Friday, April 27, 2012

How Alan Turing Invented the Computer Age

How Alan Turing Invented the Computer Age:
In 1936, whilst studying for his Ph.D. at Princeton University, the English mathematician Alan Turing published a paper, On Computable Numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem, which became the foundation of computer science. In it Turing presented a theoretical machine that could solve any problem that could be described by simple instructions encoded on a paper tape. One Turing Machine could calculate square roots, whilst another might solve Sudoku puzzles. Turing demonstrated you could construct a single Universal Machine that could simulate any Turing Machine. One machine solving any problem, performing any task for which a program could be written sound familiar? He d invented the computer.
Back then, computers were people; they compiled actuarial tables and did engineering calculations. As the Allies prepared for World War II they faced a critical shortage of human computers for military calculations. When men left for war the shortage got worse, so the U.S. mechanized the problem by building the Harvard Mark 1, an electromechanical monster 50 feet long. It could do calculations in seconds that took people hours.