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History of

computers, part 1

Here’s how computers have changed over the last few years: Before we had always-available, fast connections to multiple servers, we had dial-up modems and bulletin board systems (BBS). And it wasn’t even that long ago.                One weird little quirk about being human is that we (as a group) tend to think things have been the way they currently are for a lot longer than they actually have been — and that they're not likely to change. Even the most hard and well-backed- up science tends to change with the proverbial wind. Example: Cholesterol ... good or bad? See? Things (and ideas) change. Fast. And often we don't think they've changed at all. Sometimes it's good to sit back and look at how things have already changed — to see how things might change in the future. Let's apply that to servers. Computers serving up bits of data to other computers. What did those look like 10 years ago? 20? 50? In this article series, let's look over each major era and type of servers, in no particular order — I'll be bouncing around a bit as I tell the story of "Computer Servers." Bulletin board system servers Let's start with something that for many, might seem a little ... unusual. The dial-up bulletin board system (BBS). You see, we didn't always have the ability to obtain always-available physical connections to a server. During the 1980s and 1990s, one of the most common ways that average people connected "online" was to use a dial-up BBS. A modem on your computer would literally dial over an old-style analogue phone line (aka "a land line"), and another modem connected to another computer.  You get read more on computers then and now by clicking the link below. Read more...  

Computers: Then and Now

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are names which are almost synonymous with modern computers. However, the truth is that they were not the originators of the computer technology. They were only building on something that came along as early as 1800s and kept growing through the decades. The only difference is that the past machines were rudimentary compared to today’s standards and took up a lot of space. The modern computers, of course, can be held in hand, and technology seems to be only improving day after day. But, if we look back, we find an Englishman called Charles Baggage. The man, if many are to be believed, was born too early considering his revolutionary mind. From him the idea of programmable computer originated, and hence, he is sometimes called as the father of computer technology. The first ever mechanical computer was developed by him in the year 1833. The computer was a sort of analytical engine. Punched cards were used to provide data input and programs. As far as output went, there was a curve plotter device, a bell, as well as a printer. The computer could punch various numbers that were possible to be read later using cards on which they were imprinted. The machine also had control flow, integrated memory and arithmetic logic unit. The parts of Baggage’s computer, each one of them, had to be created by hand. His vision, however, did not reach its proper conclusion. That is because the government stopped providing aid to him and his fund ran out. Henry Baggage, his offspring, ended up building a somewhat watered down version of his father’s idea in the year 1888 and demonstrated its workings with success in 1906, though. These ideas paved the path for analog computers, that utilized electrical models or direct mechanical models as the computation basis. However, they were neither versatile, nor accurate. They were not even programmable. So, something needed to change. As you may know, the first ever computer that could be programmed was named ENIAC. It was not only flexible, but also quite fast. In the year 1946, it was unveiled. Cable and switch states were used to design the program. A written program could be set mechanically into the computer using patch cable and wire manual reset. The computer was, of course, not at all as advanced as the devices we see these days. It took no less than 1800 sq. ft. of space. Also, it weighed about 50 tons. Can you imagine carrying that inside your pocket now? Technology, as you already know, kept progressing relentlessly. As a result, now we can carry around tiny devices in our hands that contain the world within them! Only time will tell what comes next.