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The first computers

The word 'computer' used to mean a person, not a machine. In the nineteenth century, builders and technicians needed to know the answers to very difficult calculations in order to do their work. They did not have the time to do these calculations themselves, so they bought books of answers. The people who did the calculations and wrote the books were called computers.

In the 1820s, a British mathematician called Charles Babbage invented a machine that did very difficult calculations automatically. He called his machine a Difference Engine. He began to build his machine, but he did not finish it because he had a better idea. (Babbage never finished anything - he always had a better idea and started working on something new.) In fact, more than a hundred and fifty years later, some technicians from the Science Museum in London built Babbage's Difference Engine. It is still in the museum today. The machine weighs about three tonnes, and it is nearly two metres tall and three metres wide. And it works: in the early 1990s, it did a calculation and gave the right answer - 31 digits long! Babbage did not finish making the Difference Engine because he started work on a machine called an Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine could do more: for example, it had a kind of memory. This meant that it was possible to write programs for it, building on each answer and doing more and more difficult calculations. For this reason, the Analytical Engine is often seen as the first real computer. However, Babbage never finished building this machine either!

A woman called Ada Lovelace worked with Babbage. She was the daughter of Lord Byron, a famous English writer. Ada was an excellent mathematician and understood Babbage's ideas (most people did not). She knew that she could do amazing calculations with the Analytical Machine, and she wrote a program for it. Although the machine was never built, Ada Lovelace was still the first computer programmer in the world. In 1979, a modern computer programming language was named ADA.

Babbage's ideas were ahead of their time. Slowly, over the next one hundred years, inventors began to build better calculating machines. One of the best inventors of the 1930s was a German called Konrad Zuse. In 1938, he built his first machine, the Zl, in his parents' living room in Berlin. His later machines, the Z3 and Z4, were like modern computers in many ways. They used only two digits (0 and 1) to do all the calculations. Also, Zuse wrote programs for his machines by making holes in old cinema film. When he put the film through the machines, they could 'read' the programs and do very long and difficult calculations.


Ex.1 Make up nouns meaning profession and divide them into 4 columns:

-or -er -ist -ian

to dive, to operate, , to write, to invent, to work, to teach, to build, to drive, to create; diary, politics, music, program, engine, psychology, novel, mathematics, technics


Ex. 2 Say whether the following statements are true or false, correct the false ones.


1. Ch. Babbage was a German scientist.

2. He built several calculating machines.

3. Ada Lovelace was Babbege`s daughter.

4. She wrote the first computer program for a Difference Engine.

5. C. Zuse was one of the best German inventors of the beginning if the 19th century.

6. His first machine Z1 became the first real computer.

7. Zuse invented the way to write programs; he made holes in old telegraph papers.


Ex.3 Explain the meaning of the following words:

to answer, to call, to weigh, to build; calculations, memory, amazing, language


Ex.4 Make up sentences using the table:

Computer Many people Babbage A Difference Engine It The Analytical Engine This machine Many people   not to have to build to weigh to mean to consider not to understand to have to invent by some technicians from the Science Museum in London a kind of memory to be the first real computer a Difference Engine enough time and wish to make calculations Babbage`s ideas about 3 tonnes a person who did calculations  


Ex.5 Choose the right variant of the verb:


1. Technicians ….to know the answers but ….to do calculations themselves

a) did need; didn`t b) needed; not wanted c) needed; didn`t want d) did need, not wanted

2. People doing calculations….computers.

a) called b) was called c) did called d) were called

3. Babbage …. to build a calculating machine, but ….it.

a) begined; didn`t finish b) began; didn`t finish c) did begin; not finished

d) began; didn`t finished

4. Difference Engine…. in the Science Museum in London today.

a) is b) to be c) are d) –

5. Ada Lovelace …..the daughter of Lord Byron, and an excellent mathematician.

a) did be b) was c) were d) did

6. Zuse`s programs ….from old cinema films.

a) were made b) were make c) did made d) did make


Ex.7 Guess the crossword

1. a hundred years

2. not new

3. a place where different treasures are kept and may be seen by visitors

4. human beings

5. a purpose for which something may be employed

6. long about things and….. about people

7. the meaning of the mark “A”

8. not wrong and not left




Text 4

Have you ever heard about Alan Turing? Read the text to find out about him and his work.


Date: 2015-01-12; view: 2248

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