder of this century it will be the state of a nation's electronics & computer industries which signify its development."


Human "computers" - 1880s Harvard observatory.


1890 Census Bureau –

Herman Hollerith, punch card system.  

WWI military, 1930s Social Security system.

Hollerith company - later International Business Machines.


1925 MIT Vannevar Bush first analog computer - to analyze electric power system design.


Iowa State College physicist John Atanasoff, with grad student Clifford Berry, 1939-1942 – want to solve simultaneous linear equations.

Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC) - 300 vacuum tubes.


WWII intelligence efforts –

Germans "Enigma" coding machine; Allies electromechanical information-processing "bombes".

Britain, Bletchley Park.


After seeing ABC, John Mauchly & J. Prespert Eckert, electrical engineers at Univ. of Penn. Working for US Army Ordnance Dept. ENIAC "Electronic Numerical Integrator & Calculator."

Artillery trajectory tables.

ENIAC operation late 1945.

"ENIAC girls"

calculations for hydrogen bomb.


1950 Princeton mathematician John von Neumann - first stored-program computer in US.

EDVAC "Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer."


Los Alamos "Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator & Computer"


MIT "Whirlwind" computer, new magnetic core memory.

SAGE system "Semi-Automatic Ground Environment" - electronic defense network.  23 SAGE stations across US. SAGE computer 250 tons, 55,000 vacuum tubes.

first wide-area computer network,

"modulator-demodulat or"; computer monitors; magnetic core memory.


"There will never be enough work for more than one or two of these computers." 

1. big and expensive.

2. vacuum tubes unreliable,

3. no use outside science or military;

4. focus on number-crunching;

5. need advanced math for programming.


1948, Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation;

Rand UNIVAC "Universal Automatic Computer” - first US commercial computer, first designed for business use. 

1952 CBS election coverage.

1957, 46 UNIVACs.


80 companies entered business - defense companies, electric companies (GE), business-equipment makers (Remington Rand). 

IBM late start in computers - existing punch-card business;

Thomas Watson Jr. head of IBM, 1951.

1953 Model 650 - first mass-produced - Model T of computers. banks, insurance companies, dept stores, airlines.

rented to universities.


WWII work on semiconductors. 

Bell Labs - John Bardeen, William Shockley & Walter Brattain - transistor 1947 (Nobel Prize 1956).

germanium - silicon.


IBM System 360,

Late 1950s, IBM 75% computer market.


programming problem:

creation of computer "languages."

FORTRAN, "formula translation," 1954. 

1958 COBOL "Common Business-Oriented Language."


payroll & billing.

1958, ERMA "Electronic Record Method Accounting" - sort 750 checks per minute, Bank of America. 


1958, Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments & Robert Noyce of Fairchild - integrated circuits - microchip.

"Silicon Valley" - Stanford dean Frederick Terman, electrical engineering.

1970 200 electronics firms in 30 miles

military & aerospace subcontractor – missiles;

"Better killing through electronics".

Apollo 11.


First ICs 1960 $1000, 10 transistors;

1971, "microprocessor" - Intel 4004 - 60,000 instructions per second.

pocket calculator.   


1973 Xerox's Palo Alto RH Center (PARC) - the Alto – editing, e-mail, music, art – mouse control;


Altair.  1975 Popular Electronics - kit $400.

4000 orders in three months.

San Francisco Homebrew Computer Club.

Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak, Apple. 


1975 IBM  - 5-inch screen, $9000.

1981 IBM PC - $1365, sold 35,000 first year.

1984, Apple Mackintosh.


1982 Time - computer as "man of the year."

late 1980s, 8 million personal computers.  

Technology never created in vacuum

1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey"

web, "info superhighway".  

Post-September 11th.