Only once in a lifetime will a new invention come about to
touch every aspect of our lives. Such devices changed the
way we manage, work, and live. A machine that has done all
this and more now exists in nearly every business in the
United States. This incredible invention is the computer. The
electronic computer has been around for over a half-century,
but its ancestors have been around for 2000 years.
However, only in the last 40 years has the computer
changed American management to it's greatest extent. From
the first wooden abacus to the latest high-speed
microprocessor, the computer has changed nearly every
aspect of management, and our lives for the better.
The very earliest existence of the modern day computer's
ancestor is the abacus. These date back to almost 2000
years ago (Dolotta, 1985). It is simply a wooden rack
holding parallel wires on which beads are strung. When
these beads are moved along the wire according to
programming rules that the user must memorize. All ordinary
arithmetic operations can be performed on the abacus. This
was one of the first management tools used.
The next innovation in computers took place in 1694 when
Blaise Pascal invented the first digital calculating machine. It
could only add numbers and they had to be entered by
turning dials. It was designed to help Pascal's father, who
was a tax collector, manage the town's taxes (Beer, 1966).
In the early 1800s, a mathematics professor named Charles
Babbage designed an automatic calculation machine
(Dolotta, 1985). It was steam powered and could store up
to 1000 50-digit numbers. Built in to his machine were
operations that included everything a modern
general-purpose computer would need. It was programmed
by and stored data on cards with holes punched in them,
appropriately called punch cards. This machine was
extremely useful to managers that delt with large volumes of
good. With Babbage's machine, managers could more easily... Continues...