Modern technology is astounding. We all have handheld supercomputers (aka smartphones) in the pocket of our jeans, and the wealth of the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. As technology progresses, it’s made to get faster and smarter while becoming smaller and more efficient.
The handheld technology that’s available to kids, often for less than $100, is more developed and powerful than that which powered our space missions and even brought us to the moon! Amazed? Here is some more information about the history of the computer and how technology has progressed through the decades.
The History of the Computer
How long have computers been around? Well, the first mechanical computer was invented in 1822 by Charles Babbage. This computing machine was not a lot like the computers we are used to today, but it shows how much our technology has adapted through the years.
To think about how technology has progressed, consider how the desktop computer has evolved from one filling a garage to tiny laptops. The first fully functional digital computer was developed in 1943 and completed in 1946. The ENIAC was invented at the University of Pennsylvania by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. It stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator. The computer took up about 1,800 square feet of room and was constructed using nearly 18,000 vacuum tubes which weighed up to 50 tons. The total cost of the computer system was about $487,000.
About the TI 83
Texas Instruments has long been a big part of the world of computers. In 1979, they designed the TI-99/7 as the first 16-bit computer in the personal computer industry. They eventually released the TI 83 in 1996, and it is a staple graphing calculator for many students.
Let’s take a look at the specs of the TI-83 Silver Edition.
TI-83 (Silver Edition).
Memory = 128 KB RAM, 2 MB ROM.
Clock Speed = 15MHz.
Architecture = 8-bit Zilog Z80.
In comparison, here are the stats for the Apollo Mission Computer.
Memory = 25 KB (1 KB RAM, 24 KB Core)
Clock speed = 1 MHz = 1/32 of the FitBit.
Architecture = 16 bit.
As we can see, the technology used in the calculator is a lot faster. It’s incredible how much technology has progressed in the years.
The Apollo Guidance Computer
The Apollo Guidance computer did an amazing feat of not only displaying information but also reading information from the equipment such as the internal thrusters and controlling it. The AGC was developed in the 1960s by MIT.
The computer weighed more than 60 kilograms, and the processor frequency was only 2.048 MHz. It had the power to multitask up to 8 different operations. When commands were inputted, it required translating English words into verb-noun pairs, and these were inputted as numbers. The cabin had a sign that would remind the astronauts. When compared to the TI-83, it’s incredible to see how technology has progressed.