You will be able to better understand the role and impact that information technology has had on our lives if you can look at it in a historical context




Four basic periods



The Pre-Mechanical age 3,000 BC to 1450 AD


Speaking and drawing pictures

No real way to store knowledge

Based on collective memory

Named the Oral tradition

5,000 years ago that the Sumerians in Mesopotamia devised a writing system


Used signs to express spoken sounds and words

2,000 BC The Phoenicians further simplified writing-true alphabet

Greeks adopted the Phoenicians alphabet and added vowels

Romans gave the letters Latin names which is the alphabet that we know today




Religious leaders in Mesopotamia kept books

Collections of rectangular clay tablets inscribed with CUNEIFORM

Egyptians kept scrolls or sheets or pa-pie-rus

1,000 years later the Greeks folded the leaves of pa-pi-rus and made a book

Dictionary and the Encyclopedia created the first type of information processing through the lists of words and sorting information alphabetically




Vertical lines scratched on stone or sticks

Egyptians used 1-9 with the number ten as a U

100 and 200 AD Actually the Hindus in India that created the numbers we know today

700 years later the concept of zero was developed and the numbering system including zero made its way to Europe sometime n the 12th century

First calculators-abacus which was the first numerical information sorter




The Mechanical Age 1450-1840


Writing, pens, books and numbers were the basic building blocks that humans used to better understand the world around them

Books were still available to a limited number of people

Libraries were for the rich, the churches or governments and monarchies

The dissemination of knowledge and ides would take many, many years

For civilization to progress, information had to become more accessible to a larger portion of the population

Started to produce machines that could do some of the work that humans used to have to do themselves


The First Information Explosion


Johan Gutenberg in Mains, Germany invented the movable metal type printing press in 1450

Until then, everything was hand printed

Moveable type produced pages in minutes rather than in weeks

Thousand of copies could be made with a single run

New innovations of the printed word sprang up. Books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines

Created more democratic forms of government based on literacy and education


Slide Rules, the Pascaline and Leibniz’s machines


Early 1600’s slide rule was invented the beginning of an analog computer

Slide rule was a mainstay of science for hundreds of years

1950 Pascal, a French mathematician, invented a machine called the Pascaline. It used a series of wheels and cogs to add and subtract numbers


Babbage’s Machine


150 years later still having trouble with accurate computation

Everything from astronomy to geography relied on long mathematical tables which were prone to error

Babbage invented a machine that could calculate numbers and print the results

1820 produced a machine called the DIFFERENCE ENGINE

1830 invented the ANALYTICAL MACHINE which was remarkably like today’s computers

Similar to a modern day computer’s memory (store ) and central processing unit (mill were the numbers were manipulated)

Not until 1950’s that Babbage’s machine was rediscovered



The Electromechanical Age 1840-1940


The discovery of ways to harness electricity and that knowledge and information could be translated into electrical impulses

The Telegraph and the development of Morse Code where the alphabet could be translated into dots and dashes (bits) which were transformed into electrical impulses and transmitted over a wire

1876 Telephone by Alexander Graham Bell

The discovery that electrical waves travel through space helped Marconi to invent the Radio

These technologies form the basis of modern day telecommunication


Electromechanical Computing


United States having trouble keeping up with a census taken every 10 years

1880 the American population totaled more than 50 million people

1890 a man named Hollerith invented a machine that could automatically sort census cards into numbered categories using electrical sensing devices.

Sold the machine to the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM)

IBM then funded Aiken, a Ph.D. student at Harvard University to combine the new IBM machine with Babbage’s programmable computing machine


The Electronic Age 1940-Present


Took 50 years to invent the computer as we know it today

There is disagreement on who built the first electronic digital computer

United States and in Germany using vacuum tubes, much like what is in a TV to do high speed data processing

ENIAC, EDVAC, ADSAC and UNIVAC all invented

Americans beat out the Brits with the UNIVAC, considered the world’s first commercial computer


Four Generations of Digital Computing


Last 50 years, information technology has traditionally been broken down into 4-5 distinct computer generations, each marked by the technology used to create the MAIN ELEMENT (the electronic component used to store and process information)


The First Generation 1951-1958

Used vacuum tubes as their main element


The Second Generation 1959-1963

AT&T Bell’s laboratories discovered crystalline mineral materials called semiconductors used for the main element


The Third Generation 1964-1979

Integrated transistors were replaced into integrated circuits- thousands of tiny transistors etched on a small silicon chip.


The Fourth Generation 1979-Present

The use of large scale integrated circuits (LSICs) and very large scale integrated circuits (VLSIC’s) containing hundreds of thousands to over a million transistors on one single tiny chip

and Microprocessors which contain memory, logic and control circuits (CPU) on a tiny chip

Macintosh and the IBM PC along with 4th generation software products such as Lotus 1-2-3 Word Perfect Word for Windows