If you sometimes think your laptop is a bit bulky or want a thinner screen, be glad you didn’t have a machine like the first electronic computer – ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). It weighed over 27 tons and occupied 1,800 square feet!
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Looking at black-and-white images of early computers may be a laughing matter today, but they were the predecessors of our high-tech machines and were part of the evolution to a connected world. Some comparisons on computers from past years and their related hardware may surprise you.
On the one hand, the QWERTY keyboard we still use today was not designed for ease or efficiency. It is a relic of the past, and relates to the way typewriters worked, in the 20th century. On typewriters, the most frequently used letters were spaced widely apart to prevent the lever arms from becoming tangled when they pressed the letters onto the page. As technology progressed we lost the typewriter, but its influence on the keyboard shows no signs of changing anytime soon.
Another aspect of computer hardware has changed dramatically over time: data storage. As data processing developed in the late 1900s, the need for data storage increased. Usually, entire rooms were devoted to data storage.
But in 1980, the US-based International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) made a breakthrough: it broke the gigabyte barrier with its last hard drive. Called IBM 3380, it was a cabinet the size of a regular refrigerator and weighed around 250kg!
Today even our phones have more data than that, and the future will be so much more amazing. IBM recently said that it can now store one bit of data on just 12 atoms (today’s computers need a million atoms of space to do just that).
Who knows what future data storage will look like?
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