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"By opting for a movable date, little did the Nicene council realize the task it had set. Anyone with a basic knowledge of calendrics will tell you that determining the date of Easter is no trivial matter. One of the first persons to have possessed a thorough knowledge of time and the calendar was the Scythian monk Dionysius Exiguus who, in 525, was instructed by Pope John I to determine the date of Easter for the following year. Although in Pascal's time some persons were already given the title of computist or calculator, the era of the human computers may be considered to have truly begun when groups of people began to collaborate on lengthy computational problems. By the late 1700s, it was becoming apparent that the numerical solutions to some of these mathematical problems could not possibly be completed by one person in a realistic time frame, although the task could be achieved if the problem was appropriately prepared, broken down, and given to several people to work on."

- "The Calculation of Easter Day, and the Origin and Use of the Word ‘Computer' ," Mario Aloisio, University of Malta, as published in the July-September 2004 issue of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE Computer Society.


File Name: mario_aloisio200409 (6,424 words)

Post Date: September 11, 2004 2:45 PM CDT; 1945 GMT