(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The major theme of Artificial Intelligence is the rapid evolution of computers. The computer originated in mathematical theory, chiefly the binary system of algebra worked out by George Boole during the mid-nineteenth century. Another mathematician, Charles Babbage, constructed an “analytical engine” considered to be the forerunner of the computer. Impetus in the development of computers occurred during World War II. Mark I, completed in 1944 after five years of work by Harvard University and IBM, is considered the world’s first electromechanical computer. The Colossus, a British computer, broke German codes and helped the Allies win World War II. All these early computers used vacuum tubes through which electrons moved to create the circuits that enable computers to calculate.

In 1947, Bell Telephone Laboratories revolutionized the computer industry by inventing the transistor to replace the vacuum tube. Electrons move through solid crystal instead of evacuated space in transistors. Gradually, the size of transistors was reduced. In 1960, one transistor fit on one silicon chip; by 1980, a hundred thousand fit on one silicon chip. Simultaneous with this reduction in size came an increase in speed. Circuits within computers can switch off and on in trillionths of a second because of integrated circuits or microprocessors.

Along with the evolution of the physical properties of computers came the evolution of their capabilities. Since the original systems that simply processed information, scientists have begun to create artificial intelligence patterned after human intelligence. Research into enabling computers to see, touch, listen, speak, read, and...

(The entire section is 692 words.)