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Personal Computer History

1804 Jacquard loom by Joseph Marie Jacquard is the first to use punched cards to direct the machine. First "programming" job created.

1840's Chuck Babbage conceives of the "Analytical Engine", to be programmed by punch card, and "Touring Complete" for the printing of mathematical tables. Ada Lovelace documents it, publishes the first computer program, and hacks the machine to show it could generate music and do other more interesting things.

1922 Kathleen Booth writes the first assembly language, to change human readable instructions into the numbers machines can execute.

1954 John Backus leads a team at IBM to develop the first commercially available high level language, FORTRAN: FORmula TRANslation. As the name implies, it focused on math. At that time it was an "interpreted" language, meaning that each command had machine code associated which was run when that command was recognized. It was later converted to a compiler where the high level language is all converted to low level machine code before running

1950's "Amazing" Grace_Hopper writes the first linker (enabling programs to be written in sections) and gives us the first general purpose computer language, COBOL: COmmon Business Oriented Language and the first compiler. She is also known for having coined the terms "bug" and "debugging" after finding a literal bug (a moth) in an early electro-mechanical computer.

1958 John McCarthy invents LISP: ( LISt Processor, ( which heavily influenced languages ( including the underlying engine of Javascript ) ) ).

1960's Margaret Hamilton (age 33) leads the software team for the Apollo II (first landing on the moon) and saves that landing by insisting on the inclusion of a process monitor to catch overloads.1 2 She is the first to advocate for software development to be considered a profession.

1970's Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web. Four women solved the problems required to make it actually work.

1970's "SmallTalk" a message based, object oriented programming language is developed at Xerox PARC by Alan Kay, Dan Ingalls, Adele Goldberg, Ted Kaehler, Scott Wallace, and others.

1972-73 The C Programming Language is developed by Dennis Ritchie, and documented by Brian Kernighan along with Ritchie in 1978. The C language is used to write most computer languages, as it has been implemented for most systems and results in fast, efficient, code, given a bit more work on the part of the programmer that higher level languages.

1995 "Javascript" (which is not Java) is added to Netscape Navigator (which later grows to become FireFox). It is based on Scheme (based on LISP), Self (based on SmallTalk), and only looks like Java. Sort of. Originally interpreted, it is now JIT (Just In Time) compiled.

Note: You may have noticed a surprising number of women making significant advances, especially in the very early days of programming: First program, first assembly language, first compiled language, saving the Apollo landing, fixing the net, etc... If you are surprised, it is because women are very much ignored and written out of history. We throw away half our brain power by doing that. Read about Women in Computing and support girls / women in tech jobs if you want our country to excel.

Did you know? Hedy Lamarr co-invented spread spectrum modulation during WWII. ...and yes, that is the absolute truth. She had no great technical ability, but when the problem of radar and radio jamming was explained to her, she suggested changeing the frequency according to a preset pattern (like a song) to keep the Germans guessing. Her fresh point of view made the difference.


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