Human Computers

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Before the 1950s, “computers” were human, they were not machines. The first human computers appeared in the mid-1700s when people wanted to solve big, complex problems by approximation and repetitive solutions, such as determine when Halley’s Comet would return. Scientists realized that they could break complicated calculations apart so that a team could work on them. Human computers also adopted Industrial Revolution methods such as specialization, division of labor, and mass production. The field reached its peak during WWII. As electronic computers took over calculation-intensive work, some human computers became programming pioneers.

Answer questions on Human computers 

  • Why are mathematical computations important to human progress? Give examples throughout history and imagine technologies that can benefit from mathematical computations in the future.
  • What was the meaning of the word “computer” in the past and how is it different from the current definition?
  • How did new manufacturing strategies in the Industrial Revolution transform human computing? 
  • What effect did mainframe computers have on human computing? 

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