The Modern Computer Turns Sixty Today

Ask the trivia question: What was the first computer? Most people would immediately answer: ENIAC. But ENIAC wasn't really the prototype of the modern computer, as it couldn't be reprogrammed to perform different tasks without taking it apart and rewiring it. A much more likely candidate for the first computer that resembles what we think of today when we say "computer" was a British behemoth called "Baby," and it's sixty years old today.

The memory gave programmers a total of 1024 bits, or 128 bytes, to play with. This had to store both the program and all of the data to be crunched. By comparison, a modern 1GB DRAM chip can store around 8 billion bits. However, the size of the memory did not prevent the Manchester University team writing relatively complex programs.

"You can write very sophisticated and interesting programs even with that limitation," said Mr Burton. "They're not efficient, but nobody was talking about efficiency it was about feasibility."

Hmm. I'm not sure, but I don't think 128 bytes would run Vista. Happy Birthday, anyway, Baby.
Tags:  mod, computer, XT, COM