How the Computer gets the answer – LIFE, 1967…
Step by step, an easy exercise reveals the workings of manâ€™s most complex machine Two plus Oneâ€”not exactly a problem to set the mind racing or to blow a computerâ€™s fuse. Yet it is enough to send electric pulses flying through the computerâ€™s intricate web of wires. Although we are barely in the third decade of the computer age, computers already touch the life of everyone in the U.S. Each yearâ€”each dayâ€”our involvement with these machines rises toward unimaginable levels. It is a commonplace that if it werenâ€™t for computers we couldnâ€™t fly to the moon, or even keep an accurate record of the national debt. On the question of how it does what it does, however, the computer has always remained essentially mysteriousâ€”unfathomable to all but a small handful of initiates. An officer of one major computer concern guessed recently that not more than 2% of his employes really know how it works.
4 thoughts on “How the Computer gets the answer…”
In high school I knew a guy who built his own computer that could do basic math (possibly just addition) and was only about the size of a refrigerator. It wasn’t as complex as this, but it was definitely impressive. I think I heard that he became an industrial tech teacher.
Out of curiousity, how long ago was that? My dad built computers maybe 1/4th the size of a modern mini tower (no enclosure of course), that could do a fair bit more than basic math.
I love comparing with him how different things are now. His chips didn’t even have what we’d call IO, it took an external chip addressed as memory locations. We have it really good today. But on the other hand our chips are so much more complex nobody really understands them like they did back then. 2+1=3 isn’t so simple on a modern ALU.
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