A Computational Conundrum: “What is a Computer?” A Historical Overview


This introduction begins by posing the question that this Special Issue addresses and briefly considers historical precedents and why the issue is important. The discussion then moves on to the consideration of important milestones in the history of computing, up until the present time. A brief specification of the essential components of computational systems is then offered. The final section introduces the papers that are included in this volume.

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Fig. 1

(Photo Credit: R. Berkeley)


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    For a more detailed technical discussion, see Campbell-Kelly and Garcia-Swartz (2015).


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In closing, I have a number of people I need to thank. First and foremost, I need to thank the editor-in-chief of Minds and Machines, Mariarosaria Taddeo. She has done a great job guiding this issue to publication. I also would like to thank Devi Shanmagam, with Springer. Of course, I also need to thank all the contributors to this issue, including those whose submissions did not make the final cut. Finally, I need to thank the army of referees, who gave of their time to comment on all the papers.

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Correspondence to Istvan S. N. Berkeley.

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Berkeley, I.S.N. A Computational Conundrum: “What is a Computer?” A Historical Overview. Minds & Machines 28, 375–383 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11023-018-9475-4

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  • Computer
  • Computation
  • History
  • Turing