Lexikon's History of Computing

Computer History Quiz Answers

Return to Title Page

101 Questions (and Answers) to Test Your Computer History Knowledge

Click Here for Questions Only

Questions and Answers


What is the first English language use of the word "computer"?


-------------> Answer: The first known English language use of the word "computer" is found in writings of Sir Thomas Browne in 1646. Browne defined "computers" as persons who reckoned the passage of time through the making up of calendars.



What is the name of the ancient counting device used thousands of years ago, that is still used in some parts of the world today?


-------------> Answer: The Abacus.



What is the probable origin of the decimal numbering system?


-------------> Answer: The ten fingers of the hands. Our numbering system was used by the Arabs as early as 800 A.D. and was probably borrowed from India.




Arabic numerals were introduced into Europe by Leonardo Pisano Fibonacci in what century?


-------------> Answer: The thirteenth century (approximately 1202)




In 1614, what Scottish mathematician, invented the use of logarithms and developed a process of using rods for mathematical calculations?


-------------> Answer: John Napier



In 1623, this German mathematician and clergyman designed and built a mechanism which could add, subtract, multiply and divide. His machine was similar in operation to the slide rule but also incorporated a set of metal wheels that performed the arithmetical operations. He called his device a "calculator-clock."


-------------> Answer: Wilhelm Schickard



Who developed an early slide rule and circular rule in 1632?


-------------> Answer: William Oughtred



In 1642, what French mathematician and philosopher, developed a calculator called the "Arithmatique" or "Pascaline."


-------------> Answer: Blaise Pascal



In 1671, he invented a machine that performed multiplication, division and extraction of square roots. This device was called the "___________ Wheel."


-------------> Answer: Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz; the "Leibnitz Wheel"



In 1801, Joseph Marie Jacquard built the first of these devices for which he later became well known. -


------------> Answer: first punch-card controlled machine



In 1820, what Frenchman developed a complete hand-operated mechanical calculator?


-------------> Answer: Charles Xavier Thomas of Colmar, Alsace, France



Who developed the "Difference Engine" concept in 1822?


-------------> Answer: Charles Babbage



In 1833, this same individual designed a machine which relied on punched cards to perform automatic calculations. Although he did not build a working model, his machine design was called the "____________ __________."


-------------> Answer: Analytical Engine



This person developed a punched-card driven tabulating machine in 1880, that was later used in calculating the totals for the U.S. Census Bureau. He later started his own company.


-------------> Answer: Herman Hollerith



This person (the answer to question 14), started his own company in 1886 which he called the "Tabulating Machine Company." In 1911, he sold this company to a group of investors and it became part of a new company called the "Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company" or "CTR." In 1924, CTR became what now famous company?


-------------> Answer: IBM (International Business Machines Corporation)



In 1939, Harvard University and IBM enter into an agreement to build a large mechanical calculating machine called the ASCC. What does ASCC stand for?


-----------> Answer. Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator



In 1939, what German scientist and inventor created the first automatic, program-controlled, fully functional, general purpose digital computer?


-------------> Answer: Dr. Konrad Zuse



What was his computer called?


-------------> Answer: the Z-3 computer



This same individual (in question 17) developed the first high-level programming language. What was the language called?


-------------> Answer: "Plankalkul."



From 1939 to 1945, the Allies were hard at work attempting to break the coded messages sent by the Germans and Japanese during World War II. What now famous English estate was the location of one of the secret code-breaking efforts?


-------------> Answer: Bletchley Park, U.K.



What was the name of the German cypher machine used in World War II?


-------------> Answer: The Enigma



What electronic, vacuum-tube based code breaking machine was developed at the Dollis Hill Research Station in 1943?


-------------> Answer: The Colossus



Both the Americans and the British built electromechanical code-breaking machines during the 1939 to 1945 period. What was the odd name of these machines?


-------------> Answer: Bombes



In 1939, George Stibitz designed and built an electromechanical calculator using about 450 relays. It was probably the first computing device capable of being operated remotely over a telephone line. What was this machine called?


-------------> Answer: The Bell Labs Model 1



George Stibitz also designed a general purpose computer that utilized paper tape for programming (around 1943). What was this computer called?


-------------> Answer: The Bell Labs Model II



J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly designed and built the famous ENIAC machine in 1946. What does ENIAC stand for?


-------------> Answer: Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer



Eckert and Mauchly later went on to start the first computer company in the United States. It was originally called the "Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company" but was later purchased by what large company?


-------------> Answer: Remington-Rand purchased it in 1950



What computer was produced by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly and marketed by Remington-Rand?


-------------> Answer: The UNIVAC



What famous woman was highly instrumental in the development of many early programming languages and compilers, and who worked for the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company?


-------------> Answer: Rear Admiral Grace Hopper



Who constructed the "ABC," an early vacuum tube-based computer in 1939-41, at Iowa State University?


-------------> Answer: John Vincent Atanasoff and Clifford Berry



Who founded the Harvard Computational Laboratory and co-authored a paper on the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator" (ASCC)" in 1946?


-------------> Answer: Howard Aiken



What was the other name for the ASCC?


-------------> Answer: The Harvard Mark I



Built in 1949, the BINAC was made by the Eckert-Mauchly division of Remington-Rand, and had 700 tubes. What did BINAC stand for?


-------------> Answer: Binary Automatic Computer



The digital computer that had more vacuum tubes than any other computer ever made was the__________?


-------------> Answer: ENIAC (it had 18,000 vacuum tubes)



What does IBM stand for?


-------------> Answer: International Business Machines Corporation



What pre-1940 computer was nicknamed "The Baby?"


-------------> Answer: George Stibitz's Bell Labs Model 3 computer It was nicknamed "the baby"since its trouble alarm often went off during the night and woke people up.



This project is a multi-million dollar project designed to study artificial intelligence. The Cyc computer contains a massive database of facts and learning programs. It was started in 1984 at Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation (MCC), an Austin based research consortium of high-tech companies. In 1994, MCC spun off this project on its own. Today, it is one of the largest, continuously running artificial intelligence research projects in existence.


-------------> Answer: The Cyc Project



The Internet grew out of a project originally funded by this U.S. Government agency.


-------------> Answer: ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) -- -- (also known as DARPA)




Who invented the CP/M operating system?


-------------> Answer: Dr. Gary Kildall




MS DOS came mostly from an earlier program called "QDOS." What did QDOS stand for?


-------------> Answer: "Quick and Dirty Operating System"



Who founded Lotus Development Corporation?


-------------> Answer: Mitch Kapor in 1982




Who founded Digital Equipment Corporation?


-------------> Answer: Kenneth Olsen, along with Stan Olsen and Harland Anderson, left M.I.T.'s Lincoln Labs and founded Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) with $70,000 in capital (1957)



Who founded Intel Corporation?


-------------> Answer: Robert N. Noyce and Gordon E. Moore, were two of the original 8 founders of Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1968, they became dissatisfied with the direction Fairchild was taking and they decided to start their own company, N M Electronics. Andrew S. Grove, Ph.D., also from Fairchild, soon joined them. It was later changed to INTEL.




In January 1977, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and a former marketing manager at Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor incorporated Apple Computer. Who was this third person?


-------------> Answer: Armas C. "Mark" Markkula




Who founded Atari in 1971?


-------------> Answer: Nolan Bushnell




This man designed the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine.


-------------> Answer: Charles Babbage



In 1952, IBM was selected to work with MIT on a proposed government air defense system. It was known as the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system. In July 1958 it became operational at McGuire Air Force Base. What was this project called for short?


-------------> Answer: Project SAGE




In 1968, SRI International produced the first complete robot system, -- called__________?


-------------> Answer: Shakey




This company produced the 816, the first digital microcomputer available for personal use, and the first successful microcomputer kit, the Altair.


-------------> Answer: MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems)




The first commercially available microprocessor was the____?


-------------> Answer: Intel 4004 (1971)




In 1959, Digital Equipment Corporation produced its first minicomputer. What was it called?


-------------> Answer: PDP-1 (Programmed Data Processor)




What was the first large scale, fully functional, stored-program, electronic digital computer (1949) at Cambridge, England?


-------------> Answer: EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer)




What was the first real-time processing computer (1946-53) at MIT?


-------------> Answer: Whirlwind, built by J. Forrester and others at MIT




Who was head of IBM during its big expansion in the computer manufacturing business?


-------------> Answer: Thomas Watson, Jr.




What was IBM's first electronic computer? (Hint: It was made in 1953.)


-------------> Answer: The IBM 701



The first U.K. Computer company produced the LEO computer in 1953. The Company was J. Lyons. What was the company's primary line of business?


-------------> Answer: J. Lyons was a maker of tea and pastries




What does EBCDIC stand for?


-------------> Answer: Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code




What does ASCII stand for?


-------------> Answer: American Standard Code for Information Interchange




Who founded Microsoft Corporation?


-------------> Answer: Bill Gates and Paul Allen




Who invented the "mouse?" in the early 1960's?


-------------> Answer: Dr. Douglas Engelbart




What does BASIC stand for?


-------------> Answer: Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code



What does FORTRAN stand for?


-------------> Answer: Formula Translator




What does COBOL stand for?


-------------> Answer: Common Business Oriented Language




What personal computer was originally called the "Acorn?"


-------------> Answer: The IBM PC




Some very early computers (before 1959) used acoustic delay line storage devices, with a specific type of liquid used in acoustic tanks. The liquid was very dense and was used to store vibrations. What liquid was most often used?


-------------> Answer: Mercury




What was the first commercially available computer that businesses could purchase?


-------------> Answer: UNIVAC, 1951




Who made the first hand-held, scientific, pocket-calculator?


-------------> Answer: Hewlett-Packard, in 1972




Who produced the PET microcomputer?


-------------> Answer: Commodore Business Machines, in 1977




What company was founded by these three men: Edward Roberts, William Yates and Jim Bybee?


-------------> Answer: MITS, maker of the Altair




IBM introduced removable magnetic disc units for data storage in 1960. These units were called:


-------------> Answer: magazines




Who developed the first "floppy disks" in 1971?


-------------> Answer: Alan Shugart led a team at IBM that developed the 8 inch floppy diskette for data and program storage



IBM marketed its first microcomputer in what year?


-------------> Answer: in 1975 they marketed the IBM 5100 microcomputer IBM's first marketed personal computer, but it was not successful (in 1981, IBM introduced the IBM PC, which was successful)




This company produced the VAX series of processors.


-------------> Answer: Digital Equipment Corporation




Some early computers (pre-1960) used CRT type devices for memory storage. These devices were named after their inventor. What were they called?


-------------> Answer: "Williams Tubes" after F. C. Williams




What do ROM and RAM stand for?


-------------> Answer: -- ROM = Read-only Memory -- -- RAM = Random Access Memory



Tapes and diskettes are magnetic media. CD-ROMs are referred to as ___________ media.


-------------> Answer: optical media



A digital computer works with data in the form of bits (Binary Digits), which have either an "on" or an "off" condition. An ______________ computer is a device that performs computations using continuous physical variables which are analogs of the actual items being computed. Such computers might, for example, use the continuous rotation of gears or the angular movements of mechanical or electromechanical parts to perform computations. What are these types of computers called?


-------------> Answer: Analog computers



In a computer, what does CPU stand for?


-------------> Answer: Central Processing Unit




Computer chips are often made of this common substance, which is a semiconductor material.


-------------> Answer: silicon




Who founded Apple Computer?


-------------> Answer: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac




Who designed the Osborne computer?


-------------> Answer: Adam Osborne




Who founded Oracle Corporation?


-------------> Answer: Larry Ellison




Who developed the JAVA language?


-------------> Answer: James Gosling




Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape's Navigator are two examples of what kind of software?


-------------> Answer: Web Browsers




The term NOS, in computer terminology, stands for _________ __________ _________.


-------------> Answer: Network Operating System




This function on the Internet allows one to send or receive files to or from remote computing systems.


-------------> Answer: FTP (File Transfer Protocol)




At one time, this company was the largest computer company in the world. It was formed from five companies, including Rand Kardex and others.


-------------> Answer: Remington Rand Corporation was formed in 1927 from five companies: 1. Remington Standard Typewriter Company 2. Rand Kardex 3. Powers Accounting Machine Company 4. Safe Cabinet Company, and 5. The Dalton Adding Machine Company It later merged with Sperry Corporation to form Sperry-Rand. Prior to 1954, Sperry-Rand was the largest computer company in the world. By the mid-1950's, they lost their lead to IBM and never regained it.




John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley are credited with what revolutionary invention in 1947?


-------------> Answer: the Transistor




Advances in microprocessor technology and computer ship manufacturing processes made possible VLSI. What is VLSI?


-------------> Answer: Very Large Scale Integration




The SEAC, SWAC, DYSEAC, Pilot Data Processor, FLAC and MIDAC were all computers developed by or with the aid of what U.S. Government Bureau?


-------------> Answer: National Bureau of Standards (NBS) (now called NIST)




During the 1960's, much research was done into the process of enabling more than one person to use a computer system at one time. Early research in this area was done at MIT, Dartmouth, at the Cambridge office of Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BB&N), and other areas. What was this concept called?


-------------> Answer: Time sharing




In 1986, Burroughs Corporation merged with Sperry Rand Corporation to form UNISYS, the second largest computer company in the world at that time. What does UNISYS stand for?


-------------> Answer: United Systems




The HP-35 was the world's first pocket electronic scientific calculator. It was introduced in January 1972 and had the equivalent of 30,000 transistors. It originally sold for _______. (a) -- Under $99.00 (b) -- $199.95 (c) -- $250.49 (d) -- Over $390.00


-------------> Answer: (d) Over $390.00




Memphis is the code name for what Microsoft product?


-------------> Answer: Windows 98




This family of protocols is used on the Internet and is becoming more widely used by businesses and organizations in the design of their internal networks and Intranets. It is known by its five letter acronym. What is it?


-------------> Answer: TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)




Which of these items have been used at one time or another for computer data and program storage: Punched Cards; Punched Paper Tape; Punched Film; Magnetic Cards; Magnetic Tape Magnetic Disk; Magnetic Drum


-------------> Answer: All of Them



Who made the original 80386, 80486, Pentium and the P6 chips?


-------------> Answer: Intel



Who makes the 100 Mb Zip disk drive?


-------------> Answer: Iomega




Who was Bill Gate's partner in forming Microsoft Corporation?


-------------> Answer: Paul Allen




Who made the first general purpose, program-controlled electronic digital computer?


-------------> Answer: Dr. Konrad Zuse's Z3 COMPUTER, designed and built from 1938 to 1941, was the first automatic, program-controlled, fully functional, general purpose digital computer.




Decimal is base 10. Binary is base 2. What is base 16?


-------------> Answer: Hexadecimal

Return to Title Page

Copyright © 1982-2002, Lexikon Services "History of Computing" ISBN 0-944601-78-2