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Winn L. Rosch Hardware Bible, Sixth Edition by Winn L. Rosch

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Computers in History

Strictly speaking, a computer is something that computes, which is not a particularly informative definition. In the vagueness of the term, however, you'll find an interesting bit of history. The word computer does not necessarily mean an electronic machine or a machine at all. If you were a researcher a hundred years ago and you wanted to take a break from heavy-duty math work, such as creating a tide table, you might have taken your computer out to lunch. Scientists engaged in difficult mathematics often employed a bevy of computers—men and women with pencils, papers, and green eye-shades who computed the numbers they needed.

Up until the end of World War II, a computer was a person who computed. She might use a pencil ...

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