Computers have been around one way or another since the beginning of civilized human society. The first computers were the basic "devices" used by modern humans to keep records and make algebraic calculations used mainly by mathematicians and astronomers. History states that ancient Greeks, Romans, the Asiatic civilizations and the Incas had advanced knowledge concerning mathematics and adjacent sciences. The boom of computer development came with the understanding of the physical laws of electricity. The early 20th century computing machines used mechanical devices in completing their assignments. In the 1950s,with the discovery of semiconductors came the diode.

A semiconductor (smcd) is a chemical element that is a poor electric conductor,there for, the passage of electrons thru it may be regulated. The most currently used smcds are silicon [Si] and germanium [Ge].

A diode is an electronic device that allows electric flow only one way. It's made of two areas of semiconductor materials (N and P) that have different physical properties.

A transistor may be thought of as two diodes linked together. It consists of three smcd areas, hence the two builds: PNP and NPN.

The transistor is the building block of numerical circuits. Along with other inventions (such as the integrated circuit) of the 20th century it changed the world we live in. Despite my efforts to keep it simple, i must state that a transistor, when it changes it's state, needs an amount of time to close/open. This is a good thing to keep in mind when it comes to over-clocking (which i will present later).

Decisive to the evolution of computing machinery was the contribution of John Von Neumann. A brilliant mathematician, he layed out the guidelines of a computer architecture (to my illiterate knowledge) he proposed the use of the binary digit code and his model:

Schetch of Von Neumann machine

If you think about it, this seems to be the most complete definition of a computer: Anything that is composed of a central processor unit (CPU), Memory (a high access speed storage device), Storage (where data is preserved), Interfaces (devices thru which the machine can interact with it's user), all these connected thru Bus in such a way that it provides usability may be called a computer.

This principle is still in use today. I must state that slight deviations from this model are happening. There are machines with more than one processor and the entire concept of networking seem to slightly challenge this model.

For more fun and exciting history search in google. ( i did not have the time to link them myself, sorry)
PS: We must remember the pioneers!

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