Electronic Digital

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Frequently Asked Questions...

What is the difference between an electric and an electronic digital computer?

where, when, and why was the first electric digital computer built?

Best Answer...


Computer is a vague term, really. Your speedometer is a computer of sorts. It takes revolutions of the wheels and converts them to mph. And then it moves a needle to reflect that velocity. So a computer is kind of a calculator. In the case of your speedometer, it's a mechanical computer.

Your refrigerator or your oven has to know when to cycle on or off. Otherwise your food would freeze or burn up. So there is a thermometer that measures the temperatur. There is also an electrical switch that turns on at the minimum point and turns off at the maximum point. In that case, it's an electrical computer.

Sounds too simplistic, doesn't it? Well, actually it is. An abacus is a computer. With the advent of digital logic and circuitry to handle it, computers became much more than a simple decision maker for "If..., Then..., Else..." Not only could it make more decisions based upon binary logic, digital code could be written so they could make more complex decisions and calculations. Hence, no longer electrical, nor analog as your speedometer or refrigerator, but digital. And with semiconductor circuitry, it became electronic.

As for the first digital computer, I'd have to do some lookup, but it was Babbage in 1870 or 1890, when faster methods for tallying the census became necessary. It was still mechanical, but used digital logic principles. The first electronic digital computer was built in, what, 1949? 1954? If I remember what I read, it was called Univac.