History, Failures And Future Of Computers

Within history you will find the contributions of the computer and how it has made a useful impact on society, and like everything in life you will find the failures of the computer throughout its existence. The impact computers have had on technology, research, society, and life overall is very significant. Although, the process for the computer to become what it is today was long.

A major contributor in helping to develop the computer is Charles Babbage, as mentioned in the introduction. He is known and offered referred to as a “The Father of Computing” because of all the impacts on the computer he made. Contributions from the development of the computer include a single place to store information. Making it easier for companies to not lose information, keep information or data organized, and to have everything in one location as stated. Computers included calculators, writing tools, virtual imaging, and various programs. All of these things were beneficial for many different reasons. Although, computers originally were meant for commercial use, they were later created for personal use. Contributing to the daily person’s life. It was also nice to have this into a compact size as time progressed and technology furthered. However, with great technology come great failures. Computers continue to contribute to life and make impacts. Whether you are googling, using your phone (which is a computer), or using it for mathematical purposes to help with difficult equations.

One failure is the Fifth Generation computer, by trying to not use software technology and use hardware. The computer was not going the way technology was. During the creation of this computer the internet was being developed and GUIs were favored. It was a 400-million-dollar project that was ended without even being completely finished to its purpose. NASA had a known failure that cost them 19-million dollars in the 1960s, when a programmer translated hand written code over wrong onto the computer. Due to not having advances yet and never having this issue to learn from, the velocity was interpreted wrong and the spacecraft never made it to its destination. It went a different route and wasn’t able to answer commands. They were able to learn from the mistakes and fix this error for the future.

Another failure during the development of the computer is the failure of a program, costing 500-billion dollars in one day. This is referred to as “Black Monday. ” This occurred on October 19, 1987. Stock markets globally crashed, causing a speedy transmission in stocks investors. This caused the programs to become overwhelmed and crash. This shows how glitches in a computer can cause major failures resulting in negative outcomes. Since, you can see how this issue and technology has become better. You can also see how the impact of the computer is so large.

Another failure that also cost 500-billion dollars includes the “Millennium Bug. ” The programs created in the beginning of the computer development read years as a 2-digit number (Ex: 99) compared to a 4-digit number (Ex. 1999), so when 2000 came around there was an expensive issue when the year 2000 was not understood and read as 1900. However, even though the computers development and all the failures seen with the programming hiccups or hardware issues. In 2009, Toyota had software issues. They had recalls due to this software, making the acceleration increase and not stop. 9-million vehicles or more were recalled during the failure. This shows that we are continuously improving in technology to better from our failures and make the impact of the computer even greater.

Historical Events

The computer has had major impacts on society as a whole, good and bad. The failures in historical events have affected the way things are done on the computer and with technology today. Although, it would be easier to learn without having to make failures, it prevents the same situations from happening again in the future. Since software is not flawless, and may never be, we will have failures appear that we will have to understand. There have always been hiccups and will probably continue to have hiccups. We discussed failures during the development of the computer, two historical events that have occurred in computer and mathematical history are The Patriot Missile Failure and The Ariane 5.

The Patriot Missile Failure occurred February 25th, 1991. What happened was the American Patriot Missile Battery failed to locate and interrupt an Iraqi Scud missile. Therefore, the Iraqi missile struck and killed 28 soldiers and injured hundreds at the American Barracks. The failure was due to a miscalculation of time. This was because of arithmetic errors within the computer. Basically, the time was being multiplied by the wrong value, producing the wrong time in seconds. It was a non-terminating binary expression cut at 24-bits. This was done using a fixed point register at 24-bits. The mistake was about 0. 34 seconds. If the scope of 137 meters then it would have been targeted, since it was outside of the scope of 137 meters it was not hit. Therefore, missing by 0. 34 seconds. This took place on June 4th, 1996.

The Ariane 5 launched and 40 seconds after take-off it exploded. It cost 7-billion dollars to design and build and a decade to have launch, for it to blow up 40 seconds into launch. After weeks of investigation, it was reported that the cause of the failure was a software error within the inertial reference system. There was a floating number of the 64-bit correlating to the horizontal velocity, with a point to platform converting it to a 16-bit. The number as greater than the value a 16-bit could hold, causing it to fail and the explosion to happen, due to conversion failure. It was working in the beginning but as the speed became greater the 16-bit couldn’t handle it and the explosion happened

Quantum Computers

Quantum computers are different compared to traditional computers. While they have similarities they are going to change the future and the way mathematical systems and other situations are calculated or analyzed. These computers could help answer complex processes unlike a traditional computer. Traditional computers do not have the small particles quantum computers have allowing for quick operations that use little energy. Traditional computers use -1 and 0 for information, quantum computers use quantum bits. Traditional computers practice in two states. Quantum use imaginary states. The bits the quantum computers store can be wherever within the computer. This allows for more information to be kept and little energy used as stated. As technology advances we become closer and closer to inventing a quantum computer.

A quantum computer would change technology as we now know it. In order to be able to do this we have to be able to put more quantum bits into a computer or chip. Making it the quantum computer. The computer will also require different algorithms, programs, processors, and interconnects to function. Basically it will require an entirely new software and system compared to a traditional computer. However, they do both use algorithms, programs, and have other similarities just to a different extent. Being able to help scientists create new materials, create flawless security, calculate how climate will change in the future. With this computer the world would be able to answer so many difficult questions unanswered right now. It would help fields beyond the mathematical, physics, and science fields. With the idea of the quantum computer also comes the idea of quantum networking, which can create the start of quantum internet.


Obviously as a society we have become very dependent on the computers as stated and as you can see. As technology grows we become a world more and more dependent. For research, work, school, and life stumping questions. The computers have a come a long way from just being made out of wood and meant for commercial use, to now being in almost everyone’s homes for personal use. The history of the computer development and the impact of the computer along the way is a long and detailed history. With many complex failures, and many complex solutions to situations. The computer has brought good and bad events, more good. We can see the significant contributions on history, and how as a society we continue to learn from our failures. From the First Generation computers to the Fifth Generation computers and on, we continue to learn. As you can see, mathematical systems played a large role in the computer development process. Whether it involved numerical methods, other systems of equations, binary code, Boolean algebra. Binary code is used to help hold the value of bits. Linear Algebra and vectors were also useful in the process of developing the computer and their impact. Computers continue to come a long way from what Babbage once created.

15 Jun 2020
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