History Of The Computer The Emergence Of Electronics

History Of the​ Computer; the​ Emergence Of Electronics.
The history of​ the​ computer inevitably includes the​ development of​ electronics,​ we​ look at​ the​ explosive (!) growth of​ electronics in​ the​ late 1930s and early 1940s.
If anything could be said in​ favor of​ war,​ it​ may be that it​ speeds up the​ development of​ technology .​
Of course much of​ that technology is​ employed in​ killing people and destroying infrastructure,​ but there are also things which could be considered beneficial.
Electronics was around in​ the​ early part of​ the​ 20th Century,​ wireless,​ or​ radio,​ was in​ its infancy at​ the​ time of​ the​ first world war .​
Radio broadcasting came into prominence in​ the​ '20s and 30's,​ Television started in​ the​ '30's.
The second world war,​ from 1939 in​ Europe,​ and a​ couple of​ years later involving the​ USA,​ ended in​ 1945 .​
Radar (Radio Aid To Detection And Ranging) was developed from early experiments,​ just prior to​ the​ war,​ in​ Britain and Germany .​
There was rapid development in​ the​ field,​ and,​ by the​ end of​ the​ war,​ Radar was being used in​ several fields.
Aircraft Navigation - Using ground transmitters in​ sets of​ 3,​ widely spaced,​ to​ give an​ aircraft using a​ receiver a​ method of​ pinpointing its position .​
This is​ a​ similar system to​ that used in​ gps today,​ substituting satellites for the​ ground stations.
Targeting - a​ beam was transmitted from a​ Radar station in​ England so that it​ intercepted a​ target in​ Germany .​
An aircraft could fly along the​ beam,​ guided by signals,​ dots or​ dashes,​ if​ it​ strayed off the​ beam,​ left or​ right .​
Known as​ flying on​ the​ beam.
Interception - a​ series of​ ground stations around the​ South-East coast of​ England,​ feeding into a​ central control room,​ where their tracks could be displayed,​ significantly assisted in​ the​ Battle of​ Britain (1940).
Airborne Interception (AI) - Developed towards the​ end of​ the​ war,​ used a​ Tranceiver (transmitter/receiver) in​ a​ night fighter to​ find a​ target in​ the​ dark,​ or​ bad weather,​ and track it​ to​ within firing range.
Beacon - a​ tranceiver was located at​ the​ end of​ a​ runway so that ground staff could guide a​ returning aircraft to​ land in​ bad weather,​ this became more and more sophisticated,​ developing into GCA or​ Ground Controlled Approach.
Shipping - radar equipped vessels could track other vessels in​ darkness or​ fog,​ whether peacefully or​ aggressively.
Many other sytems were developed or​ initiated in​ that 6 year period .​
Knowledge of​ electronics,​ and what it​ could be used for vastly increased .​
In parallel with the​ development of​ radar,​ other fields of​ electronics were also advancing,​ under pressure from the​ requirement to​ improve the​ technology.
Long range guns on​ ships or​ in​ the​ field needed to​ be aimed accurately .​
The calculations required in​ ballistics to​ aim a​ gu​n so that you can hit the​ target,​ or​ aim a​ V2 rocket so that it​ hits London from continental Europe,​ are phenomenal.
This,​ then was the​ scene at​ the​ end of​ the​ war .​
We knew how to​ tackle large calculations with speed,​ and we​ had developed a​ new concept in​ electronics,​ Pulse Technology .​
This is​ so called because radar uses short pulses of​ high energy,​ for two main reasons.
1 .​
The pulses can be coded .​
For example,​ in​ the​ Navigation example we​ looked at,​ 3 ground stations transmit a​ signal whose source needs to​ be identified .​
One transmitter could transmit a​ series of​ single pulses spaced say 10 milliseconds .​
a​ second could transmit a​ pair of​ pulses at​ 10 millisecond spacing,​ and the​ third 3 pulses .​
a​ chart would tell the​ navigator where the​ pulse sets were transmitted from,​ and the​ distances obtained from the​ radar set used to​ locate the​ position on​ the​ chart.
2 .​
The power,​ or​ strength,​ of​ the​ signal .​
a​ continuous radio signal,​ like a​ radio broadcast,​ takes a​ given amount of​ power .​
However,​ a​ 1 millisecond pulse every 10 milliseconds,​ uses only one tenth of​ the​ power,​ on​ average .​
So a​ radar transmitter can have a​ much greater range for the​ same power .​
This is​ is​ especially important in​ a​ primary (transmit and receive) radar system,​ where we​ must detect the​ reflection of​ the​ signal we​ transmit .​
Likewise a​ secondary (receive) radar system,​ for example the​ navigation system above,​ will have a​ bigger range.
Next we​ will look at​ how early computers were now possible due to​ these developments.

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