25 votes
Accepted

What was the first electronic computer?

The literature is ambiguous because the question is ambiguous. The characteristics of these early machines are well known, but one can set the criteria for being "electronic computer" according to ...
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  • 66k
20 votes
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What happened to analog computers?

Rutherford journal gives a nice chronology of analog computing up to 1970, when they went out of mass use. "The demise of the analogue computer was a gradual process. Apart from reductions in size and ...
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  • 66k
16 votes
Accepted

Did Turing know of Babbage's work?

See: Alan Turing, Collected works: Mathematical Logic (R.O. Gandy & C.E.M. Yates editors, 2001). [page 10, regarding Turing's paper On computable numbers... (1937)] It should be remarked that ...
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11 votes

What happened to analog computers?

The USS Iowa has mechanical analog computers for firing that survived the 1980-refit of the ship. An analog computer of everyday use in the XXIst century are the flight computers used on a wide range ...
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  • 1,795
9 votes
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What technology did researchers use to write scientific papers before the computer?

There were several layers of craft technology now partly superseded by pdflatex and friends. There were author's instructions for marking up manuscripts with type font indications, there were ...
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  • 1,782
8 votes

What was the first electronic computer?

Why does being decimal disqualify ENIAC? Decimal electronic stored-program computers used to be a thing, for example the commercially successful IBM 1401. It was a matter of "binary for scientific ...
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6 votes
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Why were British WWII computing machines and their projects destroyed after the war ended?

To keep secret the level of expertise in cryptanalysis so future opponents wouldn't put effort into improving their own codes. Probably pointless because it was inevitable that some details of ...
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6 votes

Essential basic geometrical discoveries still possible in our era?

This is exactly what is happening in modern mathematics: people with some books and brain discover essential things that have never been discovered, such as Euclid, Thales and Pythagoras did in the ...
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5 votes
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Why were early electronic computers mutually incompatible?

There is a heap of answers to this question, and they cover a wide range of aspects of the early computer industry. As has been pointed out, the very first machines were hand built lab experiments. It ...
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  • 106
5 votes

Why were early electronic computers mutually incompatible?

First machines were one-off affairs, custom built (often for a very narrow purpose). There just weren't enough of those around to make standarization of anything surrounding them worthwhile. Thomas ...
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  • 495
5 votes

Earliest concrete example of a binary / digital computing device

Digital devices were quite common since 19th century, they were called cash registers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cash_register Many shops were equipped with them. Similar device for scientific/...
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4 votes
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What technologies were used before JavaScript?

Javascript is older than Flash and ActiveX. Originally, it was developed by the Sun, as the "small cousine" of the Java. The "World Wide Web" was originally developed only for static content without ...
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  • 879
4 votes

What technology did researchers use to write scientific papers before the computer?

My theoretical physics papers and thesis were written by hand, then typed on an IBM "golf ball" typewriter. The golf ball was so called because the type head was about the same size as a golf ball. ...
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  • 141
4 votes

What was the first electronic computer?

My personal marker is stored program control, ie, the program is stored in the computer memory. Early machines like the original ENIAC, Colossus, Zuse's Z-machines, were all programmed by changing the ...
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  • 106
3 votes

Why were early electronic computers mutually incompatible?

This changed in 1964 when IBM introduced System/360, a scalable computing system. It's obvious now that we have scalable computing systems that we can have scalable computing systems. Before then, ...
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3 votes
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Is the modern "is defined as" notation from computer programming?

I did a bit of snooping, and followed the Wikipedia link you named to another subsection, which states International Algebraic Language and ALGOL (1958 and 1960) therefore introduced "...
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  • 8,082
3 votes
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Did Leibniz sketch a design for a machine capable of solving a system of linear equations?

I've found an indirect reference into: Joseph Ehrenfried Hofmann, Leibniz in Paris 1672-1676 (1974, German ed.1949), page 30 and footnote 27: still in 1674 he [Leibniz] has plans for constructing an ...
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2 votes

Essential basic geometrical discoveries still possible in our era?

One incredible discovery of the 1800s was that when you speak of geometry, you need to specify "where your geometry is located" and specifically what constitutes points and lines. At the time this was ...
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2 votes

To constructivists, is "mind" more than a convenient synonym for "algorithm"?

Regarding the algorithmic conception of the mind: Von Neumann definitely regarded human intelligence as algorithmic. He may not have known how the brain/computer worked exactly, but it's a ...
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  • 265
1 vote

Was a work of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage inspiration for pioneers of modern computing?

According to Wikipedia: Ada is a programming language designed a team led by Jean Ichbiah at Honeywell under contract to the US Department of Defense from 1977-1983 to supersede over 450 programming ...
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1 vote

Did Leibniz also design analog computers?

Yes, Leibniz did design a famous computing machine called the stepped-reckoner. It was a (digital) computer, but not an analog computer. Don't confuse digital with electronic. The difference is only ...
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  • 111
1 vote

Earliest concrete example of a binary / digital computing device

It has been claimed that the Jaquard Loom (1804) was a digital computer. (But not electronic, of course.) We could even say that it was binary, since on the punched cards that control it, in each ...
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  • 8,367
1 vote

Overflow behavior in turn counters of Odhner-style arithmometers

After a little bit of research, I think the answer is that the turn counter works the way it does to support division and division would not function as intended if the turn counter carried. "...
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1 vote

Who first invented the programmable digital computer?

To answer your title question, the first "programmable, digital computer" was designed by Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, known as the Analytical Engine. Turing, von Neumann, and other computer ...
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1 vote

What/When was the first radio nav system capable of triangulating your position?

Radio navigation was used on a large scale during the "Battle of Britain" in WWII, to direct the fighter planes to the enemy bomber formations. Of course, they experimented much earlier than that, ...
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1 vote

What happened to analog computers?

Though not nearly as ubiquitous as digital computing, analog computing is still an existing technology and is an active research domain, particularly with respect to novel hardware approaches for AI ...
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