OC005-The Human Computer

Gap-fill exercise

When computers were human

Think of a word which best fits into the gap. Use only one word in each gap !

In the novel Dune by Frank Herbert, which is set hundreds of years the future, it is forbidden to build computers. This is because thinking machines have become so powerful they almost took over the world. Instead, there are Mentats - humans trained to perform the kinds of calculations and analysis that you normally expect a computer to carry .

Even Mentats are a fictional creation, human computers are something real. The word "computer" was first used than 300 years ago and referred to a person job was to perform mathematical calculations. In the middle of the 18th century, Clairault, a French mathematician wanted to calculate the date when Hailey's Comet would return. Although he knew to do this, the calculations were very complex, so he shared the work with several computers who helped him arrive at the correct answer.

In the 19th century an Indian mathematician was employed as a computer by a team of British explorers, and was the first person to calculate the height of the highest mountain the world , was later named Mount Everest. During the World Wars of the 20th century, huge teams of human computers employed to work on maps, codes and countless other military and engineering projects. It was not about 1950 that mechanical computers began to take over, and the days of the human computer were finally numbered.