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Who is the father of programs?

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βˆ™ 2006-10-06 00:02:48

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Like many developments, programming had many fathers ... and a mother, as well. This is just a very short summary - feel free to add, correct, and otherwise modify. The Jacquard loom from France is considered by many to be one of the first programmable devices. It used a series of large cards perforated with holes to control the patterns displayed in the fabric it wove. Since sets of cards contained instructions for consistently reproducing particular patterns, they were in a sense the first programs. Jacquard cards are the direct ancestors of the old paper punch cards that were used to develop programs until roughly the late 1970s. Patterns of holes punched into the cards represented different letters and symbols; programmers would write programs, one line per card, using large card-punch machines that created the holes as each character of the program was typed. Once the program was complete, its stack of cards was read mechanically and translated into machine language. Beginning in the 1830s, Englishman Charles Babbage was the first person to develop the principles of the computer as we know them today. These including the idea of storing data and logic, a processor, and stages for input and output. His machine (called an "Analytical Engine") was entirely mechanical, and never functioned correctly because it needed extremely hard metals and precision machining techniques that did not exist at the time. However, his approach was sound: in the 1980s a portion of his machinery was reconstructed using modern techniques and successfully carried out various tasks. The first programmer in the modern sense was Lord Byron's daughter Ada, later Countess of Lovelace. She was a talented mathematician and teamed with Babbage to develop some of the algorithms that were to be used by his Analytical Engine. Her proposal for calculating Bernoulli numbers is frequently cited as the first computer program in a modern sense, because it dealt with conceptual instructions rather than purely mechanical processes. She was stunningly prescient, at one point forecasting that descendants of Babbage's machine could be used to produce music and graphics as well as performing calculational mathematics.

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