Interesting facts about computers

Interesting facts about computers


One of the first modern examples of a computer was used in 1938 when the United States Navy developed an electromechanical analog computer called the “Torpedo Data Computer”. This machine was small enough to fit on a submarine and helped the Navy with guiding its torpedoes to their destination.

The world’s first programmable, electronic, digital computer was developed by a British man named Tommy Flowers and his team. First seen working in 1943, this machine was called the “Colossus” and was used in the Second World War to decipher complex messages used in Nazi communications. Ten of these machines were being used by the end of the war but unfortunately all were destroyed to maintain secrecy of the project. After the war, Tommy Flowers went to the Bank of England to ask for a loan to build a similar machine to the Colossus; it was denied as the bank did not believe the machine could work.

The first desktop personal computer, called the Programma 101, was developed by Pier Giorgio Perotto and his team of only four people for the Italian manufacturer “Olivetti”. It was launched at the 1964 New York World’s Fair with a price of $3,200, in modern day terms that would be around $20,000; 44,000 units were sold. NASA used some of these machines the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.

The highest selling computer of all time is the Commodore 64 with most sources saying that around 17 million were sold. At the height of its power more than 400,000 Commodore 64s were being built every month for a couple of years, according to Commodore’s former president. The machine was popular due to its relatively low price and performance which was easily superior to competitors at the time. The “64” in the name is in reference to the 64kb of RAM that is used in the machine.

Apple computers was founded in 1976 by three people: Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs and Ronald Gerald Wayne. Wayne, who drew the first Apple logo, sold his 10% stake in the company for just $800 which today would be worth approximately $60 billion dollars; Wayne says he does not regret the decision. To raise the necessary funds to start the company, Steve Jobs sold his Volkswagen van and Steve Wozniak sold his Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator.

The name “Microsoft” is a combination of the words “microcomputer” and “software” and was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. The company has around 35 cafeterias which serves approximately 37,000 people each day, the most popular item being pizza. Microsoft owns 10,000 patents and files around 3,000 every year making it one of the top 5 patent owners in the USA. Microsoft are known for asking difficult interview questions, one of the most common examples is “Why is a manhole cover round?”

In May 2011, Google received over one billion visitors with users in total spending 200 billion minutes. The most searched terms in Google are “Facebook”, “Youtube” and then “sex/video”. The company is known for treating its employees well and offer them gourmet food three times a day. Unfortunately, this has caused a risk of all the employees gaining considerable weight but Google uses some subtle psychological techniques in order to dissuade people from choosing unhealthy options.

Questions and Answers

What was the first electromechanical analog computer used for? (Guiding torpedoes)

Who invented the first digital computer? (Tommy Flowers)

What was the first digital computer used for? (Deciphering Nazi communications)

How many of the Colossus computers still exist today? (0, all were destroyed after the war)

When was the Colossus first seen working? (1943)

How big was the entire team that developed the Programma 101? (Pier Giorgio Perotto and his team of 4 people: 5 people)

How much did the world’s first desktop personal computer cost? ($3,200, $20,000 in today’s money)

What does the “64” mean in “Commodore 64”? (It refers to the 64kb of RAM the machine used)

How many Commodore 64s were built per month? (At the height of its power, 400,000 units a month)

Who drew the first Apple logo? (Ronald Gerald Wayne)

How many people founded Apple? (three)

How much would a 10% stake in Apple be worth today? (Approx $60 billion)

What did Steve Jobs sell to raise funds to start Apple? (Volkswagen Van)

What does “Microsoft” mean? (combination of the words “microcomputer” and “software”)

What is the most eaten food in Microsoft cafeterias? (pizza)

Who founded Microsoft? (Bill Gates)


The incredible story of the first PC, from 1965

Facts about Lithium-ion batterys

Lithium-ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are a type of rechargeable batteries commonly used in consumer electronics. They have a high power to weight ratio, no memory effect, and only a slow loss of charge when not in use. The lithium battery was first developed in 1912 by G.N. Lewis but the rechargeable lithium battery was not commercially available until the early 1970s.

A typical lithium-ion battery can store around 150 watt-hours of electricity in a 1 battery of 1 kilo. A lead-acid battery can store only 25 watt-hours per kilo. Using lead-acid technology, it takes 6 kilograms to store the same amount of energy that a 1 kilogram lithium-ion battery can handle.

In certain circumstances Lithium-ion batteries can be dangerous and can pose a safety hazard because they contain, unlike other rechargeable batteries, a flammable electrolyte and are also kept pressurized. Although the risk is very low there has been concern about allowing Lithium-ion batteries to be transported by aircraft which could result in tragedy, a fire involving lots of them could destroy a plane. At present (2015) there is no adequate solution to this problem, about 4.8 billion lithium-ion cells were manufactured in 2013, and production is forecast to reach 8 billion a year by 2025.

It is likely that there will be important breakthroughs in battery technology involving lithium-ion battery’s which will enable a large reduction in the use of fossil fuels and nuclear generated power. A lot of the research and development has been encouraged by the electric car industry. Many improvements are starting to appear such as reducing the charge times and increasing the amount of charge cycles which affects the life of the battery.

A very interesting development in this field is the announcement by Tesla Motors in May 2015 of a new affordable battery capable of supplying power to homes or businesses. The price of solar panels has come down in the last few years so the price of actually generating electricity using solar power has come down to acceptable levels in comparison to electricity bought from the grid. The reason that solar power has not taken off in a big way is because of the price of electricity storage which until now had almost always using lead acid battery’s. The power generated during the day has to be stored for use during the night or at times of low sunlight.

The new Tesla includes the $3500 Powerwall, a home-based battery pack that can store 10 kilowatt-hours of power. That is like using a 1kw kettle for 10 hours. This would not be enough for heating but it could easily power a modern house fitted with led light bulbs and other efficient systems. The life of the battery is said to be 10 years. In a sunny country it would be possible to have free electricity for 10 years based on an initial investment of around $6000. For many people this would be cheaper than using an electric company.

The Powerwall batterys, – which are about 33 inches (0.8 meters) wide, 51 inches (1.4 m) tall and 7 inches (17.8 centimeters) deep — are designed to be easy to install, and will connect to the Internet so that users can monitor their power usage.

It seems that the change from centrally generated electricity to domestic and locally generated electricity is finally starting to become a reality. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the next few years.

Tesla website

Solar Energy tutorial