Although Charles Babbage is widely considered the inventor of the computer for the design of his mechanical "Analytical Engine" in 1840, like so many major technological developments, there actually are many people who contributed to the creation of the modern computer [source: Time].
The earliest computers without metal gears and switches were number crunchers performing mathematical calculations for the military. Used by the Navy in World War II, the MARK 1 computer was 55 feet (16.7 meters) long and 8 feet (2.4 meters) high [source: Behar] These early electronic computers used vacuum tube technology and were huge, hot and expensive to run.
Although the early years of electronic computing saw some miniaturization with the use of transistors and integrated circuits, it wasn't until the development of the microprocessor that the computer really became accessible to the public and captured the world's imagination. In 1977, the Apple II personal computer was introduced, followed by the IBM PC a few years later [source: Time]. These competitors brought computing to the masses. Refinements like the development of a graphical user interface (GUI) and a more intuitive operating system soon followed.
Within 30 short years, computers have revolutionized the way businesses work, people play and the world communicates. It's hard to envision a single aspect of human life that hasn't been impacted by the development of computer technology.
Take a look at some more fun facts and interesting information about appliances we can't do without below.
- How ARPANET Works
- How Clocks Work
- Curiosity Project: What is refueling appliance?
- How Clothes Washer/Dryers Work
- How Computer Memory Works
- How Dishwashers Work
- How iPods Work
- How Microwave Cooking Works
- How Radios Work
- How Refrigerators Work
- How Telephones Work
- How Television Works
- How Toilets Work
- Curiosity Project: 10 Most Popular Computer Accessories of All Time
- Behar, Susie and Robert Yarham. "Great Inventions - 100 Inventions That Have Shaped Our World." Igloo Books Ltd. 2007. (9/14/08)
- Bellis, Mary. "Clocks and Calendar History." Undated. 9/22/08 http://inventors.about.com/od/cstartinventions/a/clock.htm
- Bellis, Mary. "The History of Clothes Dryers." Undated. 9/22/08 http://inventors.about.com/od/wstartinventions/a/washingmachines_2.htm
- Blumberg, Stephen Ph.D and Julian V. Luke, "Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, July-December 2007." Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 5/08, (9/25/08) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/wireless200805.htm
- Brunelli, Laureen Miles. "Baltimore Movie Theaters." Undated. 9/17/08) http://baltimore.about.com/od/artsentertaiment/tp/baltimoremovietheaters.htm
- Castleden, Rodney. "Inventions That Changed the World." Omnipress: London. 2007. (9/13/08)
- D'Alto, Nick. "Behind Closed Doors." Encyclopedia Britannica. 3/08. (9/20/08) [High-Tech Toilets] http://www.britannica.com/bps/magazine?query=toilet&articleIndex=1
- Everything2."Escapement." Undated,(9/25/08) http://www.everything2.org/title/escapement
- Gallawa, J. Carlton. "A Brief History of the Microwave Oven." Undated. (9/17/08) http://www.gallawa.com/microtech/history.html
- How ARPANET Works https://computer.howstuffworks.com/arpanet.htm
- HowStuffWorks.com. "Is the Sound on Vinyl Records Better Than on CDs or DVDs?", Undated. (9/20/08) https://www.howstuffworks.com/question487.htm
- Idea Finder. "Microwave." Undated. (9/20/08) http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/microwave.htm
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "A Walk Through Time." 4/30/2002. (9/20/08) http://physics.nist.gov/GenInt/Time/time.html
- Neff, Jack. "Look, No Hands! K-C'S Bathroom of the Future." Encyclopedia Britannica. 7/16/2007. (9/18/2008) http://www.britannica.com/bps/magazine?query=toilet&articleIndex=1
- Swanson, Richard Pommier. "The Ice Trade." Nova. Undated. (9/20/08) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/zero/trade.html
- Time Magazine, "Great Inventions - Geniuses and Gizmos: Innovations in Our Time." Time Books: New York. 2003. (9/13/08)
- TV-Free America. "Television & Health." Undated. (9/25/08) http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html#tv_stats
- USDA. "Microwave Ovens and Food Safety." Undated. (9/24/08) http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets/Microwave_Ovens_and_Food_Safety/index.asp
- WhatIsIt.com. "Nanomachines." Undated. (9/18/08) http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/0,,sid9_gci514355,00.html
- Woodford, Chris and Luke Collins, Clint Witchalls, Ben Morgan, James Flint. "Cool Stuff and How it Works." DK Publishing: New York. 2005. (9/13/08)
- Xomba. "The History of the Alarm Clock." Undated. (9/25/08) http://www.xomba.com/alarm_clock_history
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