THE HISTORY OF COMPUTERS
Section I. MANUAL PHASE
a. We tend to think of the computer and activities like data processing as a
phenomenon of recent times. In fact, the computer is as ancient as prehistory. The
position of the stones at Stonehenge in England and the arrangement of the windows in
the Mayan temples of Central America represent means of computing celestial
movement. In 1901, divers exploring an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Antikythera,
an island in the Aegean Sea, found a mechanical device with bronze cogs and wheels,
an elaborate mechanism for determining celestial events for navigation. Based on this
shipwreck, the device dates back to 100 BC.
data: facts, unevaluated messages, the raw material of information.
data processing: operations performed on data to derive information: originally
done manually, later mechanically, and more recently by electronic means.
Figure 1-1. Stonehenge, in England. The positions of the stones were
used to compute celestial movement,
b. Computing and record-keeping aids have been around for as long as people
have been counting and keeping track of their affairs. Early forerunners to the modern
computer, though crude by comparison, have served the same purpose: to facilitate the
storage and processing of data.