Development of Computers and Technology


Computers in some form are in almost everything these days. From
Toasters to Televisions, just about all electronic things has some form of
processor in them. This is a very large change from the way it used to be, when
a computer that would take up an entire room and weighed tons of pounds has the
same amount of power as a scientific calculator. The changes that computers
have undergone in the last 40 years have been colossal. So many things have
changed from the ENIAC that had very little power, and broke down once every 15
minutes and took another 15 minutes to repair, to our Pentium Pro 200\'s, and the
powerful Silicon Graphics Workstations, the core of the machine has stayed
basically the same. The only thing that has really changed in the processor is
the speed that it translates commands from 1\'s and 0\'s to data that actually
means something to a normal computer user. Just in the last few years,
computers have undergone major changes. PC users came from using MS-DOS and
Windows 3.1, to Windows 95, a whole new operating system. Computer speeds have
taken a huge increase as well, in 1995 when a normal computer was a 486
computer running at 33 MHz, to 1997 where a blazing fast Pentium (AKA 586)
running at 200 MHz plus. The next generation of processors is slated to come
out this year as well, being the next CPU from Intel, code named Merced, running
at 233 MHz, and up. Another major innovation has been the Internet. This is a
massive change to not only the computer world, but to the entire world as well.
The Internet has many different facets, ranging from newsgroups, where you can
choose almost any topic to discuss with a range of many other people, from
university professors, to professionals of the field of your choice, to the
average person, to IRC, where you can chat in real time to other people around
the world, to the World Wide Web, which is a mass of information networked from
places around the world. Nowadays, no matter where you look, computers are
somewhere, doing something.
Changes in computer hardware and software have taken great leaps and
jumps since the first video games and word processors. Video games started out
with a game called Pong...monochrome (2 colors, typically amber and black, or
green and black), you had 2 controller paddles, and the game resembled a slow
version of Air Hockey. The first word processors had their roots in MS-DOS,
these were not very sophisticated nor much better than a good typewriter at the
time. About the only benefits were the editing tools available with the word
processors. But, since these first two dinosaurs of software, they have gone
through some major changes. Video games are now placed in fully 3-D
environments and word processors now have the abilities to change grammar and
check your spelling.
Hardware has also undergone some fairly major changes. When computers
entered their 4th generation, with the 8088 processor, it was just a base
computer, with a massive processor, with little power, running at 3-4 MHz, and
there was no sound to speak of, other than blips and bleeps from an internal
speaker. Graphics cards were limited to two colors (monochrome), and RAM was
limited to 640k and less. By this time, though, computers had already undergone
massive changes. The first computers were massive beasts of things that weighed
thousands of pounds. The first computer was known as the ENIAC, it was the size
of a room, used punched cards as input and didn\'t have much more power than a
calculator. The reason for it being so large is that it used vacuum tubes to
process data. It also broke down very often...to the tune of once every fifteen
minutes, and then it would take 15 minutes to locate the problem and fix it.
This beast also used massive amount of power, and people used to joke that the
lights would dim in the city of origin whenever the computer was used.

The Early Days of Computers

The very first computer, in the roughest sense of the term, was the
abacus. Consisting of beads strung on wires, the abacus was the very first
desktop calculator. The first actual mechanical computer came from an
individual named Blaise Pascal, who built an adding machine based on gears and
wheels. This invention did not become improved significantly until a person
named Charles Babbage came along, who made a machine called the difference
engine. It is for this, that Babbage is known as the