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UNIT #1 – The History of Computers

Karen Provencal

Hyde Park Middle School

Las Vegas, NV



A.  What do you know?  Use a FACT SHEET for each person or invention listed.


10 points ____ Abacus

10 points ____ John Napier

12 points ____ Blaise Pascal

10 points ____ Joseph Jacquard

12 points ____ Herman Hollerith

12 points ____ Charles Babbage

10 points ____ Ada Lovelace

12 points ____ Steve Jobs

12 points ____ Bill Gates

A.   DUE DATE ___/___ Total points = _____________ / 78

B.  What have you learned?  Use the URL(s) listed to answer each question.


10 points ____ Create a timeline of the inventor’s and inventions listed above.  List the YEAR that their famous invention was created.  GO TO HARD DRIVE > APPLICATIONS > WORLD BOOK 2004 FOLDER > TIMELINE WIZARD.  Follow these steps to CREATE & PRINT your Timeline.

<>5 points ____ Which companies are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates credited with creating?

25 points ____ Research the life and invention(s) of one of the people listed above. Give a three to five-minute oral presentation about this person- where they’re from, what they did and how or if it is used today.

5 points ____ Find an encyclopedia dated 1980 or earlier and copy the entry for computer.  Find an encyclopedia dated 1990 or later and copy the entry for computer.  List the words and phrases that are the same and those that are different.

B. DUE DATE ___/___  Total points = _____________ / 35

C.   Past, Present, and Future.

20 points ____ Explain the roles that The Department of Defense, Apple and IBM played in the history of the personal computer.  You may write an essay, create a timeline or design your own website.  Include names, dates and references to your sources.

10 points ____ What are three major computer manufacturers in the world today?  Compare their top selling computer(s).  Include machine specifications and cost.  Which of these three would you buy and why?

20 points ____ Choose a field of technology that interests you like computers, hardware, software, communication, robotics, roller coasters, weapons, etc. (Sorry, no video games or systems).  Make a timeline of some new ideas and products developed during YOUR lifetime.  Start in the year you were born and up to and including this year.  You should have 1 to 3 items for each year.  For each technology, list the following:

      Name                  • Maker                 • Image

      Brief description (less than 20 words)        • Month “it” was first used/sold

C. DUE DATE ___/___  Total points = _____________ / 30



A. What do you know?  Use a FACT SHEET for each component listed.


25 points ____ vacuum tubes

25 points ____ transistors

25 points ____ integrated circuits

25 points ____ microprocessors

A. DUE DATE ___/___  Total points = _____________ / 75


B. What have you learned?  Use the URL(s) listed to answer each question.

10 points ____ What new uses have been found for integrated circuits?

5 points ____ How does a microprocessor work?  What does it process?

5 points ____ What travels through an integrated circuit?  What units are used to measure this?

10 points ____ Why is the microprocessor the brains of the computer?

20 points ____ Find an item used at home, school, or another place you frequent, that is not designed well, and redesign it to make it easier for people to use. Designs may be presented as drawings or physical models. Models may be made from any materials available. They do not necessarily have to work, just so they represent what the real item would look like, either full size or to scale.

B. DUE DATE ___/___  Total points = _____________ / 30


C. How were computers developed?

30 points ____ The first microprocessors were made in the 1970’s by M.E. Hoff.  Today, Intel is one of the leading manufacturers.  Extra care must be taken when making the microprocessors and special suits must be worn.  Create a model of a “clean room” OR “bunny suit.”

30 points ____ Think of the sewing machine or the phonograph, or any other inventions that has changed the way we work and live.  The original sewing machines were not electronic but had to be operated by a foot pedal.  Even the phonograph evolved into the CD player. Trace the changes & discoveries in one of these, or any other invention.

20 points ____ How do people communicate?  Think of your friends, family, teachers, coaches, community leaders, etc.  How do you communicate with them? Ask two adults this same question.  Record their answers and compare their answers with your thoughts.  What common tools are used?

C. DUE DATE ___/___  Total points = _____________ / 50


A. What do you know? Use a FACT SHEET for each component listed.

20 points ____ 1st generation (1940’s – 1950’s)

20 points ____ 2nd generation (late 1950’s – early 1960’s)

20 points ____ 3rd generation (late 1960’s – 1970’s)

20 points ____ 4th generation (1980’s – 1990’s)

20 points ____ 5th generation (2000’s - ????)

A. DUE DATE ___/___  Total points = _____________ / 80

B. What have you learned? Use the URL(s) listed to answer each question.

30 points ____ Design a model of the ENIAC using AppleWorks draw or paint tools.  Include labels of the parts of the machine.

20 points ____ Select a common, non-electric household item that you believe is important. Write down answers to the following questions about your item:

     1. What need does this item fill?

     2. What do you think the first one looked like?

     3. How did it change?

     4. How could it still be improved?

     5. What might this item look like in the future? (Draw a sketch.)

20 points ____ Imagine that you are a gifted computer engineer.  You have the power to travel back in time, as early as the 1940’s.  Choose three different generations of computers that you would travel to and one technology in each generation you would work to create.

B. DUE DATE ___/___  Total points = _____________ / 50

C. What’s the next generation?

30 points ____ Compare and contrast the MARK I, ENIAC, & EDVAC. You must use images or illustrations.

30 points ____ Can you think of a problem that hasn't been solved or a need that has not been met?  Design an invention to provide a solution or fill that need. Respond in writing to the following:

     1. Define the problem.

     2. Give causes for the problem.

     3. Describe your solution.

     4. Tell why your solution will improve the situation.

Give a three to five-minute oral presentation when you have completed either assignment A or B.

C. DUE DATE ___/___  Total points = _____________ / 30


Ms. Provencal, Hyde Park Middle School, Nevada

Who are you?

Name ___________________________________  Class ________

What PERSON, PLACE, THING are you learning about?


When was it BORN, BUILT, or INVENTED?


Where did IT come from?


Is IT used today?



How did you learn about this?





Use the back of this sheet for ONE of the following:

     • Sketch the person, place or thing you have researched.

     • Attach a copied/printed image from a URL.