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Computer science from A to Z

O is for Ordinateur (Computer)

© INRIA Sophie Auvin - O comme Ordinateur

Gears, electromechanical relays, mercury tubes, vacuum lamps...

computers over the years have resorted to virtually everything.

From the mechanical calculators of the 17th century to the enormous computers of the 1940s, many different technologies have been tried. So why has electronics ended up dominating?

Because it is the only technology which allows us, by miniaturising the circuits, to gain on every front: the tiny chip that replaces a set of components is not only faster, but more reliable, less energy-guzzling, and less expensive to produce...

By integrating hundreds of millions of transistors in a minuscule microprocessor, we can now give mobile phones and personal music players all the same functions as a computer.

Current techniques are approaching their physical limits. What will the next generation consist of? A new kind of electronic nanochip, biological or quantum computers?

Did you know...?

© INRIA / Sophie Chauvin - Ordinateur

Not everything that computes is a computer!
A digital camera effects complex calculations to optimise its settings, but that is all it can do. A computer, on the other hand, can save new programs that extend its capabilities.

Keywords: Computer science from A to Z Science awareness