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Introduction

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Since the dawn of the computing era, manufacturers and consumers of technology have strived to make things smaller. And though it may have seemed a pipe dream to the early pioneers, it’s amazing to look back and see how far we’ve come.

From the immense complexity and size of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine in the 19th century and Alan Turing’s Bombe code breaking machine in World War II, our computers have progressed beyond recognition. Cogs and gears gave way to vacuum tubes and then transistors took over. Finally, the silicon chip arrived and enabled computers to become more powerful and far smaller than anyone had ever imagined.
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Charles Babbage's Difference Engine.
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The modern laptop is the zenith of this achievement. Recent developments in mobile processors – Intel’s dual core processors in particular – have meant we can have elegant mobile computers that last for hours rather than minutes per charge, that can do almost everything their desktop cousins can. We now have mobile computers that you can use to edit video, play DVDs, rip CDs and develop software on – something that would have been a fantasy only a decade ago.
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A replica of Alan Turing's Bombe code breaker.
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But it wasn’t always this way. The road to (near) parity with desktop machines has been a long and bumpy one – a minefield of technological potholes and development dead-ends…

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