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Revolution Exhibit Image Gallery
Perhaps the oldest continuously used calculating tool aside from fingers, the abacus is a masterpiece of power and simplicity. Abacuses were widely used in Asia and Europe for centuries, and remain common today.
The U.S. Constitution requires a census every decade. That was manageable in 1790 with fewer than four million Americans to tally. Not so simple a century later, with 63 million. Estimates warned that the 1890 census wouldn't be finished before the 1900 census began!
The government's answer? A contest to devise a solution. Herman Hollerith won. He suggested recording data on punched cards, which would be read by a tabulating machine.
For instance, Nordsieck's computer used electrical connections instead of mechanical shafts. And he set himself the priorities of "convenience and simplicity portability, and economy." His device's small size and straightforward engineering satisfied the first three requirements. Its $700 price tag satisfied the fourth.
The result was ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), built between 1943 and 1945 the first large-scale computer to run at electronic speed without being slowed by any mechanical parts. For a decade, until a 1955 lightning strike, ENIAC may have run more calculations than all mankind had done up to that point.
A versatile, general-purpose machine, UNIVAC was the brainchild of John Mauchly and Presper Eckert, creators of ENIAC. They proposed a statistical tabulator to the U.S. Census Bureau in 1946, and in 1951 UNIVAC I passed Census Bureau tests.
Within six years, 46 of the million-dollar UNIVAC systems had been installed with the last operating until 1970.
SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) linked 23 sites across the U.S. and Canada, coordinating weapons systems and processing radar, weather reports, and other data. By the time it became fully operational in 1963, however, the principal threat had shifted from aircraft to missiles, making SAGE's value questionable. Nevertheless, it remained in service until 1982.
IBM's System/360, a new family of general-purpose computers, changed everything. Programs for one System/360 computer ran on all, letting customers readily consolidate computing capabilities.
Every subsequent IBM mainframe is a descendant of the first System/360s.
High speed, random access memory plucking information from storage without plodding through sequentially is essential to the way we use computers today. IBM's RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) magnetic disk drive pioneered this ability.
The RAMAC 350 storage unit could hold the equivalent of 62,500 punched cards: 5 million characters.
Its distinctive design reflected Seymour Cray's innovative engineering solutions and theatrical flair. The round tower minimized wire lengths, while the distinctive bench concealed power supplies. Densely packed integrated circuits and a novel cooling system reflect Cray's attention to "packaging and plumbing."
Martin Newell at the University of Utah used a teapot as a reference model in 1975 to create a dataset of mathematical coordinates. From that he generated a 3D "wire frame" defining the teapot's shape, adding a surface "skin."
For 20 years, programmers used Newell's teapot as a starting point, exploring techniques of light, shade, and color to add depth and realism.
That terse message summoned Al Alcorn to Andy Capp's bar in Sunnyvale two weeks after Alcorn had installed the Pong arcade game. Pong's problem? Popularity. Its milk carton coin-catcher was jammed with quarters.
Pong heralded a gaming revolution. Mechanical arcade games like pinball had appeared the late 1800s. Pong, designed by Alcorn for Atari in 1972, launched the video game craze that transformed and reinvigorated the old arcades and made Atari the first successful video game company.
When it debuted in 1977, the Apple II was promoted as an extraordinary computer for ordinary people. The user-friendly design and graphical display made Apple a leader in the first decade of personal computing. Unlike the earlier Apple I, for which users had to supply essential parts such as a case and power supply, the Apple II was a fully realized consumer product. Design and marketing emphasized simplicity, an everyday tool for home, work, or school.
- Calculators (ZIP, Full Size 3.95 MB)
- Punched Cards (ZIP, Full Size 3.42 MB)
- Analog Computers (ZIP, Full Size 9.6 MB)
- Birth of The Computer (ZIP, Full Size 8.57 MB)
- Early Computer Companies (ZIP, Full Size 7.49 MB)
- Real Time Computing (ZIP, Full Size 5.47 MB)
- Mainframe Computers (ZIP, Full Size 4.67 MB)
- Memory and Storage (ZIP, Full Size 6.07 MB)
- Supercomputers (ZIP, Full Size 4.27 MB)
- Minicomputers (ZIP, Full Size 3.94 MB)
- Digital Logic (ZIP, Full Size 1.78 MB)
- Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (ZIP, Full Size 3.13 MB)
- Input Output (ZIP, Full Size 7.57 MB)
- Computer Graphics Music and Art (ZIP, Full Size 1.71 MB)
- Computer Games (ZIP, Full Size 4.28 MB)
- Personal Computers (ZIP, Full Size 6.55 MB)
- Mobile Computers (ZIP, Full Size 2.2 MB)
- Networking and The Web (ZIP, Full Size 2.52 MB)