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The Computer Pioneer Who Built Modern China


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Xia Peisu.

In April 1960, Chinas first home-grown electronic digital general purpose computer the Model 107 went live. Xia Peisu, the machines engineer and designer, had just made history.

Credit: Emmanuel Lafont

In April 1960, China's first home-grown electronic digital general purpose computer – the Model 107 – went live. Xia Peisu, the machine's engineer and designer, had just made history.

After decades of war with Japan and the Chinese Civil War in the first half of the 20th Century, the country's technological innovation had fallen behind much of the developed world. Later, caught in the politics of the Cold War, the newly established People's Republic of China was cut off from aid and exports from capitalist nations in the West. Chinese scientists relied heavily on hardware and expertise from the Soviet Union to build up their computing power.

But when that relationship dissolved in 1959, China was once again isolated and it had to look inward for a way forward in an increasingly computerised world. Within a year of the Soviet Union withdrawing aid, Xia delivered the 107 – China's first step on the road to independence in computing.

Today, China is a global leader in computer production. In 2011, China surpassed the US to become the world's leading market for PCs, and the desktop PC segment of their computer industry alone is projected to bring in a revenue of over $6.4bn (£4.9bn) this year.

 

From BBC.com
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