Definition of a Computer
brian.russell at iclway.co.uk
Fri Apr 8 16:47:18 CDT 2005
> Megan wrote:
> > Years ago, someone (I don't remember who) gave the definition of a
> > computer as a "device which inputs some stuff, does some stuff to
> > it, and outputs some other stuff".
> Eric Smith wrote:
> Which is presumably not actually very useful as a definition of a
> since a cow would qualify.
I was always under the belief that a 'computer' was originally a man (yes,
almost always a man) who performed computations using slide-rule, log
tables, pencil and paper. When I look up my Chambers Dictionary this
evening, I get the definitions:
"Compute: to calculate, especially with a computer; to estimate.
Computer: a calculator; a person who computes; a machine or apparatus,
mechanical, electric or electronic, for carrying out (especially complex)
calculations, dealing with numerical data or with stored items of other
information, also used for ..."
Which seems to me to be only one step removed from the apocryphal definition
in the mythical dictionary of computer terms:
"Recursion: see recursion."
Whatever definition you prefer,
"always remember that the computer is out to get you; the proof of this can
be seen every time it does exactly what you told it to do!"
Brian M. Russell.
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