People have been processing data and information in some form since prehistoric times. However, it was the development to the computer that recently revolutionized information processing. Since the first generation of computers were built, the subsequent three computer generations have produced smaller, more powerful, and less expensive machines – mostly as the result of the development of the integrated circuit.
Prehistoric cave dwellers painted pictures on the walls of their caves, and ancient Egyptians wrote on a crude form of paper called papyrus. Around 3000 B.C., the Sumerians created a device for representing numbers that consisted of a box containing stones. About 2000 years later, in 1000 B.C., the Chinese took that idea one step further when they strung stones on threads in a wooden frame. The Chinese device was named after their word for box, baccus. The abacus, as we know it, remains in wide use and is still considered a powerful tool for performing mathematical computations.
In the year 1946, the first large-scale electronic computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), became operational. It contained approximately 18,000 electronic vacuum tubes – the size of light bulbs – the controlled the flow of electric current.
We’ve passed through four generations technology of computer. First, the punched cards and magnetic tape were use for input and output media. Second, transistors and some other solid-state devices came out that were much smaller were used in the computer circuitry.
Third, the usage of integrated circuit – a complete electronic circuit that packages transistors and other electronic components on a small silicon chip – replaced traditional transistorized circuitry. Lastly, circuits were developed that contained hundreds to millions of transistors on a tiny chip.
During this time, computers main memory capacity increased, which directly affected the types and usefulness of software that could be used. Just boot your operating system and your computer will load. The equivalent term for “boot” is “initial program load” (IPL) and for “reboot” is “re-IPL. The net effect of the tremendous increase in processing power provided by the computer is the more date can be processed faster than ever before. This means that all the information you need to make decisions is quickly available.
The power of the computer has grown so much that it can often generate more information than people can effectively deal with at one time. Indeed, in this society, knowledge is the primary resource for individuals and for the economy overall. As a result, we must be selective about the type of date and information we process.