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The Scytale

A transposition cipher changes the position of the letters in a message using a specific rule, called a key. The recipient, who also knows the  key, reverses the process to get the original text. Writing a message backwards is a transposition cipher, although it is not a secure one, as it is relatively easy to break the code.…

The IBM RAMAC 350

Developed in 1956, the IBM RAMAC 350 was the first computer to have a magnetic disk drive similar to those used today. It weighed 1 tonne (1 ton) and had  50 disks that stored a total of 5 MB of data.…

A table showing Decimal, Hexadecimal and Binary digits

Most people find binary numbers difficult to work with. The hexadecimal system is based on multiples of 16 and uses the digits 0 to 9 followed by the letters A to F. A 24-bit binary number defining a colour can be written as six hexadecimal digits, making life easier for
programmers.…

Braille, developed by French inventor Louis Braille (1809–1852), is a famous example of binary code. It allows blind people to read by converting text into a pattern of raised dots embossed on paper. Each character is represented by a group of six dots, which can have the binary values of “raised” or “not raised”.…

The human brain is constantly searching for familiar patterns. So much so that people often see patterns that aren’t there. This phenomenon, where a person might think a cloud looks like a particular object, or see a face in a cup of coffee, is known as pareidolia.…

The first integrated circuit was created in 1958 by American electrical engineer Jack Kilby (1923-2005). Before Kilby’s Invention, machines used vacuum tubes, which were bulky and unreliable. Kilby’s IC was based on tiny transistors, and all the parts were made on the one piece of material: the integrated chip was born.…

Greek inventor Hero devised a large number of machines. His steam engine, which he called an aeolipile, used the force of heated steam to make a metal sphere spin around. It was a clever idea, but never put to practical use.…

The D-wave quantum supercomputer has the same processing power as 100 million regular computers.
If 100 million computer chips were stacked on top of each other, they would be the same height as 23 Mount Everests.

Scottish mathematician John Napier (1550-1617) created a manually operated calculating device called Napier’s bones. A set of square rods carved from bone inscribed with numbers, it made multiplication, division, and finding square roots much easier. Napier based his device on an Arabic method introduced to Europe by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci (1175-1250).…

Colossus, built in 1943, was a computer that had a fixed function: to break coded messages. The same was true of the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), developed around the same time.
Changing the program of either of these computers involved rewiring the machine and physically pulling switches.…

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