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Lecture 20

NATS 1700 Lecture Notes - Lecture 20: Moore School Of Electrical Engineering, John Vincent Atanasoff, Edvac

Natural Science
Course Code
NATS 1700
Dov Lungu

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Term 1 Exam: NATS 1700A
What’s a Computer?
An electronic device capable of assisting in the performance of almost any non-physical work
An electronic machine capable of performing calculations and other manipulations of various
types of data, under the control of a stored set of instructions
A programmable electronic device that can store, retrieve and process data
An electronic device that can store, retrieve and process data, and can be programmed with
instructions that it remembers
A device that can accept information from the outside world, process that information, make
decisions based on the results of its processing, and then return the information to the outside
world in its new form
A device used to process information according to a well-defined procedure
What’s Good About Computers?
Payroll, inventory, word processors, spreadsheets, databases
Reduce costs and improve service
Enable new form of business like
WWW, E-mail, blogs, instant messaging, social networks , twitter, telephony, discussion groups,
Easier to search, access, collect, storage, and distribute information
Education & Training:
Web sites, Moodle, e-mail, collaborative software
Basic and advanced skills, foreign languages, ‘distance learning’
Electronic financial transactions:
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), Point-of-Sales Terminals (POSs), electronic banking and
Towards a ‘cashless society’? (Apple Pay)
Crime Fighting:
Networks, databases
Narrowing down the list of suspects; detecting insurance fraud; matching pictures and fingerprints
Health & Medicine:
Medical imaging using scientific visualization
oCT (computer-aided tomography) scanners
oMRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
obetter diagnoses, more accurate surgery
Monitoring devices
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oPacemakers, mini-defibrillators
oprevent fatal heart-attacks
Issues Raised By Computers
Benefits have a price and side effects
Computers usage raises a series of important and often controversial socio-cultural issues
oWork and unemployment
oFreedom of expression
oCentralization and control Human dignity and self-image
The Two Sides of ATMs
oLess bank tellers needed
oBut more people are needed in the computer industry
Alienation and consumer service
oNo human contact and limited interaction
oBut people are still available
oPeople are robbed after withdrawing cash
oCard are stolen and counterfeited
oBut the banking industry is fighting crime vigorously
Loss of privacy
oA person whereabouts and her financial transaction can be tracked
oBut new measures are put in place to protect data privacy
oAccounts wrongly credited or debited
oBut in some cases computers can reduce mistakes and increase safety
Solutions to Computer Problems
oBetter software to prevent mistakes Managerial
oBetter business policies
oEffective law-enforcement, criminal penalties, legislation and regulation
oCustomers and computer users must become educated about the tools they use
oCompetition and consumer demand generate improvements
oPeople decide what’s best; what should be done and what shouldn’t
The Beginnings of the Modern Computer
The Evolution of Computers
A long and complex story
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The result of many disconnected inventions and ideas
Some of these inventions converged in the 20th century to create the digital computer
Initially, computers were used as highly-efficient calculators
New applications were gradually introduced
Many of these applications reached the masses
By the beginning of 21st century computers become electronic appliances
The Abacus
Developed over 2000 years ago by the Chinese
A manual device to make everyday calculations easier
oCalculus (latin) = pebble
oKeeps track of sums, carries, etc.
First in a long line and devices and machines developed during the century to enable calculations
The Idea of a Computer
My friend Herschel, calling upon me, brought with him the calculations of the computers, and we commenced the tedious process of
verification. After a time many discrepancies occurred, and at one point these discordances were so numerous that I exclaimed, “I
wish to God these calculations had been executed by steam.”
- British mathematician Charles Babbage, 1821
The Two “Engines”
The difference engine: an advanced calculating machine
The analytical engine: a programmable, mechanical computer
The only way to build those “engines” then was by using rods and gears and they were never
made to work
They were meant to be powered by STEAM !
The Difference Engine
1823: Babbage started work on the Difference Engine
oTo mass produce astronomical tables quickly and accurately
Astronomical tables were used to calculate planetary positions, lunar phases,
eclipses and calendrical information
Their computation and printing was to be automated
A special-purpose calculating machine that could perform multi-step operations based on the
results of previous computations
oOrdinary arithmetic calculating machines could only carry out individual calculations
The first to successfully embody mathematical rules in its mechanism
Employed method of differences to calculate algebraic expressions called polynomials (a sum of
oAll operations were reduced to additions and subtractions repeated many times over
Importance of the Difference Engine
The first attempt to devise a computing machine that was automatic in action and well-adapted,
by its printing mechanism, to a mathematical task of considerable importance
An example of government subsidization of innovation and technology development
Spin offs to the machine-tool “industry”
The Analytical Engine
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