Only once in a lifetime will a new invention come about to touch every aspect ofour lives. Such devices changed the way we manage, work, and live. A machinethat has done all this and more now exists in nearly every business in theUnited States.

This incredible invention is the computer. The electroniccomputer has been around for over a half-century, but its ancestors have beenaround for 2000 years. However, only in the last 40 years has the computerchanged American management to it's greatest extent. From the first woodenabacus to the latest high-speed microprocessor, the computer has changed nearlyevery aspect of management, and our lives for the better. The very earliestexistence of the modern day computer's ancestor is the abacus.

These date backto almost 2000 years ago (Dolotta, 1985). It is simply a wooden rack holdingparallel wires on which beads are strung. When these beads are moved along thewire according to programming rules that the user must memorize. All ordinaryarithmetic operations can be performed on the abacus. This was one of the firstmanagement tools used. The next innovation in computers took place in 1694 whenBlaise Pascal invented the first digital calculating machine.

It could only addnumbers and they had to be entered by turning dials. It was designed to helpPascal's father, who was a tax collector, manage the town's taxes (Beer, 1966).In the early 1800s, a mathematics professor named Charles Babbage designed anautomatic calculation machine (Dolotta, 1985). It was steam powered and couldstore up to 1000 50-digit numbers.

Built in to his machine were operations thatincluded everything a modern general-purpose computer would need. It wasprogrammed by and stored data on cards with holes punched in them, appropriatelycalled punch cards. This machine was extremely useful to managers that delt withlarge volumes of good. With Babbage's machine, managers could more easilycalculate the large numbers accumulated by inventories. The only problem wasthat there was only one of these machines built, thus making it difficult forall managers to use (Beer, 1966).

After Babbage, people began to lose interestin computers. However, between 1850 and 1900 there were great advances inmathematics and physics that began to rekindle the interest. Many of these newadvances involved complex calculations and formulas that were very timeconsuming for human calculation. The first major use for a computer in the U.S.was during the 1890 census.

Two men, Herman Hollerith and James Powers,developed a new punched-card system that could automatically read information oncards without human (Dolotta, 1985). Since the population of the U.S. wasincreasing so fast, the computer was an essential tool for managers intabulating the totals (Hazewindus,1988). These advantages were noted bycommercial industries and soon led to the development of improved punch-cardbusiness-machine systems by International Business Machines, Remington-Rand,Burroughs, and other corporations (Chposky, 1988). By modern standards thepunched-card machines were slow, typically processing from 50 to 250 cards perminute, with each card holding up to 80 digits.

At the time, however, punchedcards were an enormous step forward; they provided a means of input, output, andmemory storage on a massive scale. For more than 50 years following their firstuse, punched-card machines did the bulk of the world's business computing(Jacobs, 1975). By the late 1930s punched-card machine techniques had become sowell established and reliable that Howard Hathaway Aiken, in collaboration withengineers at IBM, undertook construction of a large automatic digital computerbased on standard IBM electromechanical parts (Chposky, 1988). Aiken's machine,called the Harvard Mark I, handled 23-digit numbers and could perform all fourarithmetic operations (Dolotta, 1985). Also, it had special built-in programs tohandled logarithms and trigonometric functions.

The Mark I was controlled fromprepunched paper tape. Output was by card punch and electric typewriter. It wasslow, requiring 3 to 5 seconds for a multiplication, but it was fully automaticand could complete long computations without human intervention. The outbreak ofWorld War II produced a desperate need for computing capability, especially forthe military (Dolotta, 1985). New weapons systems were produced which neededtrajectory tables and other essential data.

In 1942, John P. Eckert, John W.Mauchley, and their associates at the University of Pennsylvania decided tobuild a high-speed electronic computer to do the job. This machine became knownas ENIAC, for Electrical Numerical Integrator And Calculator (Chposky, 1988). Itcould multiply two numbers at the rate of 300 products per second, by findingthe value of each product from a multiplication table stored in its memory.ENIAC was thus about 1,000 times faster than the previous generation ofcomputers.

ENIAC used 18,000 standard vacuum tubes, occupied 1800 square feet offloor space, and used about 180,000 watts of electricity. It used punched-cardinput and output. The ENIAC was very difficult to program because one had toessentially re-wire it to perform whatever task he wanted the computer to do. Itwas efficient in handling the particular programs for which it had beendesigned.

ENIAC is generally accepted as the first successful high-speedelectronic digital computer and was used in many applications from 1946 to 1955.However, the ENIAC was not accessible to managers of businesses (Beer, 1966).Mathematician John Von Neumann was very interested in the ENIAC. In 1945 heundertook a theoretical study of computation that demonstrated that a computercould have a very simple and yet be able to execute any kind of computationeffectively by means of proper programmed control without the need for anychanges in hardware. Von Neumann came up with incredible ideas for methods ofbuilding and organizing practical, fast computers. These ideas, which came to bereferred to as the stored-program technique, became fundamental for futuregenerations of high-speed digital computers and were universally adopted (Dolotta,1985).

The first wave of modern programmed electronic computers to takeadvantage of these improvements appeared in 1947. This group included computersusing random access memory, RAM, which is a memory designed to give almostconstant access to any particular piece of information (Dolotta, 1985). Thesemachines had punched-card or punched-tape input and output devices and RAMs of1000-word capacity. Physically, they were much more compact than ENIAC: somewere about the size of a grand piano and required 2500 small electron tubes.This was quite an improvement over the earlier machines. The first-generationstored-program computers required considerable maintenance, usually attained 70%to 80% reliable operation, and were used for 8 to 12 years (Hazewindus,1988).

Typically, they were programmed directly in machine language, although by themid-1950s progress had been made in several aspects of advanced programming.This group of machines included EDVAC and UNIVAC, the first commerciallyavailable computers. With this invention, managers had even more power toperform calculations for such things as statistical demographic data (Beer,1966). Before this time, it was very rare for a manager of a larger business tohave the means to process large numbers in so little time.

The UNIVAC wasdeveloped by John W. Mauchley and John Eckert, Jr. in the 1950s. Together theyhad formed the Mauchley-Eckert Computer Corporation, America's first computercompany in the 1940s. During the development of the UNIVAC, they began to runshort on funds and sold their company to the larger Remington-Rand Corporation.

Eventually they built a working UNIVAC computer. It was delivered to the U.S.Census Bureau in 1951 where it was used to help tabulate the U.S. population(Hazewindus,1988).

Early in the 1950s two important engineering discoverieschanged the electronic computer field. The first computers were made with vacuumtubes, but by the late 1950s computers were being made out of transistors, whichwere smaller, less expensive, more reliable, and more efficient (Dolotta, 1985).In 1959, Robert Noyce, a physicist at the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation,invented the integrated circuit, a tiny chip of silicon that contained an entireelectronic circuit. Gone was the bulky, unreliable, but fast machine; nowcomputers began to become more compact, more reliable and have more capacity.

These new technical discoveries rapidly found their way into new models ofdigital computers. Memory storage capacities increased 800% in commerciallyavailable machines by the early 1960s and speeds increased by an equally largemargin (Jacobs, 1975). These machines were very expensive to purchase or to rentand were especially expensive to operate because of the cost of hiringprogrammers to perform the complex operations the computers ran. Such computerswere typically found in large computer centers operated by industry, government,and private laboratories staffed with many programmers and support personnel. By1956, 76 of IBM's large computer mainframes were in use, compared with only 46UNIVAC's (Chposky, 1988).

In the 1960s efforts to design and develop the fastestpossible computers with the greatest capacity reached a turning point with thecompletion of the LARC machine for Livermore Radiation Laboratories by theSperry-Rand Corporation, and the Stretch computer by IBM. The LARC had a corememory of 98,000 words and multiplied in 10 microseconds. Stretch was providedwith several ranks of memory having slower access for the ranks of greatercapacity, the fastest access time being less than 1 microseconds and the totalcapacity in the vicinity of 100 million words. During this time the majorcomputer manufacturers began to offer a range of computer capabilities, as wellas various computer-related equipment (Jacobs, 1975).

These included input meanssuch as consoles and card feeders; output means such as page printers,cathode-ray-tube displays, and graphing devices; and optional magnetic-tape andmagnetic-disk file storage. These found wide use in management for suchapplications as accounting, payroll, inventory control, ordering supplies, andbilling. Central processing units for such purposes did not need to be very fastarithmetically and were primarily used to access large amounts of records onfile. The greatest number of computer systems were delivered for the largerapplications, such as in hospitals for keeping track of patient records,medications, and treatments given. They were also used in automated librarysystems and in database systems such as the Chemical Abstracts system, wherecomputer records now on file cover nearly all known chemical compounds (Dolotta,1985).

The trend during the 1970s was, to some extent, away from extremelypowerful, centralized computational centers and toward a broader range ofapplications for less-costly computer systems (Jacobs, 1975). Mostcontinuous-process manufacturing, such as petroleum refining andelectrical-power distribution systems, began using computers of relativelymodest capability for controlling and regulating their activities. In the 1960sthe programming of applications problems was an obstacle to the self-sufficiencyof moderate-sized on-site computer installations, but great advances inapplications programming languages removed these obstacles. Applicationslanguages became available for controlling a great range of manufacturingprocesses, for computer operation of machine tools, and for many other tasks. In1971 Marcian E.

Hoff, Jr., an engineer at the Intel Corporation, invented themicroprocessor and another stage in the development of the computer began (Chposky,1988). A new revolution in computer hardware was now well under way, involvingminiaturization of computer-logic circuitry and of component manufacture by whatare called large-scale integration techniques. In the 1950s it was realized thatscaling down the size of electronic digital computer circuits and parts wouldincrease speed and efficiency and improve performance (Jacobs, 1975). However,at that time the manufacturing methods were not good enough to accomplish such atask.

About 1960, photoprinting of conductive circuit boards to eliminate wiringbecame highly developed. Then it became possible to build resistors andcapacitors into the circuitry by photographic means. In the 1970s entireassemblies, such as adders, shifting registers, and counters, became availableon tiny chips of silicon. In the 1980s very large scale integration, VLSI, inwhich hundreds of thousands of transistors are placed on a single chip, becameincreasingly common (Dolotta, 1985).

Many companies, some new to the computerfield, introduced in the 1970s programmable minicomputers supplied with softwarepackages (Jacobs, 1975). The size-reduction trend continued with theintroduction of personal computers, which are programmable machines small enoughand inexpensive enough to be purchased and used by individuals (Beer, 1966). Oneof the first of such machines was introduced in January 1975. PopularElectronics magazine provided plans that would allow any electronics wizard tobuild his own small, programmable computer for about $380. The computer wascalled the Altair 8800. Its programming involved pushing buttons and flippingswitches on the front of the box.

It didn't include a monitor or keyboard, andits applications were very limited. Even though, many orders came in for it andseveral famous owners of computer and software manufacturing companies got theirstart in computing through the Altair (Jacobs, 1975). For example, Steve Jobsand Steve Wozniak, founders of Apple Computer, built a much cheaper, yet moreproductive version of the Altair and turned their hobby into a business. Afterthe introduction of the Altair 8800, the personal computer industry became afierce battleground of competition. IBM had been the computer industry standardfor well over a half-century. They held their position as the standard when theyintroduced their first personal computer, the IBM Model 60 in 1975 (Chposky,1988).

However, the newly formed Apple Computer company was releasing its ownpersonal computer, the Apple II. The Apple I was the first computer designed byJobs and Wozniak in Wozniak's garage, which was not produced on a wide scale.Software was needed to run the computers as well. Microsoft developed a DiskOperating System, MS-DOS, for the IBM computer while Apple developed its ownsoftware (Chposky, 1988).

Because Microsoft had now set the software standardfor IBMs, every software manufacturer had to make their software compatible withMicrosoft's. This would lead to huge profits for Microsoft. The main goal of thecomputer manufacturers was to make the computer as affordable as possible whileincreasing speed, reliability, and capacity. Nearly every computer manufactureraccomplished this and computers popped up everywhere.

Computers were inbusinesses keeping track of even more inventories for managers. Computers werein colleges aiding students in research. Computers were in laboratories makingcomplex calculations at high speeds for scientists and physicists. The computerhad made its mark everywhere in management and built up a huge industry (Beer,1966).

The future is promising for the computer industry and its technology. Thespeed of processors is expected to double every year and a half in the comingyears (Jacobs, 1975). As manufacturing techniques are further perfected theprices of computer systems are expected to steadily fall. However, since themicroprocessor technology will be increasing, it's higher costs will offset thedrop in price of older processors. In other words, the price of a new computerwill stay about the same from year to year, but technology will steadilyincrease.

Since the end of World War II, the computer industry has grown from astanding start into one of the biggest and most profitable industries in theUnited States (Hazewindus,1988). It now comprises thousands of companies, makingeverything from multi-million dollar high-speed supercomputers to printout paperand floppy disks. It employs millions of people and generates tens of billionsof dollars in sales each year. Surely, the computer has impacted every aspect ofpeople's lives (Jacobs, 1975). It has affected the way people work and play.

Ithas made everyone's life easier by doing difficult work for people. The computertruly is one of the most incredible inventions in history to ever influencemanagement, and life.BibliographyBeer, S. (1966). Decision and Control, The meaning of Operational Researchand Management Cybernetics Chposky, J. (1988) Blue Magic, New York: Facts onFile, San Jose, CA: Idthekkethan Publishing Company Dolotta, T.

(1985). DataProcessing: 1940-1985, New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons Hazewindus, N.(1988). The U.S.

Microelectronics Industry, New York, NY: Pergaman Press Jacobs,C. W. (1975, January). The Altair 8800, Popular Electronics, New York, NY:Popular Electronics Publishing