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A computer is a general purpose device that can be programmed to carry out a finite set of arithmetic or logical operations. Since a sequence of operations can be readily changed, the computer can solve more than one kind of problem.
Conventionally, a computer consists of at least one processing element, typically a central processing unit (CPU) and some form of memory. The processing element
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10–70 AD) built a mechanical theater which performed a play lasting 10 minutes and was operated by a complex system of ropes and drums that might be considered to be a means of deciding which parts of the mechanism performed which actions and when.[8] This is the essence of programmability.
Around the end of the 10th century, the French monk Gerbert d 'Aurillac brought back from Spain the drawings of a machine invented by the Moors that answered either Yes or No to the questions it was asked.[9] Again in the 13th century, the monks Albertus Magnus andRoger Bacon built talking androids without any further development (Albertus Magnus complained that he had wasted forty years of his life when Thomas Aquinas, terrified by his machine, destroyed it).[10]
In 1642, the Renaissance saw the invention of the mechanical calculator,[11] a device that could perform all four arithmetic operations without relying on human intelligence.[12] The mechanical calculator was at the root of the development of computers in two separate ways. Initially, it was in trying to develop more powerful and more flexible calculators[13]

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