MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Computer History Museum has opened a spectacular exhibit that traces the birth of the computer. Several industry pioneers showed up for the launch on Tuesday.
This is a replica of the Hollerith Electric Tabulating System that was used to process punch cards in the 1890 census. In all, 60 million cards were processed with these machines.
From the museum's info card: "For memory, the UNIVAC used seven mercury delay tanks. Eighteen pairs of crystal transducers in each tank transmitted and received data as waves in mercury held at a constant of 149 degree Fahrenheit."
The drab-looking box played a crucial role in the creation of the Internet. Called an Interface Message Processor (1969), it was the interface between the ARPANET, the Internet's predecessor, and a computer connected to the network.
Fran Allen is considered a pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers and has developed several programming languages. She also developed an advanced code-breaking language known as Alpha while working with IBM in the 1960s.
Max Mathews programmed the first computer-generated sounds in the 1950s while working at Bell Labs. A believer that any sound a human can hear can be generated by a computer, his pioneering work paved the way for musicians to synthesize, record, and play music on computers.