Course CSE301
Title History of Computing
Credits 3
Course Coordinator

R. McKenna


A study of the history of computational devices from the early ages through the end of the 20th century. Topics include needs for computation in ancient times, deveopment of computational models and devices through the 1800's and early 1900's, World War II and the development of the first modern computer, and early uses in business. Creation of programming languages and the microchip. Societal changes in computer usage due to the microcomputer, emergence of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and mobile computing. Legal and social impacts of modern computing. Cannot be used as a technical elective for the CSE major or minor. This course is offered as both CSE 301 and ISE 301.

Prerequisite U2 standing or higher

Advisory Prerequisite: one course in computing

Course Outcomes
  • To study the historical, political, and social events that led to the development of modern computational devices.
  • To examine the lives of some of the most influential inventors, thinkers and entrepreneurs of the computer revolution.
  • To understand how computer hardware and software evolved based on social and economic forces in the 20th century.
  • To consider current social, legal and ethical issues in computer science and determine the factors that led to these modern problems.

  • Computer: A History of the Information Machine (3rd Edition) by Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray, Nathan Ensmenger, Jeffrey R. Yost.

Major Topics Covered in Course
  • Early Computational Devices and Number System, Charles Babbage and the Analytical Engine, Computing in the 1800s, (2 weeks)
  • Analog computing, the development of formal computing models: Computing in the early 1900s, World War II and the Advent of Modern Computers in the 1940s (2 weeks)
  • Computers become a Business Tool, Mainframe Computing in the 1950s, Early history of software and programming languages, The computing industry in the 1960s, the rise of IBM, (3 weeks)
  • The impact of the microprocessor in the 1970s, Moore 's Law, new CPUs, The personal computer, modern input devices, The Graphical Interface, the rise of Microsoft, (3 weeks)
  • The Quest for Intelligent machines, Development of the Internet and the World Wide Web, Mobile and wireless computing emerges, Legal and Social Impacts of Modern Computing, (3 weeks)
  • Women in computing, (0.5 weeks
  • Midterm, (0.5 weeks)

Laboratory Projects


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