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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

History of Vintage Computing Blaise Pascal

In 1642 Blaise Pascal ( 1623-1662) invented the pascaline , an automatic desk-top computer like machine that could add and subtract. Made of brass and about the size of a cigar box, Pascal's computer consisted of a set of toothed wheels or gears. Each wheel had the numbers zero (0) to nine (9) engraved on it , one number for each tooth of the wheel . The user could add or subtract by rurning the wheels. When one wheel made a complete revolution , it caused the wheel to the left of it to make one tenth of a revolution. In this way the machine kept a total of the numbers counted , which were displayed through a "glass window" at the top of the box.

Although Pascal's automatic counting machine was a remarkable achievment
it had a few drawbacks. It could only add or subtract , it could not multiply and divide . The results were not always accurate because the gears often got stuck between two digit positions. Hence in the world of commerce this was more than a complete failure.

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