### INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS

### WHAT IS A COMPUTER?

A computer is an electronic device which is capable of handling large amounts of data and possesses characteristics such as high speed, accuracy and ability to store a set of instructions (program) for solving a problem. Computers can perform a veriety of mathematical calculations. They can repeat a complicated mathematical calculation million times without error. They can sort data, merge lists, search files and make logical decisions and comparisons. However, computer is devoid of any original thinking. It does nothing but what it is told to do. The computer is provided with a set of instructions called a program which controls all the operations of the computer.

### HISTORY OF COMPUTERS

The second half of the 20th century has come to be known as the “Age of computers”. The human fingers, the first device used for computation, gave way to the ABACUS, the first example of a digital computer. Joseph Jacquard in 1801, was responsible for taking the first major step in the development of computers. He became the forerunner of the punched cards still in use today. Charles Babbage’s “Differential Engine” completed in 1833, proved to be the fundamental basis for the development of the modern computer and he is rightly called “the father of the computers”. In 1890 Hermwn Hollertith continued the work and devised a coding system to be punched on cards to represent data. He started selling his machines and the company he founded is now called the International Business Machines (IBM).