How the Smartphone H’app’ened: Part 1 – A Journey through History
Posted on: February 19, 2015.

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“It is unworthy of excellent men to lose hours like slaves in the labour of calculation which could safely be relegated to anyone else if machines were used.”
– Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646–1716)

Analytical Engine (Computer) – 1833 AD

Originated by British inventor Charles Babbage (1791 – 1871), the Analytical Engine was the world’s first general-purpose programmable computer. Punched cards were used to input programs and data for processing. A printer, a curved plotter and a bell served as the output. A store, or memory, was capable of holding 1,000 numbers of 40 decimal digits each. The “mill”—an arithmetic and logical unit (ALU), a rough equivalent of the modern-day Central Processing Unit (CPU)—had its own internal procedures—the rough equivalent of the microcode in modern CPUs—to carry out complex user operations. Three different types of punch cards were used: one for arithmetical operations, one for numerical constants, and one for load and store operations (transferring numbers from the store to the mill or back), with three separate readers for the three types of cards.

The Analytical Engine—a machine that was about a century ahead of its time—could not be completed within Babbage’s lifetime, due to thousands of parts to be done by hand by a chief machinist, that led to delays and disputes. Eventually, the British Government dissolved the project on a decision to cease funding the same.

Telegraph – 1844 AD

Practically demonstrated by American painter Samuel Morse (1791–1872) in 1844, “What hath God wrought!” was the historic first message exchanged over telegraph—the most significant invention of the 19th century, that revolutionized long-distance communication and set the basis for its future evolutions, thereby altering the course of world history. The electric, single-circuit, single-wire Morse telegraph consisted of an operator key, battery, wire, a series of wooden poles to support and carry the wire and a receiver. For the purpose of communication, Morse co-invented the Morse code with the help of his assistant Alfred Vail, as the telegraph did not support speech. Messages were transmitted in a combination of dots and dashes—short and long electrical pulses created by switching electric current on and off using a key to complete an electric circuit—which the receiver interpreted by “reading” the lengths of the clicks or the markings printed on a strip of paper by a moving stylus.

Telephone – 1876 AD

Practically demonstrated by Scottish scientist Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922) in 1876, “Mr. Watson, come here! I want to see you!” became a well-known part of American history. Bell patented his invention titled “apparatus for transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically”. Bell used electromagnets to create an electromagnetic field (EMF) as a medium in which complex vibrations—timbre, amplitude, and frequencies—of “articulate speech” could be electrically transmitted by wire and acoustically reproduced.

Bell’s telephone uses a circular transmitter/mouthpiece (microphone)—a thin disk of soft-iron diaphragm–armature combination placed in front of a single, permanently magnetized bar-magnet with a coil of fine wire capped on the end of one pole—that collects the sound waves of the voice speaking into it. The sound waves hit the diaphragm—akin to a tuning fork striking a hard rubber pad—causing acoustic vibrations to travel through the EMF and thereby generate a modulated electric current in the coils of the electromagnet. This modulated electric current is transmitted by wire to a distant receiver/earpiece—identical to the transmitting apparatus in design but reverse in function—where it activates the receiver’s electromagnet causing its diaphragm to vibrate. This vibration is heard as the speaker’s voice (acoustic sound waves of speech), reproduced at the listener’s end.

Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) – 1885 AD

The existence of EMR was theoretically postulated for the first time by James Clerk Maxwell in 1865 and conclusively proved by German physicist Heinrich R. Hertz (1857–1894) in the years 1885-89. The unit of measurement for radiation wave frequency—Hertz (Hz), the rate of wave oscillation—is named in his honour. EM radiation characteristics are defined by frequency and wavelength. Frequency is inversely proportional to wavelength: Frequency increases as wavelength decreases and vice versa. The EMR umbrella covers the following wave classifications in the order of increasing frequency: radio, microwave, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x-ray and gamma ray. Of these EM radiations, all frequencies of radio waves and all types of low frequency (LF) microwaves are used in electronic communication.

Radio waves – 1887 AD

They were first produced deliberated by German physicist Heinrich R. Hertz (1857–1894) in 1887. The frequency range of the radio wave spectrum is 3 KHz to 300 Giga Hz (GHz)—3 Hz to 3 KHz is called long radio waves—of which the 3-30 GHz super-high frequency (SHF) and 30-300 GHz ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio waves are called microwaves (1888 AD).

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