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The computer, or as the French say, l'ordinateur, is a device that computes. Especially, say, a programmable electronic machine that performs high-speed mathematical or logical operations or that assembles, stores, correlates, or otherwise processes information. Computers have a central processing unit, and will often come in a variety of form factors and colors.


For encyclopaedic purposes, Encyclopedia Gamia defines a "computer" as a Personal Computer. In essence all video game consoles are computers, each capable of logical operations, but a Personal Computer differs because it offers a full Keyboard & Mouse setup, in addition to a few other customization aspects that most consoles do not offer.

Similarly for arcade games, arcade system boards are also technically computers, and were precursors to the upgradable nature of modern PC systems, but they differ in the sense that they are dedicated game machines, whereas personal computers are general-purpose machines that can be used for practical as well as entertainment purposes.


Digital circuits

In the 1930s, Japanese NEC engineer Akira Nakashima introduced switching circuit theory. In a series of papers published from 1934 to 1936, he formulated a two-valued Boolean algebra, which he discovered independently, as a way to analyze and design circuits by algebraic means.[1][2][3][4]

Nakashima's work was later cited and elaborated on by American engineer Claude Shannon,[3] who showed a one-to-one correspondence between the concepts of Boolean logic and certain electrical circuits, now called logic gates, which are now ubiquitous in digital computers.[5] He showed that electronic relays and switches can realize the expressions of Boolean algebra.[6] The work of Nakashima and Shannon laid the foundations for practical digital circuit design, providing the mathematical foundations and tools for digital system design in almost all areas of modern technology.[4]

Mainframe computers

The first electronic transistor computer was built in the United Kingdom, by the University of Manchester in 1953.

Early electronic transistor computers were initially not stored-program computers. The first transistorized stored-program computer was the ETL Mark III, developed by Japan's Electrotechnical Laboratory.[7][8][9] It began development in 1954,[10] and was completed in 1956.[8]


The first single-chip microprocessor central processing unit was the Intel 4004.[11] It originated in Japan with the "Busicom Project"[12] as Masatoshi Shima's three-chip CPU design in 1968,[13][12] before Sharp's Tadashi Sasaki conceived of a single-chip microprocessor, which he discussed with Busicom and Intel in 1968.[14] The Intel 4004 was then designed and realized as a single-chip 4-bit microprocessor in 1970, by Intel's Federico Faggin and Busicom's Masatoshi Shima.

The first 8-bit microprocessor was the Intel 8008 in 1972. It was followed in 1974 by the Intel 8080, a more general-purpose 8-bit microprocessor designed by Federico Faggin and Masatoshi Shima.

The first single-chip 16-bit microprocessor was introduced in 1975. Panafacom, a conglomerate formed by Japanese companies Fujitsu, Fuji Electric, and Matsushita, introduced the MN1610, a commercial 16-bit microprocessor.[15][16][17] According to Fujitsu, it was "the world's first 16-bit microcomputer on a single chip".[16]

Personal computers

The invention of the microprocessor led to the development of microcomputers, also known as personal computers. The first microcomputer was Japan's Sord SMP80/08, developed in April 1972.[18] It was soon followed by several other unique hobbyist systems.

The first commercial microcomputer kits were based on the Intel 8080: the Sord SMP80/x series, released in May 1974,[18] and the Altair 8800, introduced in 1975.

The first pre-assembled desktop home computers to come equipped with monitors appeared in 1977: the Apple II, the Sord M200 Smart Home Computer,[19] and the Commodore PET.


See also


  1. History of Research on Switching Theory in Japan, IEEJ Transactions on Fundamentals and Materials, Vol. 124 (2004) No. 8, pp. 720-726, Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan
  2. Switching Theory/Relay Circuit Network Theory/Theory of Logical Mathematics, IPSJ Computer Museum, Information Processing Society of Japan
  3. 3.0 3.1 Radomir S. Stanković (University of Niš), Jaakko T. Astola (Tampere University of Technology), Mark G. Karpovsky (Boston University), Some Historical Remarks on Switching Theory, 2007, DOI
  4. 4.0 4.1 Radomir S. Stanković, Jaakko Astola (2008), Reprints from the Early Days of Information Sciences: TICSP Series On the Contributions of Akira Nakashima to Switching Theory, TICSP Series #40, Tampere International Center for Signal Processing, Tampere University of Technology
  5. Shannon, Claude (1938). "A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits". Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers 57: 713–723. doi:10.1109/t-aiee.1938.5057767. 
  6. Shannon, Claude E. (1940), A symbolic analysis of relay and switching circuits, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Electrical Engineering 
  7. Early Computers, Information Processing Society of Japan
  8. 8.0 8.1 【Electrotechnical Laboratory】 ETL Mark III Transistor-Based Computer, Information Processing Society of Japan
  9. Early Computers: Brief History, Information Processing Society of Japan
  10. Martin Fransman (1993), The Market and Beyond: Cooperation and Competition in Information Technology, page 19, Cambridge University Press
  11. Intel_4004 1971
  12. 12.0 12.1 Federico Faggin, The Making of the First Microprocessor, IEEE Solid-State Circuits Magazine, Winter 2009, IEEE Xplore
  13. Nigel Tout. The Busicom 141-PF calculator and the Intel 4004 microprocessor. Retrieved on November 15, 2009.
  14. Aspray, William (1994-05-25). Oral-History: Tadashi Sasaki. Interview #211 for the Center for the History of Electrical Engineering. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.. Retrieved on 2013-01-02.
  15. 16-bit Microprocessors. CPU Museum. Retrieved on 5 October 2010.
  16. 16.0 16.1
  17. PANAFACOM Lkit-16, Information Processing Society of Japan
  18. 18.0 18.1 【Sord】 SMP80/x series, Information Processing Society of Japan
  19. 【Sord】 M200 Smart Home Computer Series, Information Processing Society of Japan

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