When you hear about the word computer, what comes into your mind? Most probably, it’s that fancy gadget and what you can do with it. I will not lie to you. The first computers were not as fancy and functional as the ones we have today.
Computers have gone through massive revolutions over the years, and they continue getting better with time. We even expect them to be more efficient in the coming years.
Over the years, computers have revolutionized all aspects of life; shopping, business, education, to name but a few. I try to think about how life would be if we didn’t have computers. It would be hard. Now that we all know how important computers are let’s look into some of their fun facts.
- Computers have processors that store everything that helps them to function
- Computers have a fan to cool them since they get hot as they run
- The first computer weighed more than 27 tons
- The first mouse was wooden
- A person blinks less when using a computer
- The first computer programmer was a woman
- Computers hold 90% of the world’s currency
History of Computers
At first, computers were not made to play video games, watching movies, sending emails, and most of the things we use them for today. The abacus was probably the first computer to be invented in 500 BC. Made of beads and strings, and it was used for calculation purposes only.
In 1880, the U.S. population had risen significantly, and totaling census results was challenging. The government had to develop a solution for the problem, and that’s how the punch cards computer was invented. This computer was so big that it could fill up an entire room. The U.S. government was able to save $5million to calculate the results of the census. Herman Hollerith invented this computer, and it took three years to build it. Since then, there have been significant developments in the invention of computers.
The first generation of computers lasted from 1940-1955. Magnetic drums were used to make computer memories. During this period, machine language was invented to be used in computers.
Computers were very large and were only owned by government agencies, universities, and scientific research organizations. These computers were costly. They were also inefficient since they would produce a lot of heat when running, and the installations would fuse often.
This is the period between 1955-1964. The second generation of computers would see smaller computers that occupied less space and were more energy-efficient. Instead of using vacuum tubes for circuity like the first-generation computers, these used transistors.
These transistors produced less heat and were faster. High-level programming languages were used in running these computers. They were still expensive, but not like the first-generation computers.
In the third generation, which is from 1964-1971, the integrated circuit was developed. The computers in this generation were faster and less bulky. They would not occupy a whole room like the first and second-generation computers. These formed the basis of the computers we have today. Their invention made computers’ prices go down significantly, and many people would now afford them. Several programming languages were invented and used.
Fourth Generation Computers
This is the period between 1971-1980. In the 4th generation, microprocessors were invented. These computers used Very Large-Scale Integrated circuits and high-level languages. This allowed computers to be made for home use. These were even more compact, efficient, and reliable. The personal computers we use today are in the fourth-generation category.
Types of Computers
Supercomputers are the fastest and are very expensive. These are only used for complex scientific and engineering processes. These computers are very powerful. I don’t think anyone would need that kind of power to play music or even watch a movie. They are also huge and bulky. Supercomputers are used for functions like weather forecasting, space exploration, and nuclear testing.
Mainframe computers are the second most powerful computers. There is no much difference between a supercomputer and a mainframe computer. The only difference they have is that a supercomputer will focus on only one complex task at a time, while a mainframe computer will perform millions of tasks simultaneously. These computers are also very large, just like supercomputers. They are used for functions like data processing, banking, and insurance.
Minicomputers can be used by several people and are mostly used for conducting business transactions, database management, scientific and engineering computations. A minicomputer is less powerful than a mainframe computer and more powerful than a microcomputer.
Microcomputers are also known as personal computers, and they include desktops, laptops, netbooks, calculators, and smartphones. Microcomputers are mostly used for studying, entertainment, and application processing. These are not expensive and are portable, which makes them the most common type of computers.
Capabilities of Computers
Accuracy is the precision level of performing a task. Computers will give accurate results when fed with the correct data input. It is very hard for a computer to make mistakes. If given the wrong information, it will still process it. In this case, the user will be responsible for the mistake.
Computers are very versatile. A single computer can be used for different purposes such as entertainment, connecting to the internet, and doing calculations.
A computer is a high-speed device. It cannot be compared to the human mind. A computer will perform a task in a few seconds, while the human mind can perform a similar task within hours or even days.
Reliability is the level of dependence one can have when using a computer. Computers are very reliable, given that they can handle the same tasks repetitively, without getting fatigued. Almost every organization, government agency, or company relies on computers to run daily activities.
Computers are capable of storing complex data. They also make it easy to retrieve the data within a short period. Any data can be stored safely on a computer.
Benefits of Computers
Safe Data Storage
Computers will store massive data and keep it safe for future use. You can store several types of data in a computer like movies, eBooks, songs, and documents without the fear that they will get lost. A computer gives me the advantage of retrieving date whenever I want, just by the click of a mouse. You cannot compare it with a book where I have to peruse several pages to get information. Another great thing about them is that you can control who can access the data by using passwords.
With a computer, you can connect to the internet much easier. The internet allows you to communicate with people from different countries and share information through emails, video calls, and even social media. One incredible thing about the internet is that it is very fast. You can’t compare it with other communication channels such as sending letters, which can take up to months to reach the intended person, depending on their location. In short, the internet has made the world a global village.
Helps in Organization
How would life be if there were no computers? My personal computer allows me to store different data types in an organized manner to make them easy to retrieve later. Imagine if that data was stored in a book? It would take a century to retrieve information.
It is possible to make money by using a computer. There are lots of people who run online shops, do online tutoring and other activities that give them money. The good thing with using computers is that you can reach a greater audience, offer them services, and get paid. There are no geographical limitations.
Life would be so dull without entertainment. With my personal computer, I can listen to songs, watch movies and videos. The options are endless. I can also stream live to entertainment occasions with the help of an Internet connection and play video games. Gone are the days when people had to leave home to get entertained.
You can find tons of information that will contribute to your academic growth. You can access millions of books and documents to help you do your assignment or get more information about a particular topic. You can also find an online tutor to help you in your weak areas and improve your performance. Some schools around the world have also embraced online learning, reducing the need to attend schools physically.
As much as computers are valuable and efficient, they also have some limitations. For example, a computer cannot function if there is no data input.
It gives output depending on the input it is fed with.
The Future of Computers
Although we cannot know what will happen in the future, we can always predict by considering current trends in computing. By comparing today’s computers and their predecessors, we can see that modern computers are faster and smaller. We can predict the same for the future.
Maybe there will be another generation of computers, which will have impeccable features, some of which have never crossed our minds. Faster and probably smaller computers will be invented. These will make them more portable and improve the user’s experience. The only thing we can do is sit down and wait.