History of Computer Science Essay

2419 Words Nov 7th, 2014 10 Pages
vA Very Brief History of Computer Science
Written by Jeffrey Shallit for CS 134 at the University of Waterloo in the summer of 1995.
This little web page was hastily stitched together in a few days. Perhaps eventually I will get around to doing a really good job. Suggestions are always welcome.
A translation of this web page into French has been prepared by Anne Dicky at the University of Bordeaux.

Before 1900
People have been using mechanical devices to aid calculation for thousands of years. For example, the abacus probably existed in Babylonia (present-day Iraq) about 3000 B.C.E. The ancient Greeks developed some very sophisticated analog computers. In 1901, an ancient Greek shipwreck was discovered off the island of
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(Babbage was a bit of an eccentric -- one biographer calls him an "irascible genius" -- and was probably the model for Daniel Doyce in Charles Dickens' novel, Little Dorrit. A little-known fact about Babbage is that he invented the science of dendrochronology -- tree-ring dating -- but never pursued his invention. In his later years, Babbage devoted much of his time to the persecution of street musicians (organ-grinders).) The Difference Engine can be viewed nowadays in the Science Museum in London, England.
One of Babbage's friends, Ada Augusta Byron, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852), sometimes is called the "first programmer" because of a report she wrote on Babbage's machine. (The programming language Ada was named for her.)
William Stanley Jevons (1835-1882), a British economist and logician, built a machine in 1869 to solve logic problems. It was "the first such machine with sufficient power to solve a complicated problem faster than the problem could be solved without the machine's aid." (Gardner) It is now in the Oxford Museum of the History of Science.
Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) invented the modern punched card for use in a machine he designed to help tabulate the 1890 census.

1900 - 1939: The Rise of Mathematics
Work on calculating machines continued.

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