Computer Now And Then Essay, Research Paper
Computer Then and Now and Where they are Going
In modern times, the computer has been one of the most influential, if not the most influential pieces of electronics ever produced. The evolution of the modern computer has come a long way from the times it was first thought of and conceived, and with the advancements of today’s modern computers the opportunities seem to be endless. In the computer business each day brings new and more advance ideas in to reality and the potential for the modern computer are ever growing, but without the foundation of past ideas and machines, the computers of today may have been non existing. Therefore, to better understand the future of the computer one must take a look at its past and see how it has evolved in to the machine of today, and how it is going to continue to expand in its limitations.
One of the first major pioneers of the computer industry was a distinguished French mathematician and philosopher by the name of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) (Ceruzzi 28). In 1642 Pascal invented an adding machine, which was inspired by his father who was a tax collector and who needed a easier and more efficient way of keeping track of numbers (Ceruzzi 28). He invented the first machine of its kind; it was able to keep track of numbers accurately and efficiently. Pascal’s device inspired many other adding machines (Ceruzzi 29). Blaise Pascal with his adding machine was one of the starters of the computer revolution, by showing people that a machines can do the work of a humans mind.
A man by the name of Charles Xavier Thomas (1785-1870) took Pascal’s invention of the adding machine and turned it into and commercially successful calculating machine (Ceruzzi 30). He later went to Paris to help start up the insurance industry and found a real need of for a faster and more advanced machine. He came up with the Arithmometer, which he patented in 1820 (Ceruzzi 30). Thomas was the first one to successfully sell these type machines to a regular number of customers and was able to make steady improvements on them (Ceruzzi 32). There were many adding machines to follow and improvements were made to each one and they continued to grow in popularity, but all of these devices were still mechanical.
The next major progression in the computer industry was with the invention of electromechanical devices (Ceruzzi 43). Theses were devices in which electricity was used in order to perform a task; this was a great step from the adding machines of the past that used pulleys and weights to operate. Finally, electricity was harnessed to perform a specific task. The electromagnetic device began the revolution to modern computer more then any other inventions that were being purposed at its time.
A man by the name of Herman Hollerith, came along and almost single-handed advanced the movement of the computer to where it is today. When Herman graduated from college, he was hired on to the US census bureau (Lauckner 255). He became very interested in developing a machine for census tabulation during his first stay at the Census Bureau. He came up with the idea of using cards, called Hollerith Cards, with holes in them to punch, which in turn would record census data (Ceruzzi 46). He later received a contract from the US census bureau to conduct the tabulation of the 1890 census (Lauckner 255). Herman’s system was very successful and was able to accomplish the task of tabulating the census in a means that was unheard of for that time.
Hollerith soon started his own company in 1910 called the Tabulating Machine Company (Ceruzzi 48). His company then later merged with two other companies to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company. Then in 1924 that company, with the help of a successful sales executive changed its name to International Business Machines Company or IBM, which is one of the major leader of the computer market today.(Ceruzzi 50)
Over the next few years there were some majors inventions the swiftly progressed the movement of the computer. With the invention of resistors, transistors and vacuum tubes computer operators were able to control the flow of electricity to certain parts of the computer. The transistor was invented in 1947 and was not used widely in computer until the late 1950’s (Computers 20). Then in 1958 a man by the name of Jack Kilby while working for the Texas Instruments created the first resistor (Computers 21). During this time there were many massive computer projects going on being conducted by both private and public companies and organizations. One of the first major computer systems to be unveiled to the public was then ENIAC, or the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (Computers 12). Compared to the computer of today it was enormous, it was eighty feet long, three feet deep and weighed over 30 tons (Computers 13). All through the fifties and sixties, there was a stream of more advanced and smaller computer entering the market.
It was not until the 1970’s when there was a real conception for a computer in the home or in offices. It was two men by the name of Steven Jobs and Stephen Wozniak that developed a prototype called the Apple I, it supplied the user with a computer that was able to fit in the home (Computers 14). They soon found out that there was not a real need for a home based computer at that time, they later in 1977 came out with the Apple II. The Apple II seemed to become their real first successful commercially available machine (Computers 14). There then was an influx in the market of computers, and computers began to be seen as a real useful tool in the home and the market place.
Computers at that time were seen as being useful but not very practical for everyone to own, it was not until a man by the name of Bill Gates came along and revolutionized the computer business. Gates was able to write a computer language that was easy for the user to understand (Cohen 56). This language was called Dos, and it almost single handily moved the computer revolution into light speed. A user was able to perform many tasks with Gates’s computer language much easier and with greater speed then they were able to do in times past. This lead to a revolution in the software and programs industry, which in turn caused the hardware side of the business try to keep up (Cohen 59). Gates later went ahead and built a new platform to run over his Dos language and that was called Windows. Windows has become one of largest software packages ever sold in computer history. It makes the computer easy to use, so that the average lay person can even operate it. The vast majority of computers in today market run on this base program.
Now that we have looked at a brief history of the computer, it is best to understand how it works. A computer by definition is: a device which takes data in one form, uses it, and produces a different form of information which is related to (but not the same as) the original data (Lauckner 4). Also to understand how a computer works, it is best to understand what some of its basic concepts and components. The first major piece of computer is the hardware, which are the electronics and the associated mechanical parts of a computer (Lauckner 7). Computers hardware is all the physical devices, such as items like the monitor, keyboard, and others. The next major part of a computer is its software, which consists of instructions that control the hardware and causes a desired action to be performed (Lauckner 8). The software of the computer is all the instructions that the computer uses to perform a certain task. All the software is a base of instructions that the computer reads and uses to achieve the desired results. The computers use a system of ones and zeros to communicate this information. This type of code is called binary code and is used by the computer as electronic switches to control and manipulate data (Lauckner 8). Computer programs like to use this type of system because it is both cheap and very reliable.
To perform a task a computer must be able to store and retrieve data. You must start with the parts of the computer the receive the information or programs to be used, these are called the input units, this is the part of the computer that receives the information that you enter in to it (Lauckner 7). Then you have the parts of the computer that deal with the results of computation back to the user, and these are called the output units (Lauckner 7). The next important piece of the computer is the memory, which makes it possible for the computer to keep the programs and information ready and available. All of these computations are done in the central processing unit, or know as the CPU. This is the primary operation of your basic computer and shows how a computer use and processed the information that you send and receive from it.
Now that the basic operation of a computer system has been covered, it is time to look at some of the computers on the market today and the features that most of them have. The new trend in the computer industry is having a computer custom built to suit you individual needs. There are some major companies that are providing this service to customers, they are Gateway, Dell, and now you can even buy Apple directly from the factory.
The computers of today are much more advanced then those of the past. To better understand the computers of today you need to really dissect them and see what they are made of. The first item you need to look at when dealing with the modern computer is the memory. There are two main types of memory, the first one is RAM and then next is ROM. RAM stands for random-access memory and is the computer’s working memory, and is some times called read-and-write memory (Computers 18). The RAM chip in a computer only retains the data as long as the microprocessor needs it for the job at hand (Computers 19). Many people compare RAM memory to a blackboard, when the information is no longer needed it is discarded or wiped off. The second type of memory is ROM, which stands for read-only-memory. When the computer is turned on and begins to boot up it use the special instructions in this type of memory to run the program that are needed (Computers 19). The computers of today use both types of memory and generally, the more memory that the computer has the faster it is able to process and store data.
The next important feature of computers today is a modem. A modem is a device used to convert the output of a computer into a form suitable for transmission by a telephone line (Meadows 125). A modem is used primarily to connect a computer to the Internet of another computer. The normal computer of today contains a 56k modem. The modem transfers the information that is sent by the computer, which is in ones and zeros, into a type of information that can pass over a phone line (Meadows 65). The modem in turn transform that digital data sent from the computer in to a high and low note that can be sent. Modems are also important because they can be used to send information back and forth from one computer to another. Those just a few basic parts make up the computers of today.
We live in a society in which we can watch the computer industry grow right befor our eyes. There has been much advancement made in the last few years and we will continue to see many more. It is exciting to see how the computer begins to change to meet the needs of a new generation. To better understand this it is best to take a good look at the future of the computer and take a glismp at where it be going.
In a recent article in Smart Computing magazine the reader is introduced to the new Intel chip called the Pentium 4. In that article, it states that “the pc’s three most important components, RAM, CPU’s, are undergoing changes”. The user should expect dramatic improvement is the computer’s performance. It continues to talk about in the near future the new Pentium 4 chip will be released on to the market. The hopes for this chip are very high because it is said that it will be able to handle a computer with 2GHz of memory (Chips 46). The makers of this chip are hoping that it will improve the speed of the average computer dramatically, and increase the ability to perform multitasking, the using of one or more programs at the same time.
In recent years, the live of the average American have changed a great deal and this is from a phase in computer history called the “digital age”. The leader of this revolution has come in effect with the Internet and the expansion of e-commerce. The average American either is using the Internet or has some knowledge of how to use it. As cable and phone companies continue to expand high-speed cable modems and digital subscriber line Internet access (Petelle 57). In a recent report by eMarketer shows that a dial-up connection is still used for around 81.3% of all the user connection to the Internet (Petelle 57). The reason that this number means so much is that many users in today’s market are not utilizing the technology that is out there. In turn, you will see a large growth in the Internet access companies trying to sell to the user a faster and better way to connect to the Internet. Many phone companies are starting to sell bundled broadband services to it customers (Petelle 57). These services will include both their Internet connection fee, which will be most likely digital, and their basic telephone service. Therefore, there are special modems in the making that will be able to handle and accomplish this task of serving both the Internet and still allow the user to access his or her phone line at the same time. The Internet is going to be leader into what ever is going to come next in the future of the computer and will be the next real wave that computer will be designed for.
In a age where cell phones are everywhere and everyone seems to be on the move computer manafuctures have been able to take advantage of that. Not until recent months have palmsized and handheld computers really begin to sworm the market. With the invention of such items as palmpilots and notebook computers, there has been a desire to have a computer that can travel with the user and still be able to perform a vast number of tasks. The first area that needs to be looked at is the notebook and how it has become one of the crazes in recent days. No that notebook computers can almost perform the same tasks as a regular desktop computer it has been really sought after (Poor 30). Notebook makers have been able to combine many factors in the notebook that really attract the consumer. By using there size and working with different combinations of features they have been able to come up with notebooks that are both very reliable and affordable (Poor 32). Many notebook manufactures have also stared to design notebooks for certain fields and esceppily for photo editing (Poor 32). While the demands remain high for notebooks the companies have been able to meet the needs of the consumers and will continue meet their needs in the future.
The next big player of the computer future will be in the are of handhelds, which give the user a small, compact unit that can perform many tasks. They have become so popular because they meet the needs of consumers that are looking for some of the basic uses of a notebook but with out all the size and weight. Since the average handheld is only about the size of you average wallet it can be taken with you at all times and can be used for many daily tasks. Many companies have decided to continue to work or the speeds of the handhelds since they have become such a success (Denton 44). In about a year or so the manufactures will be coming out with a handheld that will be much faster and will be able to handle more data then those of today with a new processor that is in the works (Denton 44). This is one of the greatest revolutions in the computers future because it will be similar to a notebook but about a third the size.
Now that we have looked at the past and some of the history of the computer, one can have a better understanding of where it came from. When someone understands the past, they can look into the future and see a glimpse of where things are going because they know where they have been. Computers have revolutionized the age we live in and have done so much for us, if it was not for computers many of use would not be here today. The future of computers only offers more hope in many areas of life and will change the future in drastic ways.