1. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52619
    06 May '15 12:091 edit
    http://www.jameco.com/Jameco/workshop/rollcall/first-digital-computer.html?trk_msg=46M5MTRBL37KTDR5KI1O9S01AC&trk_contact=4QS57QMKLS4URV9Q937AF8LMM4&utm_source=Listrak&utm_medium=Email&utm_term=Digital+Computer&utm_campaign=May+Newsletter+2015

    Sorry about the long link!
  2. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
    Joined
    27 Oct '04
    Moves
    78641
    06 May '15 13:47
    Not really, the Atanasoff-Berry machine was not programmable, it was a special purpose device for solving systems of linear equations. Collosus was the first electronic machine which was programmable and ENIAC the first that was Turing complete. What matters is Turing completeness - so ENIAC has priority. This isn't to diminish the Atanasoff-Berry machine or Collosus it's just that they weren't the complete machine that ENIAC was.
  3. Joined
    01 Apr '09
    Moves
    26584
    06 May '15 14:07
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    Not really, the Atanasoff-Berry machine was not programmable, it was a special purpose device for solving systems of linear equations. Collosus was the first electronic machine which was programmable and ENIAC the first that was Turing complete. What matters is Turing completeness - so ENIAC has priority. This isn't to diminish the Atanasoff-Berry machine or Collosus it's just that they weren't the complete machine that ENIAC was.
    What is meant by "Turing complete"?
  4. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
    Joined
    27 Oct '04
    Moves
    78641
    06 May '15 15:44
    Originally posted by John Osmar
    What is meant by "Turing complete"?
    Good question. Basically, that it can do any calculation that can be done on a Universal Turing machine up to a given problem size. This includes all modern computers, but not things like the Atanasoff-Berry machine because it was designed to solve linear systems. The Wikipedia page looks like it gives a reasonable introduction.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_machine
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_completeness
  5. Joined
    11 Nov '05
    Moves
    43938
    06 May '15 17:19
    It was a computer, it computed numbers automatically.
    And it was digital, as the thread-title says.
    Eniac was also a digital computer but it came later.

    So let's conclude - Eniac was *not* the first digital computer!

    (And by the way - Pluto is not a planet - anymore.)
  6. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
    Joined
    27 Oct '04
    Moves
    78641
    06 May '15 19:41
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    It was a computer, it computed numbers automatically.
    And it was digital, as the thread-title says.
    Eniac was also a digital computer but it came later.

    So let's conclude - Eniac was *not* the first digital computer!

    (And by the way - Pluto is not a planet - anymore.)
    But you can run a simulation of ABC (Atanasoff-Berry Computer) on ENIAC. You cannot run a simulation of ENIAC on ABC so ENIAC has priority in this. Otherwise priority has to go to one of the earlier tabulating machines [1] or Babbage's difference engine. All of these devices are digital machines.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_record_equipment
  7. Joined
    11 Nov '05
    Moves
    43938
    06 May '15 19:47
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    But you can run a simulation of ABC (Atanasoff-Berry Computer) on ENIAC. You cannot run a simulation of ENIAC on ABC so ENIAC has priority in this. Otherwise priority has to go to one of the earlier tabulating machines [1] or Babbage's difference engine. All of these devices are digital machines.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_record_equipment
    Doesn't matter.

    I understand the words 'digital' and 'computer'. And that's what it is all about.
    Tell me about Neumann, and other classification words, but the fact remain. ENIAC was not the first digital computer.
    If you say that Babbage's difference engine also is a digital computer doesn't change the fact: "ENIAC was not the first digital computer" because there were earlier ones.
  8. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
    Joined
    27 Oct '04
    Moves
    78641
    06 May '15 20:54
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    Doesn't matter.

    I understand the words 'digital' and 'computer'. And that's what it is all about.
    Tell me about Neumann, and other classification words, but the fact remain. ENIAC was not the first digital computer.
    If you say that Babbage's difference engine also is a digital computer doesn't change the fact: "ENIAC was not the first digital computer" because there were earlier ones.
    To qualify as a computer it has to be Turing complete, otherwise it's a calculator.
  9. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52619
    07 May '15 00:43
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    To qualify as a computer it has to be Turing complete, otherwise it's a calculator.
    The thing that stands out was the dude had access to the original computer manual and went from there, and obviously improved it but the thing is, if he had not had access to the earlier manual, would ENIAC ever have been built?
  10. Joined
    11 Nov '05
    Moves
    43938
    07 May '15 04:40
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    To qualify as a computer it has to be Turing complete, otherwise it's a calculator.
    That's one definition. And according to that definition ENIAC was the first computer. It's all about definitions.

    But the definition of a computer is only one definition. If we use another definition, then Babbage's difference engine is also a computer.

    According to another definition of computer one computer was named Henrietta Swan Leavitt and worked for Hubble in his Observatory. She was however not a digital computer but nevertheless hired as a computer ant that was her title. See, everything is about the definition.

    According to the article "The Controversy Behind the World's First
    Digital Computer" show that the first computer was *not* ENIAC. And I say it all depends how you define a 'digital computer'. And that's the very controversy.

    If you use a definition that makes ENIAC the first digital computer, then according to your definitions ENIAC in fact is the first computer. I myself have a broader view. You say yourself that even Babbage's difference engine can be considered to be a digital computer, I don't argue about that, but that is not the point of this thread. The only thing this thread is about is the article's assumption that ENIAC is not the first digital computer, nothing more.

    It's all a matter of definitions. And there are more than one.
  11. Subscribersonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    slatington, pa, usa
    Joined
    28 Dec '04
    Moves
    52619
    07 May '15 10:06
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    That's one definition. And according to that definition ENIAC was the first computer. It's all about definitions.

    But the definition of a computer is only one definition. If we use another definition, then Babbage's difference engine is also a computer.

    According to another definition of computer one computer was named Henrietta Swan Leavitt and wor ...[text shortened]... igital computer, nothing more.

    It's all a matter of definitions. And there are more than one.
    But Babbage himself never completed the engine, not sure if it ever was completed fully.
  12. Standard memberDeepThought
    Losing the Thread
    Cosmopolis
    Joined
    27 Oct '04
    Moves
    78641
    07 May '15 15:37
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    That's one definition. And according to that definition ENIAC was the first computer. It's all about definitions.

    But the definition of a computer is only one definition. If we use another definition, then Babbage's difference engine is also a computer.

    According to another definition of computer one computer was named Henrietta Swan Leavitt and wor ...[text shortened]... igital computer, nothing more.

    It's all a matter of definitions. And there are more than one.
    I agree that the answer one gets depends on how one defines what a computer is. However, for the definition of computer to be meaningful, I feel that it has to be an automatic machine that is Turing complete.

    Use of electronics isn't a requirement, the problem with Babbage's engine is that it was never actually built - although, according to the Wikipedia article, his son built a simplified version which was demonstrated in the early part of the twentieth century. If the simplified analytical engine was Turing Complete it has priority. If you are going to include non-programmable devices then there are earlier machines which would qualify (although not things like Archimedes' Antikythera device or, for that matter, slide-rules which were analogue).

    The automation requirement means that people who were computers (the older meaning of computer was a person who did arithmetic) can't be included. Neither can those old mechanical calculators where you had to turn the handle. Programmability is also important, otherwise it's not a Turing machine. Almost all earlier machines were single purpose. Collosus was programmable, but only by rewiring it. ENIAC didn't require rewiring.
  13. Joined
    11 Nov '05
    Moves
    43938
    07 May '15 15:47
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    I agree that the answer one gets depends on how one defines what a computer is.
    And that's exactly my point. And furthermore, I happen to share this point with the writer of the article that was linked.

    Other controversies are...:
    Is Pluto a planet? Depends of the definition.
    Who was the first aeroplane constructor? Depends of the definition.
    Who built the first automobile? Depends of the definition.
    Where do the happiest people live? Depends of the definition.
    Which is the most barbaric country in the world? Depends of the definition.
    And so on... every controversy is about the definition.

    What is the first computer in the history? Does it matter? ENIAC was one of them. Enough for me.
  14. Standard memberwolfgang59
    invigorated
    Dunedin
    Joined
    09 Jun '07
    Moves
    45641
    08 May '15 04:01
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    And that's exactly my point. And furthermore, I happen to share this point with the writer of the article that was linked.

    Other controversies are...:
    Is Pluto a planet? Depends of the definition.
    Who was the first aeroplane constructor? Depends of the definition.
    Who built the first automobile? Depends of the definition.
    Where do the happiest peop ...[text shortened]... What is the first computer in the history? Does it matter? ENIAC was one of them. Enough for me.
    ... and who is a True Scotsman?
  15. Joined
    18 Jan '07
    Moves
    6873
    10 May '15 17:39
    Originally posted by FabianFnas
    It was a computer, it computed numbers automatically.
    Oh, come on. That's a mere linguistic quibble. It's not a computer as we understand it now. If we allow any meaning of the word "computer" and "digital", Blaise Pascal may have something to say in the matter. Or Babbage, for that matter. But those are not computers "within the meaning of the act"; and neither is this one.

    Nevertheless, ENIAC wasn't the first digital computer. It's a disgrace that so many "computer-knowledgable" people display their computer lack of knowledge by never having heard of Konrad Zuse, but there you have it.

    Kvikkalkuel, anyone?
Back to Top