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Resources listed within this category are focused on the history of computers and may include sites representing brick-and-mortar computer history facilities or online histories of computing.

The development of the computer probably began with the human desire to understand his environment. In order to enhance and to extend the power of the human mind, people began recording things on various types of physical media. The abacus, an early computing device, was created more than two thousand years before Christ, and wax tablets served as an early data storage device.

Computers, as we know them today, were a long time coming, and were preceded by a series of devices of increasing complexity, and included the invention of the slide rule and Thomas de Colmar's arithmometer, and Charles Babbage's difference engine. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, engineers came up with the idea of using holes in cards and tape to represent repeating patterns of information that could be stored and automatically acted upon, an early version of would later become the IBM card.

With the control of electricity came further advances, allowing computing to progress from mechanical to electrical computation, which more closely resembles the modern computer.

Vacuum tubes were invented in 1906, and they were first used in calculators in the 1940s, then largely replaced by solid-state computing. Semiconductors were discovered in the 1800s, but it wasn't until the mid-1900s that semiconductor electronic switches were perfected, and found to be faster and require less power.

They could also be made smaller than the eye can see. The first transistorized computers appeared in the early 1950s. Before long, they had replaced vacuum tubes throughout computer systems, with the exception of the monitor, in which they were used until they were replaced by flat-screen monitors in the 2000s.

Although the first parallel computer (ENIAC) was developed in 1943, they weren't commercially viable until the 1980s, and didn't become commonplace until the 2000s.

The first programmable, fully automatic digital computer was the Z3. Developed by Konrad Zuse, a German inventor, in 1941, the Z3 executed a program on punched celluloid tape, and was capable of performing addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and square roots, and could convert decimal points to binary for input, and binary floating points back to decimal for output.

The Atanasoff-Berry Computer was built at Iowa State College in 1942 by John Atanasoff and Clifford Berry. It was an automatic, electronic digital desktop computer, although it weighed seven hundred pounds. The project was abandoned when Atanasoff was called up for military duty in World War II.

ENIAC was the first electronic computer. Developed by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania, it weighed more than thirty tons and used an IBM punch-card reader for input and a card punch for output.

The first electronic digital computer was Colossus. Ten of these machines were built and used during World War II by the United Kingdom to crack German military codes. Although more sophisticated than the Bombe machines designed by Alan Turing to crack the Enigma code, all of the Colossi were destroyed after the war.

Incidentally, the trackball was designed more than twenty years before the mouse. Designed in 1946, the trackball was considered a British military secret until 1947, when it was patented by Ralph Benjamin, the inventor. The first mouse was introduced to the public in 1967, although work on it began in the early 1960s.

The dot matrix printer came out in 1968, dominating the business and home computer market until well into the 1990s, and are still manufactured and in use today.

The Internet had its start with ARPANET in 1969 when three computers in California and one in Utah were connected and started to exchange messages.

Created in 1970, the floppy disk served as a compact system for storing data. Over the years, they were distributed in 8-inch, 5.25-inch, and 3.5-inch disk sizes.

The Xerox Alto was the world's first personal computer featuring a graphical user interface, and the Altair is generally credited as being the first personal home computer. Other significant early home computers included the Honeywell series, the MITS Altair, Acorn Atom, the Sinclair, the Apple II series, Atari series, Radio Shack's TRS-80, the Coleco Adam, the Commodore series, and the IBM PCjr, although many other computers and earlier computing devices have played a role in the history of computing.

The history of computers and computing is the focus of topics in this category.


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