What exactly is a Computer?

February 27, 2011 - General Computing

Whenever a new “discovery” is made of an ancient device like this one, it sparks debates about wether such a device is or is not a computer; in this case, by the commenters.

First, It’s important to note that the people discovering and working with these devices are Scientists they know damn well what they are talking about. There are far to many bloody armchair scientists who have this egocentricity that makes them feel like they are qualified to veto the findings and declarations made by the people working with this device hands-on for months and years based entirely on a short demonstration and explanation of how the device works. The people studying these types of discoveries are not homeless, educationless retards from the street; they are well-educated scientists who specialize in exactly that field, they know what they are doing.

The problems arise- well, at it’s core the reason is because so many people are egotistical morons – but also it’s because those ego-tistical morons don’t realize that “Computer” is a general-purpose term. Today, in common vernacular it generally means a desktop or laptop PC; based on this many people somehow feel that things like that described in the video are not really computers. In the comments there, there was even a debate about whether an abacus was a computer.

Of course it is. The person making that statement is clearly an uneducated troll. A Calculator is a computer; most people recognize that. But, a Computer does not need to actually perform any tasks on their own; a bunch of rocks are a computer just as much as our own fingers can be for counting or small objects. There is no requirement that a “computer” actually do the computing; in the case of us using our fingers we are using them more for “storage” then for actual calculation. But it still counts; a Computer explicitly means any device or devices designed to assist in the act of computation. So nearly anything can be called a computer. Of course whether something is technically a computer or not is a different story then that of whether people will understand what you mean when you say it; no doubt you would encounter any number of idiots who will argue your statements, much in the same way that there always seems to be a person in the room who has no idea what the difference between imply and infer are.

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