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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Major Influencers in Information Systems

Information systems have changed a lot over time but, we only started to see a rapid increase and change in the development of these systems in the 20th century. Some of the major influences to the development of IS were the following people:

Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage’s first machine was called the Difference Engine. Despite a mathematician called Blaise Pascal having built the first calculator/computer in the 1640’s, it was unreliable and couldn\'t do nearly as much as Babbage’s machine. Babbage’s engine could do basic things like addition and multiplication. What made the engine so unique was how it could create tables from the results results of seven-degree polynomial functions. His first engine was built up from 25,000 different parts and weighed nearly 15 tonnes. After his first machine running out of funding, Babbage began work on a more advanced machine called the Analytical Engine. This engine could be programmed through commands. The Analytical Engine was the first machine that could be programmed. Babbage worked on this engine for most of his life but wasn\'t finished. His engines weren\'t built until the 1990’s and early 2000’s by a team at the London Science Museum. Even though his machines weren\'t built for another century, Babbage is known as the Father of computers because of his contributions.

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace is known as the worlds first computer programmer. She met Charles Babbage when she was seventeen. Babbage and Lovelace worked together for years on the development of the Analytical Engine. She took notes on Babbages work and described how the machine could use data input to calculate a sequence known as Bernoulli numbers. She did this by diagraming the computations that the analytical engine would make which was essentially the first computer algorithm. She also predicted it would be used to compose music and produce graphics.

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 Ben-Anthony Donnelly Business Information Systems 2933093

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a codebreaker for the British during the war. He broke enigma codes used by the Germans which gave the British an advantage in the second world war, which are rightly his most remembered and celebrated accomplishments. Turing’s work was well recognised by the government and he even had a personal recommendation from Winston Churchill. Turing also worked on the advancement of artificial intelligence by questioning whether or not computers could think. By questioning this the Turing test was created. This test stated that a computer can only truly think if a person can\'t tell it apart from a human when conversing. He created a chess game program, but when he tried to run it, it was unsuccessful. But in the the 1990’s the program was run successully.

Dennis Ritchie

Dennis Ritchie was an computer scientist born in America. He created the C programming language. Ritchie was also a main developer of the Unix operating system. One of the biggest contributions to the Unix system was the porting of unix to different OS’s. The C programming language was very successful, so successful that it’s still widely used today. Unix was also a very successful OS and two modern Operating Systems known as Linux and MacOS are based on Unix.

Tim Berners-Lee

The World Wide Web was created by a man called Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. He programmed the first web browser/client and web server in 1990 that could communicate with each other through a http protocol. Tim is the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium which sets the standards for the web. It develops software and guidelines to ensure the web reaches its full potential. As well as being the Director of WC3 and founder of the World Wide Web he is also the following:

- 3Com Founders Professor of Engineering in the School of Engineering in MIT - Computer Science and Electronics Professor in Southhampton University

- He was knighted by the queen of England

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 Ben-Anthony Donnelly Business Information Systems 2933093

How Information Systems have been developed since 1940

Since the 1940’s there have been major changes and developments in Information Systems. Such as:

- Hardware Changes

- Programming language changes - Software design changes

- Operating system changes

Hardware Changes

Williams-Kilburn Tube

One of the earliest developments was the Kilburn tube which was created in 1947.

Freddie Williams and Tom Kilburn developed the Williams-Kilburn tube in Manchester University. The Kilburn tube was the first high-speed electronic memory. “It used a cathode ray tube to store bits as dots on the screen’s surface”. The tube stored 128 40-bit words as an electrical charge that created a dots that lasted for a fraction of a second on the face of the tube.

Magnetic drum memory

Drum memory was created in 1932 by and Austrian man named Gustav Tauschek. Magnetic drum memory started to be widely used in computers in the 1960’s. The US government wanted to enhance their codebreaking abilities so they invested in the development of the technology. The result of this work was called atlas which was completed in 1950. The magnetic drum memory contained a ferromagnetic coated cylinder. The ferromagnetic material was used as a recording material.

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 Ben-Anthony Donnelly Business Information Systems 2933093

IBM 2315 Disk Cartridge

IBM\'s 2315 disk cartridge was announced in 1964. The cartridge was designed to be used with the IBM 1130 and 1800 computers and had 1MB of storage. Unlike older methods of storage it was easy to transport and was ideal for personal computers. The cartridge was magnetic ally coated, similar to dum memory, and was kept in a plastic case. The case slotted into a built in disk drive in a computer. When inserted it spun at 1500 rpm. Then an arm moved over the disk while it spun to read and write information on the disk.


The CD-Rom was developed by Phillips and Sony in 1982 for the distribution of Music. CD-Rom’s were a replacement for Compact Disks as they could hold 550 bytes of data. In 1995 the Grolier ́s Electronic Encyclopaedia was put onto a CD-Rom and only took up twelve percent of the storage. That same year all computer companies made their computers work with these CD-Rom’s

Changes In Computer Generations The 1st Generation of Computers

The 1st generation of computers were built between 1940 and 1955. They were powered by vacuum tubes and used magnetic drums to store information. One of these computers was called the ENIAC (Electric Numerical Integrator and Computer). It was built by John Presper Eckert and John Mauchly. The ENIAC had 70,000 resistors, 17,468 vacuum tubes, 10,000 capacitors, 1,500 relays, 6,000 manual switches and 5 million soldered joints inside it. It took up 1800 square feet and weighed 30 tons. The ENIAC could workout 5,000 additions, 357 multiplications or 38 divisions in less than a second and used 160 kilowatts doing so. The first generation of computers were expensive to build and run, and they couldn\'t do very much.

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 Ben-Anthony Donnelly Business Information Systems 2933093

The 2nd Generation of Computers

The second generation started being built in 1956. They used transistors instead of vacuum tubes which made the computers more reliable, cheaper to build, faster and much cheaper to run. The first programming languages started to emerge when the second

generation of computers came out such as FORTRAN and COBOL. Even though they were more efficient they still generated a lot of heat which caused damage to internal components in the computer.

The 3rd Generation of Computers

Transistors were replaced by integrated circuits in 1964. They made it possible to use silicon chips and micro transistors. The use of smaller components made it smaller and cheaper to run, which in turn made them more accessible by the general public. Keyboards and monitors were introduced and the first operating systems were created which could run multiple applications.

The 4th Generation of Computers

We still use the 4th generation of computers and they are the present generation. With the creation of microprocessors in 1971, computers started to be widely used. They have thousands of integrated circuits on one chip. This chip contained the CPU, memory and input/output controls. The first chip to do this was the Intel 4004 chip and 13 Apple released the Macintosh. Most devices today such as phones use microprocessors.

Programming language changes

Programming languages have changed a lot since 1940. 1945

In 1945 John Von Neumann came up with idea that simple hardware could be controlled by complex instructions and that you should be able to change the program without changing the hardware. His other idea was that programs should be broken down into

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Ben-Anthony Donnelly Business Information Systems 2933093

small bits of conditionally executed code that could be jumped to from anywhere in the program. This allowed programs to use If, Else and Loop statements.


The C programming language was developed by Dennis Ritchie and came to be used in popular Operating Systems today. The MacOS, Mac OSX and Linux operating systems are all Unix based. Unix is important because it “implemented the concept of cross- platform standardisation.” Because of this standardisation Unix runs on nearly every computer/device we have, smartwatches, phones, pc’s, laptops and more.


1991 was a huge success in the development of programming languages. HTML was introduced by Tim Berners-Lee, Development on Java began, Python was created and Visual Basic was introduced. Java is a cross platform language thats open source and free for anyone to use. After a decade there are over 6.5 million users. It was designed to be easy to use, reliable, secure and to run on any operating system regardless of what hardware it does or doesn\'t have.


In 1994 PHP was invented, PHP is a scripting language that can be embedded in html. It is widely used, especially for backends of websites. There are many open source php backends you can download for a website such as OpenCart which is an php based e- commerce site. It is not really suited to create client side applications with and is mainly a server side language.


In 2014 Apple released a language called Swift which is based on Objective-C. Swift is a powerful and concise open source language. In 2016 Apple released and application for iPad called Swift playgrounds which teaches children how to code swift by playing a game.

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