My objective is to give a thumbnail sketch of the computing art, and perhaps to kill a few fallacies on the way. One fallacy which I will tackle right away is the idea that computers are essentially for numerical computations, and that if they do anything else it is, like Dr Johnson's description of a woman's preaching, ‘not done well, but it is surprising to find that it is done at all’. It is true that numerical computing was the umbilical cord on which the electronic computer was born; but the digital computer uses pulse patterns to represent the data, and there is nothing essentially numerical about the pulses.
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