Week 3 - Counting and Computing
Click on the title of each topic below (except Numeric Methods) to be
linked to an article about that topic. Each student is responsible for
reading every article.
Computers use different numbering systems then people do.
Ancient Babylon used a form of base 60 counting.
This article gives descriptions of pre-industrial counting and
computing, including counting boards and the abacus.
Wikipedia article about quipa, pre-columbian counting ropes.
This article gives more details/pictures about the knots.
This wikipedia article gives a high level view of the history of
calculators, from the abacus to the handheld electronic
Napier's bones used logarithms to compute complicated calculations.
Napier's bones are the predecessor to a slide-rule, the once proud
symbol of geeks everywhere.
The Jacquard loom used punched cards to control the pattern being
woven. It had a direct impact on later information technology
Charles Babbage designed two impressive pre-electical computers: the
difference engine and the analytical engine. Ada Byron King, the
Countess of Lovelace, gained fame by writing the first programs for the
analytical engine, thus becoming the world's first programmer. She is
also famous for the quote "the Analytical Engine weaves algebraic
Read the first four pages (through binary addition)
Hollerith adopted punched cards for input purposes for counting
mechanisms. The initial application was the 1890 US Census. It was so
successful, that his company eventually became renamed as IBM.
Electronic voting has been one extremely controversial application of
modern counting technology. This article summarizes some of the
A much darker application of modern counting technology came with the
equipment that IBM supplied to the Germans leading up to WWII. This
article highlights the recent disclosures about this