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  • History of arithmetic machines

    In the spring of 1865, British Vice-Admiral R. Fitzroy committed suicide. Upon learning of his death, the wife of a Scottish fisherman in desperation exclaimed: "Who will take care of our husbands now?" The fact is that the admiral began in 1861 to draw up maps that he called synoptic. His storm warnings were awaited by sailors and fishermen, his predictions came in hundred-odd points along the entire coast of England. But Fitzroy's forecasts did not always come true: only 11 weather stations worked in the whole country and there was not enough information to create an advance forecast. Critics did not know pity, and the admiral's forecasts were often laughed at, and he painfully experienced his mistakes, because at times they were the lives of fishermen. And one day nerves could not stand. ..

    Mathematician. An ancient engraving.

    There was time. The achievements of science and technology have grown, and with them the price of error in all spheres of human activity has skyrocketed.

    One of the most common names of the time in which we live is the "age of cybernetics".And this name arose due to the widest distribution of computer technology. The list of useful cases performed by computers can be continued indefinitely. But if a person sitting at a computer desk makes a mistake, then it can have the most unexpected consequences. The most expensive mistake made when working with a computer, perhaps, can be considered missing a hyphen in the program, because of what had to undermine the rocket, launched from Cape Kennedy to Venus. And the rocket cost more than 18 million dollars!

    Counting machine of the first half of the XIX century.

    Pascal arithmetic machine. XVII century.

    The computer, this seemingly "modern" invention, has its own ancient history.

    Here are a few facts from the rich biography of the computer.

    In the south-west of England, on the Salisbury Plain, is Stone-henge - a structure of huge stones arranged in a certain order. His age is almost 4 thousand years! After much research, scientists came to the conclusion that Stonehenge is the oldest on earth computation device created by human hands. The stones are arranged in such a way that they can be used to determine the seasons, predict solar and lunar eclipses.

    The national museum in Athens in 1901 enrolled a mysterious formless bronze object discovered by sponge collectors among the wreckage of the sunken ancient Greek ship. The find was so destroyed by time, entirely covered with corrosion and oxides, that originally the museum staff could not recognize that the object fell into their hands, determined only the time of its manufacture - I century BC.In the middle of the century, scientists returned to this exhibit. It took a lot of time and effort to produce the appropriate treatment and careful restoration of the mysterious object. What was the astonishment of scientists when it was possible to establish that the chaotic heap of the brass affected by sea water and time is the remnants of a rather complex mechanical calculating machine of the ancient Greeks!

    It consisted of a set of gears, handles and tablets with astronomical notations and inscriptions. Judging by these inscriptions, the machine was designed to calculate the sunrise and sunset, its eclipses, the phases of the moon, etc.

    But in addition to astronomers, numerous merchants, government officials and even pharmacists used the services of devices that facilitated counting. Prototypes for a long time indispensable accounting account - sticks with strings of stones, pebbles, shells, and sticks strung on them - appeared a long time ago and among different peoples.

    It is believed that the first real counting machine was invented and constructed in 1623 by the German professor of mathematics and astronomy V. Schickard. It was intended mainly for performing operations of addition and subtraction. But since the Schickard machine was made in only one instance, and that the car was burnt during the fire in early 1624, it did not have practically no influence on the development of counting equipment. Therefore, the date of birth of a mechanical calculating machine is considered the date of the creation of the famous French scientist B. Pascal "arithmetic machine" in 1642.He worked on the invention for 12 years and built 50 operating models!

    Robot computer.

    In Russia, serial production of computers began in the late XIX century. The Russian inventor V. Ozner organized on the Vasilievsky Island in St. Petersburg a factory for the production of self-constructed arithmometers. And the first "summing machine" in Russia appeared much earlier - in 1770.According to the inscription on it, it was "invented and manufactured by Eugene Jacobson, a watchmaker and a mechanic in the town of Nesvizh."

    Until recently, in all books that talked about the creation of the world's first electronic digital computer Moucheley-Eckert, the name of John Atanasov, if mentioned, was only in the notes: they say, there lived such a physicist Atanasov and he also built a car inwhich used elements typical of a first-generation computer. But on October 10, 1973, the US federal judge declared the Mochali-Eckert patent invalid. During the process it became clear that the basic principles of their machines were directly borrowed from the world's first automatic digital computer, created by John Atanasov in 1937-1942.After the trial, Atanasov, with characteristic good-naturedness, said that he and Mouchli remained in excellent friendly relations and that he almost does not feel distressed by the long silence of his priority: the scientist, like the father of cybernetics N. Wiener, believed that the idea of ​​a digital computer "simplysoared in the air. "

    In 1950 in the Institute of Electrical Engineering in Kiev was tested the first computer in our country, known as MESM( small electronic calculating machine).Serial production of computers began in 1953.And in 5 years the production of the first generation M-20 cars began.

    Calculator.

    What can a computer do? One day he answered this question himself. During the experiment on machine translation of the text from one language to another, the computer suddenly showed "megalomania".For example, the phrase "A computer can do many things, but not all," he translated thus: "A computer can do almost anything!" And indeed, there is practically no field of human activity where computer systems are not used.

    For one hundred and thirty years, scientists have tried to decipher the manuscripts of the Maya people. Finally decided to call for help computer technology.

    The program for selecting and searching for the right words was compiled, according to which the machine performed billions of computational operations. As a result, in less than a year, specialists read almost half of the texts found!

    We dial the helpdesk phone, for example, Aeroflot and quickly get the necessary help. Such speediness became possible only thanks to a computer that was connected to various services that transmit information about the weather, changes in the timetable, flights and much more that a passenger can ask.

    Already developed programs for a computer that perceives emotions and possesses the signs of artificial intelligence. If this succeeds, the computer can conduct a lively conversation with any operator, even an unprepared one. Such a machine is difficult to "deceive", it will correct the person who made a mistake in the program. ..

    The vice-president of one very large American company sometimes came in( in the absence of employees) to the department where the computer was standing, and made in the punch card "only"One extra hole. As a result, the machine carefully transferred a portion of the company's revenues to the vice-president's personal account. And this went on for several years before they discovered fraud.

    Because of a computer error in the information center of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the deputy head of a large store in Detroit spent 11 days in prison. Traffic controller stopped his car because of a minor violation of traffic rules and "just in case" sent a request on the radio about the offender. The computer, which stores information about all the criminals who ever fell into the hands of justice, replied in a minute that this man was a burglar who had recently fled from penal servitude. The "dangerous criminal" was immediately escorted to the prison cell. Only 11 days later they guessed to check the fingerprints of the detainee and found that the machine had in mind his namesake, who meanwhile safely walked freely.

    Once, with the help of the machine, they decided to determine the most economical menu. To do this, the computer entered information about the calorie content of various products and the seasonal fluctuations in their value. After long and complicated calculations, they received the answer: "Eighteen liters of vinegar a day."At first they thought that there was a mistake in the program, but after repeating the calculation the machine gave the old answer. It turned out that 18 liters of vinegar contained 1800 calories - the amount taken as the basis of the daily diet. The program was made changes, and after thinking the machine recommended: "Thirty-two glasses of tea with lemon."

    And yet, despite such anecdotal( and not entirely anecdotal) cases, we are infinitely grateful to our tireless assistants, without whom today the life of mankind is unthinkable.

    Do you know?

    What is an abacus?

    Counting board from ancient Greeks and Romans, used later in Western Europe up to the XVIII century for arithmetic calculations. The most ancient abacus discovered to this day refers to the W millennium BC.It was found in the last century on one of the islands in the Aegean Sea.