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Krugen K.

asked • 07/14/20

How did old computers run without operating systems?

The first operating systems were discovered in the 1950s. So how did older vacuum tube computers like Z3, Mark 1, ENIAC , EDVAC, etc work in the 1940s and earlier? There were said to be programmers and coaders from the 19th C, how was that done, how were bombs deployed in WW2 by computers. it is said that a computer is usless without its software, so how did the pre OS computers work and how were they programmable?

2 Answers By Expert Tutors

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Krugen K.

Thank you for the very well detailed and informative answer.
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28d

Krugen K.

I might have missed used the term discover instead of invention, but i do not think you understood the main question, how did old vacuum tube computers from the 1940s (Z3, Mark 1, ENIAC , EDVAC) run and were programmed when operating systems didn't exist. History has it early programmers used computers to deploy bombs in WW2, at that time OS werent discovered, OS were discovered in the 1950s, so how did pre OS computers work?
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28d

James G.

tutor
Running a program is a mechanical operation, you would press a button or flip a switch.
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27d

Charles B.

tutor
Back in the day (giving away my age), cardboard punchcards were used to deliver instructions in what I believe we would today call "machine language" or possibly "assembler." The phrase "Do not fold, spindle or mutilate" dates from that time, as spindling a punch card would create an unexpected hole in the card and might cause untold computational havoc! :)
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27d

Krugen K.

Thanks to both of you :). The switch and punch card examples explain it all.
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20d

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