Information Technology History

Feb 10 In Computer History From ASCC To SSEC

What In The World Is ASCC To SSEC?

In 1948 news hit the streets slowly. They had no internet like we know it today to speed up delivery of important information for the common man. On February 10, 1948 it was announced that Thomas J. Watson, of IBM, achieved his goal of doing something for the common business man. It took 15 days for the news to be published broadly.

On January 27, 1948 Thomas achieved his goal of taking the Harvard Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC) and converted it to something the common business man could use: the Selective Sequence Controlled Calculator (SSEC). Can you image the SSEC contained 21,400 relays and 12,500 vacuum tubes.

Vacuum Tubes You Say?

Some of you will remember the days when televisions even used vacuum tubes. That seems like a long time ago. Well this is because it wasn’t until the 1950s-60s most TV vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors in the West. Those of you into special high-end equipment such as audio amplifiers may find them still used today because their amplification quality is still better. But for the rest of us, vacuum tubes were gone in the 1970’s.

Currently audio vacuum tube production is largely limited to 3 locations: China, Russia and the Czech, and Slovak Republics. While many other developed nations still produce and develop vacuum based electronics, only Japan and Germany have produced glass vacuum tubes suitable for audio recently.

Now Back To Computers And Vacuum Tubes

Way back when, computers did use vacuum tubes. That’s when a computer covered a city block or more. The size was so large because vacuum tubes were large. Obviously the size was impractical. So technology marched on. Transistors were introduced. And they were wonderful because they are lower cost, smaller, stay cooler, and are more energy efficient.

So What About Transistors and Computers Today?

Today the most powerful computer processor uses 1.2 trillion transistors as announced by Cerebras. Their CPU chip has 400,000 cores and contains 1.2 trillion transistors on a die over 46,000 square mm in area. That’s roughly the size of a square about 8.5 inches on each side. That sure beats the city block size of the early computer processors.

So What About Us

We don’t need the most powerful computer processor to create our websites but we need some computing power. So our computers today use transistors.

Why Are Transistors Found In Our Computer?

It is the transistors that communicate with the computer (machine). The computer (machine) only understands the switch concept (on and off or 0 and 1). Transistors are on and off switches. WordPress which uses PHP cannot talk to the computer (machine). It needs something to intervene.

So How Does A Computer (Machine) Understand WordPress PHP?

Obviously WordPress which is written in PHP is not on and off switches; however PHP is based on the C language which is a language that can be compiled. A compiler takes the compiled language (the program code (source code) PHP which is C language which is compiled language) and converts it to machine executable code (on and off switches known as 0 and 1).

So Today’s Invention Transformed The Size Of Our Computers

How much smaller can they get? Who knows? Technology marches on with wonderful discoveries.

Enjoy the usage of your computer today. It works so hard behind the scenes. All you need to do is give it some data.