History of the Computer – Computers and Technology

The volume and use of computers in the world are so great, they have become difficult to ignore anymore. Computers appear to us in so many ways that many times, we fail to see them as they actually are. People associated with a computer when they purchased their morning coffee at the vending machine. As they drove themselves to work, the traffic lights that so often hampered us are controlled by computers in an attempt to speed the journey. Accept it or not, the computer has invaded our life.

The origins and roots of computers started out as many other inventions and technologies have in the past. They evolved from a relatively simple idea or plan designed to help perform functions easier and quicker. The first basic type of computers were designed to do just that; compute!. They performed basic math functions such as multiplication and division and displayed the results in a variety of methods. Some computers displayed results in a binary representation of electronic lamps. Binary denotes using only ones and zeros thus, lit lamps represented ones and unlit lamps represented zeros. The irony of this is that people needed to perform another mathematical function to translate binary to decimal to make it readable to the user.

One of the first computers was called ENIAC. It was a huge, monstrous size nearly that of a standard railroad car. It contained electronic tubes, heavy gauge wiring, angle-iron, and knife switches just to name a few of the components. It has become difficult to believe that computers have evolved into suitcase sized micro-computers of the 1990′s.

Computers eventually evolved into less archaic looking devices near the end of the 1960′s. Their size had been reduced to that of a small automobile and they were processing segments of information at faster rates than older models. Most computers at this time were termed “mainframes” due to the fact that many computers were linked together to perform a given function. The primary user of these types of computers were military agencies and large corporations such as Bell, AT&T, General Electric, and Boeing. Organizations such as these had the funds to afford such technologies. However, operation of these computers required extensive intelligence and manpower resources. The average person could not have fathomed trying to operate and use these million dollar processors.

The United States was attributed the title of pioneering the computer. It was not until the early 1970′s that nations such as Japan and the United Kingdom started utilizing technology of their own for the development of the computer. This resulted in newer components and smaller sized computers. The use and operation of computers had developed into a form that people of average intelligence could handle and manipulate without to much ado. When the economies of other nations started to compete with the United States, the computer industry expanded at a great rate. Prices dropped dramatically and computers became more affordable to the average household.

Like the invention of the wheel, the computer is here to stay.The operation and use of computers in our present era of the 1990′s has become so easy and simple that perhaps we may have taken too much for granted. Almost everything of use in society requires some form of training or education. Many people say that the predecessor to the computer was the typewriter. The typewriter definitely required training and experience in order to operate it at a usable and efficient level. Children are being taught basic computer skills in the classroom in order to prepare them for the future evolution of the computer age.

The history of computers started out about 2000 years ago, at the birth of the abacus, a wooden rack holding two horizontal wires with beads strung on them. When these beads are moved around, according to programming rules memorized by the user, all regular arithmetic problems can be done. Another important invention around the same time was the Astrolabe, used for navigation.

Blaise Pascal is usually credited for building the first digital computer in 1642. It added numbers entered with dials and was made to help his father, a tax collector. In 1671, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz invented a computer that was built in 1694. It could add, and, after changing some things around, multiply. Leibnitz invented a special stopped gear mechanism for introducing the addend digits, and this is still being used.

The prototypes made by Pascal and Leibnitz were not used in many places, and considered weird until a little more than a century later, when Thomas of Colmar (A.K.A. Charles Xavier Thomas) created the first successful mechanical calculator that could add, subtract, multiply, and divide. A lot of improved desktop calculators by many inventors followed, so that by about 1890, the range of improvements included: Accumulation of partial results, storage and automatic reentry of past results (A memory function), and printing of the results. Each of these required manual installation. These improvements were mainly made for commercial users, and not for the needs of science.

While Thomas of Colmar was developing the desktop calculator, a series of very interesting developments in computers was started in Cambridge, England, by Charles Babbage (of which the computer store “Babbages” is named), a mathematics professor. In 1812, Babbage realized that many long calculations, especially those needed to make mathematical tables, were really a series of predictable actions that were constantly repeated. From this he suspected that it should be possible to do these automatically. He began to design an automatic mechanical calculating machine, which he called a difference engine. By 1822, he had a working model to demonstrate. Financial help from the British Government was attained and Babbage started fabrication of a difference engine in 1823. It was intended to be steam powered and fully automatic, including the printing of the resulting tables, and commanded by a fixed instruction program.

The difference engine, although having limited adaptability and applicability, was really a great advance. Babbage continued to work on it for the next 10 years, but in 1833 he lost interest because he thought he had a better idea; the construction of what would now be called a general purpose, fully program-controlled, automatic mechanical digital computer. Babbage called this idea an Analytical Engine. The ideas of this design showed a lot of foresight, although this couldn’t be appreciated until a full century later.

The plans for this engine required an identical decimal computer operating on numbers of 50 decimal digits (or words) and having a storage capacity (memory) of 1,000 such digits. The built-in operations were supposed to include everything that a modern general – purpose computer would need, even the all important Conditional Control Transfer Capability that would allow commands to be executed in any order, not just the order in which they were programmed.

As people can see, it took quite a large amount of intelligence and fortitude to come to the 1990′s style and use of computers. People have assumed that computers are a natural development in society and take them for granted. Just as people have learned to drive an automobile, it also takes skill and learning to utilize a computer.

Computers in society have become difficult to understand. Exactly what they consisted of and what actions they performed were highly dependent upon the type of computer. To say a person had a typical computer doesn’t necessarily narrow down just what the capabilities of that computer was. Computer styles and types covered so many different functions and actions, that it was difficult to name them all. The original computers of the 1940′s were easy to define their purpose when they were first invented. They primarily performed mathematical functions many times faster than any person could have calculated. However, the evolution of the computer had created many styles and types that were greatly dependent on a well defined purpose.

The computers of the 1990′s roughly fell into three groups consisting of mainframes, networking units, and personal computers. Mainframe computers were extremely large sized modules and had the capabilities of processing and storing massive amounts of data in the form of numbers and words. Mainframes were the first types of computers developed in the 1940′s. Users of these types of computers ranged from banking firms, large corporations and government agencies. They usually were very expensive in cost but designed to last at least five to ten years. They also required well educated and experienced manpower to be operated and maintained. Larry Wulforst, in his book Breakthrough to the Computer Age, describes the old mainframes of the 1940′s compared to those of the 1990′s by speculating, “…the contrast to the sound of the sputtering motor powering the first flights of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk and the roar of the mighty engines on a Cape Canaveral launching pad”. End of part one.

Computers and Technology: Shop for Insurance Responsibly

Today’s advancements in computers and technology make many tasks easier than they were years ago. Computers and technology aid us in our personal lives as well as professional lives. Most young people probably can’t imagine a world without computers and technology, and most older people probably can’t imagine going back to that world. Thanks to computers and technology, we work online, we play online – we do just about everything online!

A popular trend today is the act of purchasing insurance policies online. Health insurance, life insurance, automobile insurance – you name an insurance, and it can probably be purchased online thanks to computers and technology. This is a great convenience for some folks. Think about it: who wants to make a detour on their commute home from a long day of work to talk with an insurance agent about purchasing an insurance policy? Wouldn’t most people rather go home to spend time with their families and relax before the next day begins?

While computers and technology make it much easier to spend more time enjoying these kinds of leisurely activities, they also make it much easier for us to lose connection with real people. By purchasing insurance online, you’re saving time and effort, but you’re also losing the important, yet overlooked, benefit of speaking with an insurance agent one-on-one, face-to-face. At the very most, the only human interaction you’re going to have by purchasing insurance online is speaking with a representative over the phone.

This isn’t to say that you should avoid the perks of today’s computers and technology, such as purchasing insurance online; however, you should make sure you have the chance to get some one-on-one time with an insurance agent – even if that one-on-one time is only over the phone. Rather than the conversation consisting solely of a brief synopsis of the coverage and your credit card number, ask specific questions, and make sure to get thoroughly detailed answers.

How To Keep Up To Date On Computers And Technology With Articles

Reading articles online, written by people who know what they are talking about, is perhaps the best way to stay up to date on any subject, especially computers and new technology.

With computer components getting faster and more demanding everyday, it’s a wonder that anybody ever has an up to date computer. And technology as a whole is moving at such incredible speeds, every day is literally the most advanced human beings have ever been.

So with this in mind, you probably wonder how you can stay completely up to date on it all, while still learning about current technology. The fact is, basically in the field of technology you have to learn and practice at the same time.

How to Find Great Articles on Computers

Using the search engines to find information is something just about everybody does, but usually a search returns somewhat old information and pages with the information you are looking for scattered all over.

The best way to find high quality articles and article directories that have very informative information is to put the word “articles” along with your search term. This way the search results that you get back will most likely be just articles and article directories that have related information to the rest of your search term.

Staying up to Date on Current Technology

While you can use the same method as I stated above to find computer information and articles, you can do the same with technology information. The problem with that though is you can never really be sure the author knows what they are talking about.

Usually at the end of an article there is a resource box with a link to the author’s website, but even then it is still hard to tell who knows what they are talking about.

What I do is usually one of two things. I double check what I am reading by searching for the same words on the search engines, and see if other authors say the same thing or not.

You can also use highly popular, but also ever changing, social voting news websites, like Digg or StumbleUpon. Do a search for those websites, and when you visit them you will see that other members like you can vote on information and articles that they know or believe to be true.

While sometimes people can be deceived and false information gets posted, it is much less often then regular websites owned and operated by Joe Anonymous.

So in a nutshell, the best way to stay up to date on computers and technology is to use the search engines, and continue to use websites that you know to be truthful, at least for the most part.

Why Companies Should Consider Leasing Computers and Technology

Many companies are not aware of the significant benefits related to acquisition financing in computers and technology segments. The proper term for this type of financing is ‘ Technology lifecycle management ‘. Most business owners simply consider the following question: ‘Should I buy or lease my firms new computers and software and related products and services?’

Two old adages related to leasing still ring true when it comes to the technological aspect. That is that one should finance something and depreciates, and one should buy something that appreciates in value. Most business owners, and consumers as well know very well that computers depreciate in value. Systems we paid thousands of dollars for years ago are now hundreds of dollars. Walk into any ‘ big box ‘ retailer and see the dramatic moves in technology.

Business owners who finance technology demonstrate a higher level of cost effectiveness. The company wants to reap the benefits of the technology over the useful life of the asset, and, importantly, more evenly match the cash outflows with the benefits. Leasing and financing your technology allows you to stay ahead of the technology curve; that is to say you are always using the latest technology as it relates to your firms needs.

Businesses that lease and finance their technology needs are often working better within their capital budgets. Simply speaking they can buy more and buy smarter. Many companies that are larger in size have balance sheet issues and ROA (return on assets) issues that are compelling. They must stay within bank credit covenants and are measure often on their ability to generate income on the total level of assets being deployed in the company.

Lease financing allows those firms to address both of those issues. Companies can choose to employ an ‘ operating lease ‘ structure for their technology financing. This is more prevalent in larger firms, but works almost equally as well in small organizations. Operating leases are ‘ off balance sheet ‘. The firm adopts the stance of using technology, not owning technology. The lessor/lender owns the equipment, and has a stake in the residual value of the technology. The main benefit for the company is that the debt associated with the technology acquisition is not directly held on the balance sheet. This optimizes debt levels and profitability ratios.

At the end of those operating leases, which are usually 36 months long, the customer has the option of:

1. Returning the equipment
2. Buying the equipment ( not likely though )
3. Negotiating an extension of the financing for continued use of the computers, technology, etc.

Companies that have recently acquired computers and technology can in fact negotiate a’ sale leaseback ‘ on those same assets. This financing strategy brings cash back into the company, as the firm has employed a leasing and financing strategy building on our above noted them – using technology, not owning technology.

In summary, the key benefits of computer and technology lease financing are:

* The company can stay ahead of the technology curve
* Computer leasing and financing has significant balance sheet and income statement benefits
* The firm has flexibility with respect to buying new product, returning existing technology, and generating cash flow for purchases already made

Many of the benefits we have discussed relate to leasing in general. However, technology and lease financing are very perfectly suited to the business financing strategy of leasing.