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A Course in the History of Computation

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129473D
Original Publication Date: 1985-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 5 page(s) / 26K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

M. R. Williams: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

In 1983 the author first gave a third-year college course in the history of computation at the University of Calgary. His article describes the development and evolution of the course, which is intended to show how the process of calculating has been performed throughout history, as well as the people, events, and forces involved in the development of the electronic computer.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 20% of the total text.

Page 1 of 5

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1985 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

A Course in the History of Computation

M. R. Williams

(Image Omitted: © 1985 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's Address: Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada. © 1985 AFIPS 0164-

1239/85/030241-244

A Course in the History of Computation

M. R. Williams .00/00)

In 1983 the author first gave a third-year college course in the history of computation at the University of Calgary. His article describes the development and evolution of the course, which is intended to show how the process of calculating has been performed throughout history, as well as the people, events, and forces involved in the development of the electronic computer.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [History of Computing] -- hardware, people, software, systems; K.3.2 [Computers and Education] - - computer science education, curriculum General Terms: Human Factors Additional Key Words and Phrases: calculating machines, bibliography

The Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) has recently introduced a course in which the only topic considered is the historical development of the process of computation. This note describes our experiences in the organization and teaching of the course.

In the spring of 1982 I proposed that our department provide a course in which the students would be given an appreciation of how the process of computation was performed over the ages, as well as some knowledge of the people, events, and forces involved in the development of the electronic digital computer and how it has evolved from its early beginnings.

The University of Calgary offers a general "Computers and Society" course that includes an elementary section on historical "topics; thus the demand for a basic introduction was already satisfied. The new course would treat topics in the development of calculating machines in some depth; consequently, I wanted to limit the enrollment to students who were familiar with the principles and practice of current machine architecture and programming. Enough time would simply not be available to describe the functions of machine components such as registers, memory, machine instruction sets, and peripheral devices -- as well as to consider their invention and development. I therefore set the course at a third-year level...