In this topic, we’re counting down 10 things you didn’t know about computers. Let’s start
The first computer was massive.
Designed and primarily used by the Ballistic Research Laboratory of The United States Army, the first ever computer in the world was called the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, or ENIAC for short. Its main function was to calculate artillery firing tables, and the first program that it ran studied the feasibility of thermonuclear weapons.
First used in December 1945, the ENIAC was massive, filling a 50-foot-long basement and weighing approximately 30 tons. Costing almost $500,000, about 6.3 million in today’s money, this computer was called the giant brain by the press, and remained operational until October 1955.
The iconic computer manufacturers were all started in a garage.
Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Apple are all considered to be trailblazers in the computer industry, dominating the consumer market and cementing their legacy on the world. While the range of products that they offer are largely different, all three companies have one thing in common: they were started in a garage.
Founded by Bill Hewlett and David Packard in a Palo Alto garage amid the Great Depression, Hewlett-Packard began manufacturing computers in 1966, developing the HP 2116A to manage their own test and management devices. A few years later, they released the HP 3000 general purpose mini computer that could make business operations easier and more effective. This product line remains in use to this day.
On the other hand, Microsoft was founded by childhood friends Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975 in an Albuquerque garage. Five years later, their fledgling company struck a deal to develop and provide the operating system for IBM’s first ever personal computer. By the late 1980s, they were already considered as the world’s largest personal computer software company. Meanwhile, Apple was co-founded by Steve Jobs in 1976 in the garage of his parents’ home in Los Altos, California.
The company is renowned all over the world for changing the world of computers and electronics, transforming it into the landscape that we know today. Number eight: only five megabytes of data could be stored on the first hard drive. Hard drives nowadays are capable of holding terabytes of data, used to store tons of important content and information.
However, the very first hard drive could only hold five megabytes of data. Developed and commercially sold by IBM, this device was the size of two refrigerators, weighed a ton, and cost $10,000 per megabyte.
A computer was first visualized in 1786.
The origins of modern computers can be traced back to 1786, when an engineer in the Hessian army named Johann Helfrich von Müller first conceived the difference engine, which later evolved into a mechanical calculator capable of organizing polynomial functions. Many consider him to be the first person in the world to come up with the idea of a machine that could calculate mathematical tables.
The majority of the world’s money exists only on computers.
Only 8% of the world’s currency exists as physical cash, with the rest sitting on computer hard drives, in network currencies, electronic bank accounts, and the like, with the majority of the world posed to go cashless. This figure will only decrease as the years go by.
NASA was once hacked by a teenager.
In 1999, NASA was forced to shut down their operations for 21 days, an incident that cost around $41,000, after the International Space Station source code that controlled critical life-sustaining elements was obtained through malicious activity.
It was later revealed that 15-year-old Jonathan James from South Florida had hacked into the government agency’s database, a crime that saw him placed under house arrest and strict surveillance until he turned 18.
In May 2008, James was found dead by a self-inflicted gunshot wound after Secret Service agents accused him of being involved in the largest case of identity theft in the history of the United States. In his suicide note, James claimed that, despite his innocence, federal officials would still make him a scapegoat.
Computers are less powerful than the human brain.
If a computer would operate on the same level as the human brain does, it would be capable of performing around 38,000 trillion operations per second and hold more than 3,580 terabytes of memory.
The father of modern computer science was treated terribly.
At the height of World War II, the Germans were using a type of computer called the Enigma, which could generate a stream of constantly changing codes, making it difficult for the British to intercept and understand their communications.
Working in the Department of Communications in Great Britain, Alan Turing was able to develop a device called the Colossus, which could decipher code sent by Enigma, eventually paving the way for Allied victory.
However, the father of modern computer science was a homosexual at the time, when it was forbidden and considered taboo. He was charged with gross indecency, and had his special clearance revoked, nearly imprisoned, and forced to undergo hormonal treatment.
This all proved to be too much for Turing, and he poisoned himself with an apple laced with cyanide in 1954. In 2009, then prime minister Gordon Brown issued an official apology on behalf of the government to Turing and his descendants, saying that their treatment was inhumane, horrifying, and utterly unfair. “We’re sorry. You deserve so much better,” wrote Brown in a statement published on 10 Downing Street’s official website.
The QWERTY keyboard aimed to reduce typing speed.
Most if not all computers today are equipped with the QWERTY keyboard. However, this had been initially invented to reduce the typing speed of users. Back then, computers and software programs would freeze repeatedly if people typed too fast, which is why complicated and rarely-used letters were clustered in one area, while commonly used ones were spread far apart.
Nearly 5,000 computer viruses are released each month.
Malicious viruses are the bane of every computer user’s existence, and unfortunately, nearly 5,000 of them are released every month. More importantly, though, over 317 million new pieces of malware are discovered per day.