Computers: Past, Present And Future

Computers: Past, Present And Future

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I have been using computers for as long as I can remember, whether it is for entertainment use or work use, computers are part of our everyday lives. They have an effect on almost everything you do. When you buy groceries at a supermarket, a computer is uesed with laser and barcode technology to scan the price of each item and present a total. Barcoding items (clothes, food and books ) requires a computer to generate the barcode labels and maintain the inventory. Most televison advertisiments and many films use graphics produced by a computer. In hospitals, bedide terminals connected to the hospital's main computer allow doctors to typw in orders for blood tests and to schedule operations. Banks use computers to lool after their customers' money. In libraries and bookshops, computers can help to find the book you want as quikly as possible. This has not always been the case though; computers did not always exist, and are continuously changing to this day. I think one group said it best,” Companies promote it for their employees. Parents demand it for their children. Those who have it believe they have a competitive edge. Those who don't have it seek it out. "It" is a computer. We are rapidly becoming a "computer society" Until recently computers were found only in environmentally controlled rooms behind locked doors. Only computer professionals dared enter these secured premises. In contrast today computers are found in millions of homes and just about every office. In fact there is a computer for one in every eight people in the world. Eventually all of us will have at least one computer and will use it every day for work and leisure.”

Role of Computers in the Past

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” –Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

First Generation
Almost everything invented or created, has one specific person who has been credited with their invention or creation, but this is not so with the computer. Many people throughout history have added their part to the computer. This could include programs to help the computer run better or faster, some created different kinds of computers, but either way they contributed to the computer we know today. The first “computer” was developed in 1936 by Konrad Zuse and was named Z1.

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It was not until the year 1942 that people actually started seeing the possible profit of computers. From then on, the uses of computers were being studied immensely, and inventors started to add programs and parts to improve what was already created. IBM was introduced in 1953, and forever changed the face of computers. This was not the most important breakthrough to come out though, in 1958 the chip or integrated circuit was created. Without this piece, the computer we know today would not be possible! Theses were all created in the first generation of computers; know as the vacuum tube years (1946-1958). First generation computers were characterized by the fact that operating instructions were made-to-order for the specific task for which the computer was to be used. Each computer had a different binary-coded program called a machine language that told it how to operate. This made the computer difficult to program and limited its versatility and speed. Other distinctive features of first generation computers were the use of the above mentioned vacuum tubes.

Second Generation
The second generation which is mainly characterized by the change from vacuum tubes to transistor technology also included many more pieces of the computer; including the original internet ARPA net which provided the base for the internet we know today, the floppy disk in 1959 allowing people to transfer their data to another unconnected computer and the mouse in 1964. Due to the creation of the transistor technology, we were able to shrink down the size of our computers and electronics because we no longer have to use the large vacuum tubes. Throughout the early 1960's, there were a number of commercially successful second generation computers used in business, universities, and government. They all contained every component we associate with the modern day computer: printers, tape storage, disk storage, memory, operating systems, and stored programs. An example of a second generation computer would be the IBM 1401, which was universally accepted throughout industry.
Third Generation
In the third generation of computers, the invention of the quartz rock, helped with the amount of heat created by transistors. We also saw the semi conductor and the use of operating systems join what we know as the computer.
Fourth Generation
By the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, computers were being produced for common use in homes. Microsoft entered the scene, creating MS-DOS an operating system that was easy enough for everyone to learn and changed the face of computers today! In direct competition with IBM's PC was Apple's Macintosh line, introduced in 1984. Notable for its user-friendly design, the Macintosh offered an operating system that allowed users to move screen icons instead of typing instructions. Since then, computers have been changing. New programs come out all the time, they are constantly creating new things for the computers we know today, and I am sure the fifth generation is on its way with something bigger and better!
The Present Roles of Computers

Home is where you hang your @. ~Author Unknown

As I said in the beginning, computers are part of our every day life. I use a computer everyday! Whether it is for school work, email, news information etc, I can turn it on and before you know it, I am emailing a friend back home, reading about the election, listening to music and instant messaging someone all at once. Computers are amazing and have made my life easier. Before I was so busy and constantly running in several directions at once, I used my computer to simply play games at times when I was bored. Computers are not just for working and studying, but also entertainment. Whether it be listening to Mp3’s, watching a movie, or catching up on my favorite TV show online, or playing games, the computer is a very important piece of technology that I along with most of the world have become very attached to. The world is at our fingertips, with just a click, the greatest advantage of this is connecting people around the world! Educationally, people who might not have been able to physically attend college can now get a degree by taking online classes, and teachers can feel more equipped to teach certain things, by researching them online, getting input from other teachers around the world and do it all from the comfort of his or her own home.
Computers and the Future

No matter how fast your computer
system runs, you will eventually come
to think of it as slow
- Unknown

For me, computers will continue to be a part of my everyday life. As I finish school, and head into a classroom to teach, I will for sure constantly be going to the computer to make my classroom a better place. I will not only use it for learning but for teaching, and for classroom management. It will most likely be my way to keep track of grades, assignment etc as it is now for many teachers.

What do teachers need to know to be a teacher of the future? Nicky Hockly and Gavin Dudeney, who run an online consultancy, suggest some of the following skills as being essential:

• Using a basic word processing program (such as Word) to make material
• Using email regularly, reading and deleting messages, sending, forwarding and replying to messages
• Knowing how to create a mailing list
• Knowing how to send and receive attachments
• Searching Internet resources effectively using search engines like Yahoo, Google and/or Lycos. Being able to evaluate the relevance of websites and the quality of information found
• Creating PowerPoint presentations that can be used to accompany a lesson
• Planning and delivering lessons for learners based on websites
• Using the Internet and other online resources for teaching materials and information related to the content of classes
• Knowing about and using a variety of WebQuests with students
• Knowing about and using the following Internet tools with students: blogs, synchronous chat, wikis, and intercultural email projects added the following to this list for future teachers which would be useful to know:

• Using computer data storage devices (CD-ROMs, USB drives, DVDs, etc.) to transport files and other data
• Downloading and using MP3 files
• Using an internet discussion board
• Using a scanner
• Installing a software package onto a computer
• Knowing how to protect your computer (if you have one) against viruses

Now, I know how to do a fair amount of what they have listed, but I have a lot of learning to still do, and as a future educator, I know that computers will play a vital role in all that I do in and out of the classroom.
"Remember when...? A computer was something on TV from a science fiction show. A window was something you hated to clean and RAM was the cousin of a goat... Meg was the name of my girlfriend and gig was your middle finger upright. Now they all mean different things and that really mega bytes. An application was for employment. A program was a TV show. A cursor used profanity. A keyboard was a piano. Memory was something that you lost with age. A CD was a bank account. And if you had a 3 1/2" floppy you hoped that nobody found out. Compress was something you did to the garbage not something you did to a file. And if you unzipped anything in public you'd be in jail for awhile. Log on was adding wood to the fire. Hard drive was a long trip on the road. A mouse pad was where a mouse lived and a backup happened to your commode. Cut you did with a pocket knife. Paste you did with glue. A web was a spider's home and a virus was the flu. I guess I'll stick to my pad and paper and the memory in my head. I hear nobody's been killed in a computer crash but when it happens they wish they were dead !"
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