Computers, History and Economics of

In the 21st century, computer refers to an electronic device that can be programmed to perform arithmetic or logic operations automatically—a machine that is central to human engagement with most forms of media. The term itself, however, has been in use since the early 1800s to refer to individuals whose job was to compute celestial orbits, bank balances, navigation tables, and missile trajectories.

This entry provides an overview of the history and economics of computers, tracing their origins and development from the 1820s to the early 21st century and exploring their relationship to mass media.


The modern computer has important roots in the 1820s in the work of English mathematician Charles Babbage, but many scholars began their accounts of the history of computers in the late 19th ...

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