Computer is an electronic device that can receive a set of instructions called program and then carry out them. The modern world of high technology could not be possible without computers. Different types and sizes of computers find uses throughout our society. They are used for the storage and handling of data, secret governmental files, information about banking transactions and so on.
Computers have opened up a new era in manufacturing and they have enhanced modern communication systems. They are essential tools in almost every field of research, from constructing models of the universe to producing tomorrow's weather reports. Using of different databases and computer networks make available a great variety of information sources.
There are two main types of computers, analog and digital, although the term computer is often used to mean only the digital type, because this type of computer is widely used today. That is why I am going to tell you about digital computers.
Everything that a digital computer does is based on one operation: the ability to determine: on or off, high voltage or low voltage or ó in the case of numbers ó 0 or 1 or do-called binary code. The speed at which the computer performs this simple act is called computer speed. Computer speeds are measured in Hertz or cycles per second. A computer with a ęclock speedĽ of 2000 MHz is a fairly representative microcomputer today. It is capable of executing 2000 million discrete operations per second. Nowadays microcomputers can perform from 800 to over 3000 million operations per second and supercomputers used in research and defense applications attain speeds of many billions of cycles per second.
Digital computer speed and calculating power are further enhanced by the amount of data handled during each cycle. Except two main types of computers, analog and digital there are eight generations of digital computers or processing units. The first generation was represented by processing unit Intel 8086.
The second generation central processing unit was represented by processing unit Intel 80286, used in IBM PC AT 286. The third generation is Intel 80386, used in IBM PC AT 386. The microprocessors of the fourth generation were used in computers IBM PC AT 486. There are also central processing units of the fifth generation, used in Intel Pentium 60 and Intel Pentium 66, central processing units of the sixth generation, used in computers Intel Pentium 75, 90,100 and 133. Few years ago appeared central processing units of seventh and eighth generations. They are much more powerful and can perform from 2000 to over 3000 million operations per second.
TEXT 1. THE EARLY YEARS
(1) Until the late 1970s, the computer was viewed as a massive machine that was useful to big business and big government but not to the general public. Computers were too cumbersome and expensive for private use, and most people were intimidated by them. As technology advanced, this was changed by a distinctive group of engineers and entrepreneurs who rushed to improve the designs of then current technology and to find ways to make the computer attractive to more people. Although these innovators of computer technology were very different from each other, they had a common enthusiasm for technical innovation and the capacity to foresee the potential of computers. This was a very competitive and stressful time, and the only people who succeeded were the ones who were able to combine extraordinary engineering expertise with progressive business skills and an ability to foresee the needs of the future.
(2) Much of this activity was centered in the Silicon Valley in northern California where the first computer-related company had located in 1955. That company attracted thousands of related businesses, and the area became known as the technological capital of the world. Between 1981 and 1986, more than 1000 new technology-oriented businesses started there. At the busiest times, five or more, new companies started in a single week. The Silicon Valley attracted many risk-takers and gave them an opportunity to thrive in an atmosphere where creativity was expected and rewarded.
(3) Robert Noyce was a risk-taker who was successful both as an engineer and as an entrepreneur. The son of an Iowa minister, he was informal, genuine, and methodical. Even when he was running one of the most successful businesses in the Silicon Valley, he dressed informally and his office was an open cubicle that looked like everyone else's. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he started working for one of the first computer-related businesses in 1955. While working with these pioneers of computer engineering, he learned many things about computers and business management.
(4) As an engineer, he co-invented the integrated circuit, which was the basis for later computer design. This integrated circuit was less than an eighth of an inch square but had the same power as a transistor unit that was over 15 inches square or a vacuum tube Unit that was 6.5 feet square. As a businessman, Noyce co-founded Intel, one of the most successful companies in the Silicon Valley and the first company to introduce the microprocessor. The microprocessor chip became the heart of the computer, making it possible for a large computer system that once filled an entire room to be contained on a small chip that could be held in one's hand. The directors of Intel could not have anticipated the effects that the microprocessor would have on the world. It made possible the invention of the personal computer and eventually led to the birth of thousands of new businesses. Noyce's contributions to the development of the integrated circuit and the microprocessor earned him both wealth and fame before his death in 1990. In fact, many people consider his role to be one of the most significant in the Silicon Valley story.
(5) The two men who first introduced the personal computer (PC) to the marketplace had backgrounds unlike Robert Noyce's. They had neither prestigious university education nor experience in big business. Twenty-year-old Steven Jobs and twenty-four-year-old Stephen Wozniak were college' drop-outs who had collaborated on their first project as computer hobbiests in a local computer club. Built in the garage of Jobs's parents, this first personal computer utilized the technology of Noyce's integrated circuit. It was typewriter-sized, as powerful as a much larger computer, and inexpensive to build. To Wozniak the new machine was a gadget to share with other members of their computer club. To Jobs, however, it was a product with great marketing potential for homes and small businesses. To raise the $1300 needed to fill their first orders Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak sold his scientific calculator. Wozniak built and delivered the first order of 100 computers in ten days. Lacking funds, he was forced to use the least expensive materials, the fewest chips, and the most creative arrangement of components. Jobs and Wozniak soon had more orders than they could fill with their makeshift production line.
(6) Jobs and Wozniak brought different abilities to their venture: Wozniak was the technological wizard, and Jobs was the entrepreneur. Wozniak designed the first model, and Jobs devised its applications and attracted interest from investors and buyers. Wozniak once admitted that without Jobs he would never have considered selling the computer or known how to do it. "Steve didn't do one circuit, design or piece of code. He's not really been into computers, and to this day he has never gone through a computer manual. But it never crossed my mind to sell computers. It was Steve who said, 'Let's hold them up and sell a few.
(7) From the very beginning, Apple Computer had been sensitive to the needs of a general public that is intimidated by high technology. Jobs insisted that the computers be light, trim, and made in muted colors. He also insisted that the language used with the computers be "user-friendly" and that the operation be simple enough for the average person to learn in a few minutes. These features helped convince a skeptical public that the computer was practical for the home and small business. Jobs also introduced the idea of donating Apple Computers to thousands of California schools, thereby indirectly introducing his product into the homes of millions of students. Their second model, the Apple II, was the state-of-the-art PC in home and small business computers from 1977 to 1982. By 1983 the total company sales were almost $600 million, and it controlled 23 percent of the worldwide market in personal computers.
(8) As the computer industry began to reach into homes and small businesses around the world, the need for many new products for the personal computer began to emerge. Martin Alpert, the founder of Tecmar, Inc., was one of the first people to foresee this need. When IBM released its first personal computer in 1981, Alpert bought the first two models. He took them apart and worked twenty-four hours a day to find out how other products could be attached to them. After two weeks, he emerged with the first computer peripherals for the IBM PC, and he later became one of the most successful creators of personal computer peripherals. For example, he designed memory extenders that enabled the computer to store more information, and insert able boards that allowed people to use different keyboards while sharing the same printer. After 1981, Tecmar produced an average of one new product per week.
(9) Alpert had neither the technical training of Noyce nor the computer clubs of Jobs and Wozniak to encourage his interest in computer engineering. His parents were German refugees who worked in a factory and a bakery to pay for his college education. They insisted that he study medicine even though his interest was in electronics. Throughout medical school he studied electronics passionately but privately. He became a doctor, but practiced only part time while pursuing his preferred interest in electronics. His first electronics products were medical instruments that he built in his living room. His wife recognized the potential of his projects before he did, and enrolled in a graduate program in business management so she could run his electronics business successfully. Their annual sales reached $1 million, and they had 15 engineers working in their living room before they moved to a larger building in 1981. It wasn't until 1983 that Alpert stopped practicing medicine and gave his full attention to Tecmar. By 1984 Tecmar was valued at $150 million.
(10) Computer technology has opened a variety of opportunities for people who are creative risk-takers. Those who have been successful have been alert technologically, creatively, and financially. They have known when to use the help of other people and when to work alone. Whereas some have been immediately successful, others have gone unrewarded for their creative and financial investments; some failure is inevitable in an environment as competitive as the Silicon Valley. Rarely in history have so many people been so motivated to create. Many of them have been rewarded greatly with fame and fortune, and the world has benefited from this frenzy of innovation.
Computers: pro and cons
Now we are living in the technical world. We are surrounded by different technical inventions. One of these inventions is the computer. Many people canít imagine their life without the computer. Other people donít use computers because they are dangerous for our health. Which point of view is more preferable? As for me, I am quite sure that the computer is useful for people.
Now let me introduce my point of view. Firstly, the computer is the center of our life. We use computers to find necessary information and learn something. For example, we can learn different languages or learn how to play different musical instruments. Secondly, the computer is necessary for our job. Many corporations and companies, where you work or want to work, demand your knowledge of the computer. Thirdly, the computer is a means of peopleís communication. We can talk with our friends, whom we havenít seen for a long time, using different programs, such as Skype and ICQ. Also, we can make a lot of new friends with the help of the computer.
But there is another point of view. A lot of people are sure that the computer damages our health and intellect. For example, it is dangerous for our vision, and many people suffer from their obesity because they sit for a long time in front of the computer. Thatís why some people want to forbid computers. I donít agree with these people. Though, what I said above is true, you shouldnít sit in front of the computer all day long and visit doubtful Internet sites.
In conclusion I would like to stress that Iím for the computer because it helps us in many ways. And, of course, I agree that the problems connected with the computer are serious, and we should do everything possible to solve these problems.