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Did you know that the world’s fastest supercomputer has over 400 trillion transistors? That’s 4,000 billions in case you’re trying to visualize it.
That’s just one of the many, many fascinating facts about computers.
Computers have changed so much in the last 50 years they’re practically unrecognizable from their original incarnation. They’re practically unrecognizable from 20 years ago, even.
Technology’s speeding up and doesn’t show any sign of slowing. Considering how important they are to our daily lives, in every conceivable way, it’s important to understand where they come from to help imagine where they’re going. It’s also important to understand how computers work, considering how much of a part of our daily lives they play.
Let’s learn some interesting facts about computers, shall we?
1. ENIAC Was Heavy
The first computers were roughly the size of a city block. They were powered with over 18,000 vacuum tubes. It was made up of 70,000 resistors, 10,000, capacitors, 1,500 relays, 6,000 manual switches, and 5 million soldered joints.
The first computer was built to perform complex ballistics calculations during World War 2. The initial proposition was made in 1942. The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, or ENIAC, was constructed between 1943 and 1945.
By the time it was finished, ENIAC weighed a monolithic 27 tons. By the time it was retired in 1955, due to a lightning strike, it had probably completed more calculations than all of the humans in history.
In celebration of ENIAC’s 50th anniversary, two University of Pennsylvania undergraduates recreated the computer. It could fit in the palm of your hand.
2. The First Mouse Was Made Of Wood
The first mouse was unveiled in 1968 by an introverted computer engineer named Doug Engelbart. Engelbart didn’t just create the mouse; he essentially predicted the way we use personal computers in our daily lives, down to the shopping apps.
In 1968, information was still input into large computers using punch cards. Doug Engelbart had a vision of computers’ ultimate potential. He dreamed up an especially epic presentation to showcase these possibilities.
When Engelbart took the stage, he did so with only a microphone and a headset, similar to today’s tech presentations. Seeing as how these were the days before wireless technology, Engelbart ran over 30 miles of cable to his headquarters.
To share what he was working on with the audience, he borrowed a projector from NASA to project an 18 x 22 image onto a screen behind him. On this screen, he could type letters and numbers using the QWERTY keyboard we know today. He could move a tracker around the screen using the world’s first mouse, which was actually made of wood.
3. Nearly 1 Million Malware Attacks Are Released Every Day
Cybersecurity has been increasingly in the news in recent years. It stands to reason, as more and more of our lives are conducted online.
It’s a little shocking when you realize how prevalent it is, though.
In fact, there are over 1 million malware attacks that happen each and every day. There were over 317 million new pieces of malware released in 2014 alone. 5 out of 6 large companies were attacked by hackers and cyber-criminals during that year.
4. Bill Gates Worked With Apple
Bill Gates would go on to become one of the richest men in the world. It’s a little known fact about computers that Gates actually started out working with another of Silicon Valley’s richest tech moguls, Steve Jobs.
Bill Gates was working with Apple, Inc. when Jobs was developing the idea of the Graphical User Interface. He ended up beating Jobs to the punch and patenting the newly-rebranded GUI. This would lead to a bitter rivalry between Gates and Jobs that would last throughout their careers.
If you’re an Apple lover and are having trouble with your GUI, you can read about what happens when your MacBook keyboard stopped working.
5. The First 1GB Hard Drive Cost $40,000
Most smartphones these days have somewhere between 32 and 128 GB of hard drive space. It’s wild to think we have the capacity to hold 21,845 songs. All for less than a VCR cost in the early ’80s.
The first 1 Gigabyte hard drive was first made available in 1980. Information was still disseminated on 5.25″ floppy disks at that point. A 1 GB hard drive would store 100 floppy disks. It would hold up to 2000 Atari 2600 games.
6. 144,000 Web Domains Are Registered Every Day
To say that the internet has blown up in the last 20 years would be the understatement of the millennium. There are currently nearly 2 billion websites online, with more being added every second.
It’s hard to say how many of them are Star Wars fan sites and reaction videos. It’s going to take a lot of surfing to find out!
7. Hewlett-Packard Was Started In A Garage
Hewlett-Packard is currently valued at around $3.15 billion. They’re a veritable empire of computers and related products.
Great things can come from humble origins, however.
HP was actually formed in a garage. In 1938, David and Lucile Packard rented a house in Palo Alto, California. The garage beyond the house would become the first home of Hewlett-Packard.
The garage would be named a historical landmark, dubbed “the birthplace of Silicon Valley.”
Computers are fascinating boxes. What they can do is even more fascinating. Let these interesting computer facts act as your gateway into the fascinating world of tech.
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