Computers: Invention of the Century .
The History of Computers Only once in a lifetime will a new invention come about to touch every aspect of our lives. Such devices changed the way we manage, work, and live. A machine that has done all this and more now exists in nearly every business in the United States. This incredible invention is the computer. The electronic computer has been around for over a half-century, but its ancestors have been around for 2000 years. However, only in the last 40 years has the computer changed American management to it's greatest extent. From the first wooden abacus to the latest high-speed microprocessor, the computer has changed nearly every aspect of management, and our lives for the better. The very earliest existence of the modern day computer's ancestor is the abacus. These date back to almost 2000 years ago (Dolotta, 1985). It is simply a wooden rack holding parallel wires on which beads are strung. When these beads are moved along the wire according to programming rules that the user must memorize. All ordinary arithmetic operations can be performed on the abacus. This was one of the first management tools used. The next innovation in computers took place in 1694 when Blaise Pascal invented the first digital calculating machine. It could only add numbers and they had to be entered by turning dials. It was designed to help Pascal's father, who was a tax collector, manage the town's taxes (Beer, 1966). In the early 1800s, a mathematics professor named Charles Babbage designed an automatic calculation machine (Dolotta, 1985). It was steam powered and could store up to 1000 50-digit numbers. Built in to his machine were operations that included everything a modern general-purpose computer would need. It was programmed by and stored data on cards with holes punched in them, appropriately called punch cards. This machine was extremely useful to managers that delt with large volumes of good.