Digital Computer Evolution – WW2 to Now

Christopher Whitfield

Digital computer technology has evolved rapidly from its WW2 origins into perhaps one of the most pervasive technologies influencing our lives today. 

This course covers that evolution with only as much (broad brush!) technical content as is required to understand the interaction between hardware and software innovation.

Around one-third of the time will be given to considering the realities for us, the humans, of computer bugs, surveillance, social media, encryption, “big data” et al.

It is aimed at those interested in things technical or mechanical and hopefully to stimulate lots of questions and discussion.   It is NOT a Windows/Word/Excel/HTML user course.

This course will cover the following, approximately one third of the time on each.

  1. Introduction & history.
    1. Computers – where we’re at,  how we got here, where it all started
    2. From  analogue to digital, from mechanical to electronic
    3. Timeline – significant events
  2. How it works.
    1. Hardware
    2. Application software
    3. System software
    4. Summary – how it all fits together
  3. Thoughts for the future – consequences for us
    1. Coding errors and testing
    2. Pervasiveness of communications
  1. Social Media
  2. Surveillance – government and commercial
  • “Big Data”
    1. Encryption and “back doors”
    2. Jobs – impact of word processor
    3. Can a computer be intelligent?

$2 charge per session to cover venue costs