A Chronology of Digital Computing Machines (to 1952)
I thought this material would be of interest to this group, considering
the recent discussions of early computers. I have compiled it from two
sources. The primary one that I used is:
Bit by Bit: An Illustrated History of Computers.
By Stan Augarten, pub. 1984 by Ticknor and Fields, New York.
ISBN 0-89919-268-8, 0-89919-302-1 paperback.
I recommend that book, by the way, but with some reservations. The author
is a journalist rather than a computer person. From time to time this shows,
but it's generally clear what he means even if he doesn't actually say that.
In any case, he does tell the story in an interesting and readable fashion.
For some material in the last part of the chronology I also consulted:
Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering, 2nd edition.
Editor Anthony Ralston, Associate Editor Edwin D. Reilly Jr.,
pub. 1983 by Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York. ISBN 0-442-24496-7.
The criteria for including a machine in this chronology were that it either
was technologically innovative or was well known and influential; certain
particularly innovative inventions have also been included as of the first
time that they were described. When I refer to a machine as being able to do
some operation, I mean that it can do it more or less without assistance from
the user. This disqualifies the abacus from consideration, for instance;
similarly, a user wanting to subtract 16 on a 6-digit Pascaline could do it
by adding 99984, but this does not count as ability to do subtraction.
Where I do not describe the size of a machine, it is generally suitable for
desktop use if it has no memory and is unprogrammable, or is a small
prototype, but would fill a small room if it has memory or significant
programmability (of course, the two tend to go together).
The main body of text was here
A few things have happened since then, too, but this margin is too narrow...
SoftQuad Inc., Toronto
"Inventions reached their limit long ago, and I see no hope for further development."
Julius Frontinus, 1st century A.D.