CS-102: The First Computers


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Previous Article Found At https://xenfomation.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/cs-101-defining-computer-science/

Long, Long, Long Ago…

… the Earth just orbited around the Sun as planets tend to do.  In fact, the Earth, Sun, and the general galaxy were not even called by the names with which we refer to them today.  Earth pretty much did its own thing without being noticed.

Yep, not much happened until life appeared on Earth…


Well, that guy has the burden of proof (despite being a resident alien to Earth), but the point is once there was life, there became the need for computing.  Amid the cradle of what would become our civilization – or modern man – grew the very first computers.  Now, to be fair there were early humans and the concept of modern computer science may or may not have crossed their minds as time was need to develop language, number systems, and much more.


So, let’s take a step back (and forward) in time to explore The Human as The First Computer…


Primitive Instinct & Beyond

While it may be ironic, the very species that would eventually conceive of a device to handle computational needs would be none other than our own prehistoric brains.  Stuffed neatly within our skulls for protection, the human brain is a perfect example of a computer: constantly analyzing information, receiving input, producing output, and performing incessant calculations as to navigate their environment.

Much like computers, there was an order of operation to things and, at a low level, we had to cover the basics first: sleep, wake up, make fire, hunt food, find water, eat, and reproduce.  Our more primitive selves executed self preservation and any thing outside of that was, more or less, an additional program to be executed.  We ran in a loop until the human computer’s time to run was, well… terminated.


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To put the past under a modern perspective, imagine our distant ancestors roaming around without shared language, any numerical systems, pattern recognition, and so forth.  Just think about it.  Long before our A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s, quantity was probably a feeling, such as as hunger.  “Full or empty?”  Distance and time were no doubt very abstract concepts, if at all, until the days of the sun dial and a need to have some means to understanding movement from point A to point B.

It would be a long time before systems of whole numbers (for counting) as well as fractions would be invented.  Languages, while specific to regions, came along and our human ancestors became much more powerful human computers.


Mesopotamia.  Egypt.  Greece.  They all had both language, number systems, and the ability to interact as a civilization.  I suppose the comparison is to a modern operating system: built upon standardized compiled languages, able to process numbers, and interact with third-party systems.

Quickly Summarizing

From the past to present of our human history, we were the original computers: not limited, but perfect for computing the environments around us.  The key difference is that while we invented computers, computers have yet to invent for themselves.

Time will show how a tool (us and or computers) continue to process information as to produce usable output.

– JK Benedict | @xenfomation


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