Tech Apprenticeship Chronicles: Understanding the BeepBoops | by Victoria McNorrill | Jan, 2024

Victoria McNorrill
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Though I learned how to code without much knowledge on the computer science, I want pause and look back on the history, hardware and logic that founded the software I use everyday.

Logic Gates Theory to Computer Hardware

Women Holding the Parts of the First Four Army Computers (1962), U.S. Army Photo Number 163–12–62. Left: Patsy Simmers (mathematician/programmer), holding ENIAC board Next: Mrs. Gail Taylor, holding EDVAC board Next: Mrs. Milly Beck, holding ORDVAC board Right: Mrs. Norma Stec (mathematician/programmer), holding BRLESC-I board). As a work of the U.S. federal government, this file is in the public domain in the United States.
U.S. Army Photo: Parts of the First Four Army Computers (1962), From Left to Right: Patsy Simmers, mathematician/programmer, holding ENIAC board; Gail Taylor, holding EDVAC board; Milly Beck, holding ORDVAC board; Norma Stec, mathematician/programmer, holding BRLESC-I board.

The development of logic gates dates back to the mid-19th century, with George Boole’s formulation of Boolean algebra and to the 1930s, with Claude Shannon’s link between Boolean algebra and electrical circuits. However, they only provided the theoretical basis to logic gates. It was not until the 1940s when electronic switches known as transistors were implemented to construct digital logic gates. Advancements in semiconductor technology through the decades allowing for more compact integrations, such as microchips and microprocessors, and higher computing power.

Logic gates are now fundamental, system-building components, responsible for handling binary (the primary language of computers). To achieve this, when given one or more binary inputs, logic gates follow specific rules that result in a binary output. I think of the types of logic gates as simple one, more intricate ones, and special ones with each types playing different roles in making sure computers understand and process information correctly.

Hardware and Software:

Photo from UnSplash: Two people review code on a laptop with a second monitor taken by Desola Lanre-Ologun (2018)
2018: Two people, known as Temilola and Victor, review code (Desola Lanre-Ologun)

Computer hardware encompasses the physical elements of a computer — from the keyboard to the microchips to the monitor — that execute the system’s functions based on the software’s instructions. On the other side, computer software tells the hardware how to operate, process data and perform tasks through a set of instructions. Logic gates are the blueprint to programming logic, establishing instruction sequencing, conditional statements, iterations (loops) and functions within code.

It’s important to acknowledge here that code is written with different languages and code languages differ in syntax, semantics, and purpose. However, the programming logic is similarly applied to each language. Software developers who understand how this logic have the ability to wield different languages to craft solutions to specific computational challenges.

Conclusion

Within a couple of weeks, the more I learn about computer science, the more details emerge and the more questions I have. Though I am both overwhelmed and enthusiastic, I look forward to gaining deeper knowledge and understanding as I progress in my career.

Sources

8 Standard Computer Components and What They Do

Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris

Building an 8-Bit Breadboard Computer!

Comparing Programming Languages

Computer Science — Hardware and Software

Computers and the Internet — Logic gates and circuits

Electronics 101: History of (NAND n AND) Logic Gate

Exploring How Computers Work

Historic Computer Images

Logic Gates and their Applications

Logic Gate — Definitions, Types, Uses

Long before Gates or Jobs, 6 women programmed the first digital computer

Programming Logic

The Mathematics of Boolean Algebra

What are the main characteristics and examples of logic programming paradigms?

What is Binary?

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