The history of computing is longer than the history of computing hardware and modern computing technology and includes the history of methods intended for pen and paper or for chalk and slate, with or without the aid of tables. The timeline of computing presents a summary list of major developments in computing by date.

Historically, computers were human clerks who calculated in accordance with effective methods. These human computers did the sorts of calculation nowadays carried out by electronic computers, and many thousands of them were employed in commerce, government, and research establishments. The term computing machine, used increasingly from the 1920s, refers to any machine that does the work of a human computer, i.e., any machine that calculates in accordance with effective methods. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, with the advent of electronic computing machines, the phrase ‘computing machine’ gradually gave way simply to ‘computer’, initially usually with the prefix ‘electronic’ or ‘digital’.

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