History of computing

History of computing 
Before 1960 
1960s to present 
Operating systems 
Timeline

The history of computing is longer than the history of computing hardware and modern computing technology and includes the history of methods intended for pen and paper or for chalk and slate, with or without the aid of tables. The timeline of computing presents a summary list of major developments in computing by date.
Contents 
Concrete devices
Computing is intimately tied to the representation of numbers. But long before abstractions like number arose, there were mathematical concepts to serve the purposes of civilization. These concepts are implicit in concrete practices such as :
 onetoone correspondence, a rule to count how many items, say on a tally stick, which was eventually abstracted into number;
 comparison to a standard, a method for assuming reproducibility in a measurement, the number of coins, for example;
 the 345 right triangle was a device for assuring a right angle, using ropes with 12 evenly spaced knots, for example.
These simple rules of thumb have been known for millennia, which impelled some men to ask seemingly imponderable questions, such as how many grains of sand are on this beach; some men, like Archimedes, even had the audacity of mind to answer them, in the Sand Reckoner.
Numbers
Eventually, numbers become a concreteenough and familiarenough device for counting to arise, at times with singsong mnemonics to teach sequences to others. All the known languages have words for at least "one" and "two", and even some animals like the blackbird can distinguish a surprising number of items.
Advances in the numeral system and mathematical notation eventually led to the discovery of mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, squaring, square root, and so forth. Eventually the operations were formalized, and concepts about the operations became understood well enough to be stated formally, and even proven. See, for example Euclid's algorithm for finding the greatest common divisor of two numbers.
By medieval times, the HinduArabic positional number system had reached Europe, which allowed for systematic computation of numbers. During this period, the representation of a calculation on paper actually allowed calculation of mathematical expressions, and the tabulation of mathematical functions such as the square root and the common logarithm (for use in multiplication and division) and the trigonometric functions. By the time of Isaac Newton's researches, paper or vellum was an important computing resource, and even in our present time, researchers like Enrico Fermi would cover random scraps of paper with calculation, to satisfy their innate curiosity about an equation. Even into the period of programmable calculators, Richard Feynman would unhesitatingly compute any steps which overflowed the memory of the calculators, by hand, just to learn the answer. Underlying it all was the elation they found in the calculations: try a typical Feynman question  what happens when you add up the first few odd numbers?
Navigation and astronomy
Starting with known special cases, the calculation of logarithms and trigonometric functions can be performed by looking up numbers in a mathematical table, and interpolating between known cases. For small enough differences, this linear operation was accurate enough for use in navigation and astronomy in the Age of Exploration. The uses of interpolation have thrived in the past 500 years: by the twentieth century Leslie Comrie and W.J. Eckert systematized the use of interpolation in tables of numbers for punch card calculation.
In our time, even a student can simulate the motion of the planets, an Nbody differential equation, using the concepts of numerical approximation, a feat which even Isaac Newton could admire, given his struggles with the motion of the Moon.
Weather prediction
The numerical solution of differential equations, notably the NavierStokes equations was an important stimulus to computing, with Lewis Fry Richardson's numerical approach to solving differential equations. To this day, the most powerful computer systems of the Earth are used for weather forecasts.
Symbolic computations
By the late 1960s, computer systems could perform symbolic algebraic manipulations well enough to pass collegelevel calculus courses. Using programs like Maple, Macsyma (now Maxima) and Mathematica, including some open source programs like yacas, it is now possible to visualize concepts such as modular forms which were only accessible to the mathematical imagination before this.
Books for further reading
 A History of Modern Computing, Paul Ceruzzi, 2000, MIT Press, ISBN 0262032554 (hardcover), 0262531690 (paperback)
 Bit by Bit: An Illustrated Histoy of Computers, Stan Augarten, 1984, Ticknor & Fields, ISBN 0899193021
 The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann, Herman Goldstine, 1972, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0691081043 (hardback), 0691023670 (paperback)
 A History of Computing Technology, Michael R. Williams, 1997, IEEE Computer Society Press, ISBN 0818677392
 The First Computers: History and Architectures, edited by Ral Rojas and Ulf Hashagen, 2000, MIT Press, ISBN 0262181975.
 Computer: A History of the Information Machine,Martin CampbellKelly and William Aspray, 1996, Basic Books, ISBN 0465029892.
 Landmarks in Digital Computing: A Smithsonian Pictorial History, Peggy Kidwell and Paul Ceruzzi, 1994, Smithsonian, ISBN 1560983116
 A History of Computing in the Twentieth Century, edited by: Nicholas Metropolis, J. Howlett, and GianCarlo Rota, 1980, Academic Press, ISBN 0124916503
 Early British Computers, Simon Lavington, 1980, Digital Press (US) and Manchester University Press (UK), ISBN 0932376088. Available online (http://edthelen.org/comphist/EarlyBritish.html)
 ENIAC: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the World's First Computer, Scott McCartney, 1999, Walker and Company, ISBN 0802713483
 A Few Good Men from Univac, 1987, David Lundstrom, MIT Press, ESBN 0262620758
 Portraits in Silicon, Robert Slater, 1987, MIT Press, ISBN 0262192624
 Out of Their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists, Dennis Shasta and Cathy Lazere, 1995, Copernicus, ISBN 0387979921
 Stan Viet's History of the Personal Computer, Stan Viet, 1993, WorldComm, ISBN 1566640237
 From Dits to Bits... : A Personal History of the Electronic Computer, Herman Lukoff, 1979. Robotics Press, ISBN 896610020
 Faster, Faster: A Simple Description of a Giant Electronic Calculator and the Problems it Solves, Wallace J. Eckert and Rebecca Jones, 1955, McGrawHill. (No ISBN, Dewey decimal: 510.8 E19f) A contemporary book about the NORC.
See also
External links
 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/computinghistory/)
 Calculator Museum (http://www.calculators.de)
 "Early British Computers" (http://edthelen.org/comphist/EarlyBritish.html)
es:Historia de la Informtica fr:Histoire de l'informatique it:Storia del Personal Computer nl:Geschiedenis van de computer pl:Historia informatyki sl:Zgodovina_računalništva sv:Datorhistoria