The Advancement Of Computers

The Advancement Of Computers

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Computers are one of the most important inventions ever. If computers had
not been invented, technology would not be developed to its current state.
Since the computers invention, society has changed drastically. Computer
technology is so helpful, that it is even used to create newer, better
computer equipment. Almost everything today is linked in some way, to
computers.
Before computers were invented, very little was known about outer space.
With the technology we have now, we are learning new things everyday.
Computers are used to follow the paths of asteroids and predict their future
movements. On 6 December 1997, a mile-wide asteroid was discovered by
astronomer Jim Scotti, a member in the University of Arizona's Spacewatch
group. He used a 77-year-old telescope along with an electric camera that
caught the asteroid on film. He then used a computer specially programmed
to look for objects moving against the background of fixed stars. The
computer worked so well that Scotti described the asteroid as "sticking out
like a sore thumb" (Jaroff 68). His information was relayed to Brian
Marsden, a Harvard

astronomer, to determine the course of the asteroid. After many
calculations, Marsden's computer showed the rock would pass Earth
approximately 600,000 miles away. This may not seem important, but if an
asteroid was on a line with Earth, the computer would show us and enable us
to deflect the projectile with nuclear power (Jaroff 69). Thus, computers
can even help save lives.
In "Spies in the Sky", Bill Sweetman writes about the use of satellites and
computers for spying on other countries. On 20 December 1996, three
computer operated satellites were released into orbit for use against Iraq.
Each one costs 800,000,000 dollars or more, most of which is spent on the
computer equipment needed to control them. When the radar data is received
from the satellite dish, it has low resolution and lacks clarity. Computer
texturing and imaging clear the pictures and even show objects that may be
hidden beneath sand, soil, or snow. When resolution was questioned by
critics, the American government produced a readable spy photo of a Russian
car's license plate (42-48).
Computers have also made communications easier than ever. Today, e-mail is
beginning to replace the ordinary post office and telephone as a way to keep
in touch. E-mail provides the best of both worlds; it is instantaneous and

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free. Before e-mail, one would have to send a letter that


would take days to arrive, or they would have to use the telephone, which
would cost money if the call was long distance. The Internet saves
businesses money because they do not have to send out catalogs to thousands
of customers (Internet World 48-51).
Automobiles have undergone several changes since computers were put in
them. Computers provide options like cruise control, traction control,
power steering, anti-lock brakes, and the use of fuel-injected engines. The
other options are nice, but fuel-injection is a vast improvement over the
older, caurberated engines. Fuel-injected engines give a car more power,
better gas mileage, and burn gasoline cleaner (Sherman 61-63). With the
help of computers, automobiles run faster, longer, and are safer to the
environment.
In the article, "The Big Bank Theory", Joshua Cooper Ramo writes that in
the not so distant future, the world's money system could have a major
change. It is possible in the next ten years that cash, credit cards, ATM
cards, ID cards, insurance cards, all information pertaining to one's
medical needs and the amount of money in your possession could all be on a
single electronic card(Time 50-51). Conceivably, this idea would make
things simpler than the current way of spending. Digital cash has many
advantages. Money could be sent over e-mail using a string of digits,


ending the need to balance a checkbook every month. Also, one could program
the money to be spent only on certain things. Only places with the same
encoded number as the consumer would allow people to spend their money
there. One other good thing about digital money would be it would continue
to collect interest up until the moment it is spent, instead of the instant
it leaves the bank. Perhaps the best feature of digital money is it could
end all money-based crime. Because the person could cancel their old number
and get a new one at anytime, it would be pointless to steal one's cash
card. It would be like robbing someone for a check. It is hard to imagine
how different things would be without cash theft.
Computers have revolutionized meteorology, allowing us to predict with good
accuracy how the weather will behave in the near future. They also allow us
a generalized prediction of changes in the climate farther down the road.
Some scientists think they have discovered reason to believe the polar ice
cap is going to melt soon. These scientists scraped up volcanic ash and
other debris from the land areas surrounding the ice and ran tests on it
with a computer. They seem to think that only three million years ago there
was a warm period and some of the cap melted off (Livermore 38-43). This is
totally different from conventional thinking which says the cap has been
there for fifteen million years.


If the ice cap were to melt, the face of the United States, and every other
coastal country in the world, would be altered.
Computer technology is so versatile that it is even used to improve future
computer parts. In 1982, chips were considered above average if they had
1,000,000 transistors; in 1998, chips are good if they have 7,000,000
transistors--constructed into strands only six nanometers wide, or fifteen
percent as thick as a human hair (Greenman 27). Amazingly, computer chips
are only about a square inch in mass. To demonstrate just how rapidly these
processors are developing, in January 1997 the fastest processor was 200
mega-hertz (unit for computer speed) for sale at 3399 dollars (Ziff 130).
By January 1998, one could buy a 333 mega-hertz computer for just under 2000
dollars (Ziff 169).
Another component of the computer that is growing with the times is sound
equipment. In the beginning, computers may not have needed speakers. The
only sounds they produced were beeps or some other little sounds for games
like Space Quarks. Now, a person can buy an assortment of speakers for
their home computers with subwoofers to increase the realism of sound
effects. It is even possible to get a jack that connects the computer to a
big home stereo system. It is relatively cheap to enhance a computer's
sound quality compared to other improvements that are made. One can buy

speakers and a subwoofer for less than 100 dollars (Ziff 175). Speakers are
not a necessity, but adding them brings a little excitement to what might
otherwise be a boring program. Soundcards combine with speakers to produce
sound. Without a good soundcard, the quality of sound is going to be bad no
matter how high the quality of the speaker may be. The soundcard is to
computer speakers what the receiver is to home speakers. Ten years ago, all
computers had poor soundcards and good ones were not available to consumers.
Today, there is a huge assortment of them on the shelves, most with 3-D
capabilities (Ziff 214).
The Internet, like it or not, is a very powerful business tool. Businesses
have recently discovered the art of finding helpful information for
generating--and exploiting--a competitive advantage. The Internet is an
easier, more cost effective way for businesses to gather insights on what
the public wants, and to make profitable decisions regarding their product
or service. As a marketing agent, the Internet is by far the cheapest
option. The only problem is companies have to make other advertisements to
show where their web address is located. One last good service the Internet
provides is the ability to order products online. This saves businesses
money that they would otherwise be spent producing and shipping catalogues
to thousands of customers (Internet World 48-51).


Until this decade, computer technology was non-existent in public school
systems. Donna Baumbach tells how today almost every school in the United
States has a computer lab available. Computers are valuable to schools for
many reasons. They are good for studying and research, if the sites are
indeed factual. Computers supply a way to type papers, they can be used for
business classes, and it can provide children with something they may enjoy
using. If students are interested in what they are doing, they will do it
better. Computers also enable classes such as drafting to be consistent
with the procedures used in today's architectural world. Using programs
like CADD and AutoCADD, drafting classes become much closer to real life
situations than they used to, when drawing on paper was the only way to
train students. Programs such as this are actually used at the job site
(Multimedia Schools 18). Computer programs are also very helpful to
business classes. Accounting classes and computer related fields of study
must have computers to be current with today's business. As with drafting,
accounting today is all computerized and it is necessary to familiarize
students to the functions of various programs if they are going to go into
one of those fields (Multimedia Schools 20).
In the article "Doctor's Advice", Cynthia N. James-Catalano writes of the
newest way to get medical treatment. The Internet is being used by doctors
and nurses

around the world as a medical advise bulletin board. One can stop by a
medical website without money or an appointment and receive prompt advice
for treating the symptoms of their condition. While these sites cannot take
the place of actual physical examinations, they provide a good second
opinion about one's illness or injury that
otherwise one would be wasting good money (30-32).
Computers might have done in the last century, more than any other
invention. It seems that the advancements that can be made to improve them
is never-ending. Thus, they are able to help us with many of the tasks that
confront us on a daily basis, and will no doubt continue to become more
useful to us all. The computer may never reach a pinnacle of strength, more
than likely they will continue to improve forever.
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