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Computer Programming A Brief History (DOC)

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					?If a description of a computer is that it is a machine that has to follow various
instructions in order to carry out the tasks required of it, then the history of computers
can be traced back to Charles Babbage's 'analytical engine' of 1837. The instructions
that these machines or computers, as we call them, follow are written as lines of
programming in a programme (UK) or program (USA).

In fact there were several 'programmable' devices before the 'analytical engine'. The
was the Al-Jazari castle clock of 1206, which told the times of the year, the seasons,
the phases of the moon and much more besides and the sequences could be altered - a
kind of early programming.

Another instance was the Jacquard loom of 1801, which allowed complicated patterns
to be woven automatically by a loom following directions in the form of holes
punched in a series of cards. This kind of programming, using punched cards, was
still being used in computing in the Nineteen Sixties and early Seventies.

If these engines can be known as computers, it is fair to call them 'single purpose
computers'. What most users think of as a computer these days is a 'general purpose'
machine which can be programmed to perform a wide assortment of tasks from
calculating a spreadsheet to showing a film.

The problem with early computers (first quarter of the Twentieth Century) was how to
change the programme and how to input the data quickly. Alan Turing took the first
vital steps in this direction in 1936 with his formalization of the concepts of the
algorithm and computation with the Turing Machine. This device provided a blueprint
for the first digital computer.

The inventor of the first programmable and therefore multi purpose computer was
Konrad Zuse. The Zuse Z3 of 1941 is thought to have been the first programmable
fully automatic computer.

The Atasanoff-Berry Computer of 1937 was an early, partially programmable
computer and formed the basis of ENIAC (1946). ENIAC was the first general
purpose electronic computer.

Two key concepts were introduced by John von Neuman in 1945. These concepts
radically influenced the writing of programming languages. The first was the 'shared
program method', which dictated that programs should not be hard-wired into the
machine making it multi-functional and the second was the idea of the 'conditional
code transfer' or subroutine, which could be called from any point in the program to
carry out a role.

Short Code Language came out in 1949 which required programmers to code in
binary and Grace Hopper brought out the A-0 compiler in 1951 which greatly speeded
up the process of writing code.

FORTRAN was invented for scientific use in 1957 and COBOL in 1959 for office use.
LISP is a language that was designed to deal with lists in 1958 and is still being used
for this purpose today. 1958 also saw the release of ALGOL, which was the
springboard from where Pascal, C, C++ and Java emerged. PERL came along in 1987,
Java in 1994.

Microsoft is having a lot of success with its Visual Basic, which uses widgets, but
who knows what other languages will be developed in the future and what we will be
able to do with them?

Owen Jones, the author of this article, writes on a number of subjects, but is now
concerned with the wireless broadband router. If you want to know more, please visit
our web site at Best Router For Gaming Online

				
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