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51 
The Evolution of Computing (continued) 
1900-1960  Many motor-driven calculators dominated the desktop computing market.  Major 
suppliers included Friden, Monroe and SCM/Marchant. 
Pre-1940’s  Before WWII, mechanical and electrical analog computers  
were considered “state of the art” and many thought they 
were the future of computing.  However, while working at  
Bell Labs in November 1937, George Stibitz invented and 
built a relay-based calculator that he dubbed the “Model K”  
(for the “kitchen table,” on which he had assembled it) that was the first to 
calculate using binary form.  He is internationally recognized as one of the fathers of 
the modern digital computer. 
1940’s 
The first mainframe computers appeared.  The fundamental difference between 
calculators and computers is that computers can be programmed to perform 
different tasks while calculators are pre-designed with specific functions built in. 
1945 
The US-built ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was the first 
electronic, general-purpose computer.  It combined the high speed of electronics 
with the ability to be programmed for complex problems.  It weighed 30 tons and 
contained over 18,000 values.  It was in almost constant use for the next 10 years.  
The simple strategy of never shutting it down reduced failures dramatically.  
1955 
From 1955 onwards, transistors replaced vacuum tubes in computer technology, 
giving rise to “second generation” computers. 
1957 
asio released the world’s first all-electric “compact” computer.  It fit into a desk. 
Location, Location, Location 
Realtors say it’s all about location, location, location.  In the case of the finance 
department, it was generally, “Here is the space available; can you make it work?”  In 
1989, the “department” consisted of three desks that were located within the County
Clerk’s office in Room 101 of what was then called “the courthouse” (currently 
referred to as the Government Center).   
The space limitations within the courthouse prohibited any significant movement of 
staff.  When the Finance Director was hired in 1996, the department co-located.  The 
director was placed in an office “down the hall.”  While the accommodations weren’t 
the most conducive to functionality, staff were still excited about the opportunities 
created with the new administrative structure.  The area was subsequently remodeled 
in 1990 to allow for an additional workstation to be placed in the “vault” and staff 
were located adjacent to each other. 
This office arrangement lasted until the department had the opportunity in 1999 to 
relocate to an area in the west wing of the Government Center.  This area had 
previously been occupied by the Sheriff’s office prior to their relocation to the new 
jail in 1995. 
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52 
Finance staff were told the new quarters 
were only “temporary” and that the 
building would be renovated once the 
decision was made on where to locate 
the new court facilities.  For those 
familiar with that debate, you will 
recognize that “temporary” means 
different things to different people.  
Regardless, staff were ecstatic with any 
additional space.  While not efficient in 
all regards, finance staff were still 
located in close proximity to those they 
worked with on a daily basis. 
Over the years, as additional 
responsibilities were transferred to the 
Finance Department, it meant that the 
department had to find a home for those 
individuals that transferred with them.  
It is fair to say that staff were a “close 
knit” group during their tenure in the 
west wing. 
In 2007, after 8 years in the 
“temporary” location, the Government 
Center underwent a significant 
remodeling.  In addition to the building 
mechanicals, departments were 
repositioned and the space vacated by 
the Clerk of Courts, District Attorney 
and Child Support was reallocated.  
Two departments, University of 
Wisconsin- Extension and Land Use 
and Resource Management, were 
relocated from the annex building  
(subsequently torn down) and took 
occupancy in the second floor of the 
Government Center.  The Finance 
Department was excited to be moving 
to a remodeled area located on the first 
floor near the main entrance.  Staff now 
have reasonable work space and 
sufficient high density storage to 
maintain all the paper records that 
people said were supposed to disappear 
with the advent of the computer.  May 
be that time is yet to come.  
The Evolution of Computing (continued) 
Post 1960 
The explosion in the use of 
computers began with “third-
generation” computers which 
utilized the invention of the 
integrated circuit (or microchip), 
which later led to the invention 
of the microprocessor. 
1961 
The Bell Punch/Sumlock 
Comptometer ANITA was the 
first all-electronic desktop 
calculator. 
1967
The first hand held calculator 
was developed by Texas 
Instruments.  It measured 4-1/4 
x 5-1/8 x 1-3/4 inches and 
produced a paper output tape.  
Early handheld calculators were 
very expensive.  The Sharp EL-8 
sold for $395.  
1970’s 
Through the 1970’s, the hand-
held electronic calculator 
underwent rapid development.  
The slide rule became obsolete.  
The spread of the computer put 
an end to the Comptometer.  
Pocket calculators, initially 
costing two or three weeks’ 
wages, became affordable.  
Prices for simple 4-function 
calculators dropped to a few 
dollars, about one twentieth of 
the cost five years before. 
21
st
Century   Multi-core CPUs became 
commercially available. Content- 
addressable memory 
(CAM) has become 
inexpensive enough to 
be used in networking.  
Computing has become a 
commodity which is now 
ubiquitous, embedded in 
many forms, from   
greeting cards and telephones to 
satellites.  To this day, the pace 
of development continues 
worldwide. 
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53 
The Future 
As indicated earlier in this document, “change is always just around the corner.”  We 
continue to evaluate the use of new technology within the department and within the 
county.  The evolution of scanners and software technology continue to give us hope 
that we truly can reduce the volume of paper that crosses our desks each day. 
Video technology has given us glimpses into how we might utilize it in the future for 
staff recruitment, staff training, meetings with consultants and community outreach. 
The increased use of electronic funds transfer and the ability to allow clients to use 
credit cards without exorbitant fees are all issues that are on the near horizon. 
What else is there?  Only time will tell.  
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54 
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55 
Health and  
Human Services 
Department 
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56 
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57 
58 
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