FOCUS DISCIPLINE ESSAYS
Jia Min Huang
Essay Topic: Trace the developments in the history of the computer
It's known that nothing epitomizes modern life better than the computers. They are now indispensable partners in people's lives. We use them to do almost everything: work, education, play, and also to order groceries. The computers are so popular, all because they are so useful and convenient. Today's computers have many functions. They don't only simply compute, but also calculate, store information, and are used to visit the Internet, send E-mail, type essays, listen to music, watch TV, and so on. However, computers didn't just come out perfectly in a single day. Their progress has taken hundreds of thousands of years.
About 5000 years ago, the abacus, considered by some to be the first computer, emerged in China. It was used to keep track of trading transactions. But as the use of paper and pencil spread, the abacus lost its importance. Then, nearly 12 centuries later, in 1642, a French boy Blaise Pascal, invented a brass rectangle box, called a pascaline. The invention used eight movable dials to add sums up to eight figures long. This invention led a German mathematician, Gottfried Wilhem Von Leibniz to create a machine that could also multiply. Furthermore, in 1820, Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar invented a mechanical calculator that could add, subtract, multiply and divide. He called this machine an arithometer, and it was widely used up until World War I.
However, the real beginning of the computer as we know it today came with the English Math professor Charles Babbage's steam-powered engine, which he called the Analytical Engine. The machine was supposed to solve any mathematical problem given it. Unfortunately, it was never constructed because of the lack of technology at that time.
The next step in the history of computer came in1889. An American inventor, Herman Hollerith was asked to compute the U.S. census. Before it had taken nearly 10 years to do the job. Hollerith thought of an idea to use perforated cards to store data which he fed into a machine that compiled the results mechanically. It was very successful. Hollerith only needed six weeks to finish the whole task. With the punch card, he later founded a company, known as IBM.
In the following years, many engineers made other significant advances. Recently, we entered the age of the modern computer. We can say that there are five generations of modern computers.
The first generation lasted from 1945 to 1956. Because of World War II, many computers were developed for the government to exploit their potential strategic importance. The most famous was in 1944 when an American engineer, Howard Aiken produced an all-electronic calculator, also known as Mark I. The machine could perform basic arithmetic as well as more complex equations. Regretfully, it was very large, slow and inflexible. Another development spurred by the war was Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, or ENIAC, developed by John Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchley. It was a general-purpose computer and 1,000 times faster than Mark I. In addition, in 1945, John Von Neuman designed the EDVAC with a memory to hold both stored programs as well as data. Moreover, Remington Rand's UNIVAC built in 1951, was one of the first commercially available computers to combine all the advances during that period.
In the second generation, 1956-1963, computers were of solid state design, and contained transistors in place of vacuum tubes. They also contained all the components we associate with the modern day computers: printers, tape storage, disk storage, memory operating systems, and stored programs.
The third generation made computers much smaller as more components were squeezed onto the chip and operating systems that allowed machines to run computer's memory came to be use. During the fourth generation, 1971 to present, computers became much more widespread, especially, after 1981, when IBM produced the first personal computer for use in the home, offices and schools. Today, more and more people use computers as tools to work or to communicate.
Finally, the fifth generation, is still developing. The computer field will continue to experience huge growth in computer networking, computer mail, electronic control. Distance education and powerful software will become more perfect and widespread. Moreover, advances in technologies will continue to produce cheaper and more powerful computers.
In conclusion, the appearance of the computer has promoted the world to an unprecedented level. Computers make people's lives much more colorful and convenient. As the technology improves, computer will play a more and more important role in the future.
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Chun Chung Cheung
Chun Chung Cheung
Essay Topic: Summarize the key or most important developments in the history of the computer
Using the computer has become a part of people's life, because the computer provides a lot of services and benefits to the people. The computer is an amazing invention. People use it to solve a lot of problems and do tedious work, such as complicated calculations, heavy paper work, and tabulating millions of records and data. Moreover, the computer can create many beautiful three-dimensional graphics in video games to entertain people. It really helps people to live their lives and do their jobs more efficiently and smoothly. Besides, today's computers run and perform better because computer experts have spent a long time developing and improving them.
In the old days, people invented machines such as the Abacus in order to help them in calculation. The abacus was the fundamental and early model for the computer. It was created about 2500 years ago in China. Basically, it was used to perform some calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Moreover, Stonehenge was constructed from more than nine hundred of stone rings in British Isles between 3000 and 1000 BC. It was used to predict solstices, equinoxes and solar calendar. By 1822, Charles Babbage, a mathematics professor, proposed the first mechanical machine to perform differential equations, called a Difference Engine. After ten years, he invented a new machine that he called the Analytical Engine. It used to perform mathematical operations and using punched card to record data. Although the Analytical Engine could not be made by the old technology, it outlined the basic elements of modern general computer and was a benefit to computer development.
In 1890 Herman Hollerith created a punch-card machine to store vast amounts of data for the United States Census. Actually, he applied the theory of the binary code developed by Basile Bouchon in 1725. Binary code is a basic computer data processing pattern. It consists of 0s and 1s in which used to make a permanent memory. Then, the first digital computer, Mark I, was invented. The creator was Howard H. Aiken who was a Harvard engineer working with IBM which was established by Herman Hollerith. Mark I made Charlie Babbage's dream of Analytical Engine came true. Afterward, many scientists and developers invented many high performance and smaller computers. They also developed the computer from something mechanical to something electronic.
Computer technology grew quickly in the modern age. It depended on the struggle and experiments of many scientists and computer experts. The first generation of modern computers was made of many vacuum tubes, capacitors and resistors. These computers were very big. In 1942, John P. Eckert and John W. Mauchly invented The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) which was built at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering. ENIAC was used to prepare firing and bombing tables for the U.S. Army and Navy. It weighed 30 tons, used more than 19000 vacuum tubes, 1500 relays and hundreds of thousands of resistors, capacitors, and inductors.
The second generation of computers was made of transistors. This was a great change in the computer's development because it meant that size and speed was smaller and faster. Moreover, the computer costs were reduced greatly. Higher levels of computer languages were developed, such as COBOL and FORTRAIN. It were used to write a sequence of instructions (a computer program) and then executed by the computer.
The third generation of computers was made up of integrated circuits. Experts put millions of transistors onto one small piece of chip-set, which could handle a million calculations in a second. Moreover, operating systems and different programs were developed to run on the computer.
The technology and knowledge progressed very fast. The fourth generation of computers was developed to be even smaller and more reliable. Now with the so-called desktop or personal computer, computer users could put the computer on their desk. Then experts developed the notebook computer that could be put into the briefcase. This was convenient for people who often travel in business. In the offices, staffs could communicate and share resources on the LAN (Local Area Network). They could access many computer devices from file servers and some specific servers, such as, printers, files, software, and backup services.
In addition, Internet access was developed and became very popular. In 1973, the U.S Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency performed a research project to test the technology of interlinking packet networks which it called the internetting project. Investigators used network protocols to make computers communicate one other. Actually, the Internet is comprised of thousands of interconnected computer networks from different countries and Internet service providers. The Internet allows people to use electronic mail (E-mail) to send messages to each other and to access more than a million web sites and homepages. Moreover, they are able to get a lot of different information and resources, for instance different categories of news, research reports, advertisements, new product information, and business resources. Some people use the Internet to manage their money in electronic banking; to complete a degree in on-line universities; to shop for products from electronic shops. The Internet has played a major role in computer development and during the decade of the 1990s.
The fifth generation of computers has made amazing development in Artificial Intelligence. AI makes the computer have a human thinking pattern and human-like intelligence because computer experts develop new programming languages that make the machines recognize the human voice. Computers or robots have abilities to learn and accumulate new knowledge like human beings do. These machines also can respond to the operator's commands and instructions. Moreover, voice recognition software allows us to use our voices to command the computer to work for us.
Finally, computer development has really made people's life more comfortable by reducing redundant work and increasing work performance. It affects our life in many ways. In the future, the computer will be even smaller and faster. Now the latest computers such as Pentium III and AMD K7, can perform at incredible speeds. In addition, wireless communication is becoming very popular. People can check e-mail and access the information superhighway from their mobile phone and car because most information and network signals are transmitted by satellites. As technology continuous to advance, people will be able to access the Internet and video conferencing on their watches.
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Essay Topic: Discuss how computer has changed education. How specifically is/can technology be used in classroom to improve learning and instruction?
The computer technology is advancing everyday and the computer’s presence is playing an important role in various fields. Today’s modern computer technology is playing a role in changing education. In one way or the other technology has improved the ways of learning, providing sources of information all around the world. The technological development has affected education in many different ways.
First of all, there has been a great change in the population of students. More and more adults have started going back to school to learn new skills, increase their knowledge and expand the skills they already have (Kasper, 2000). Because of the increasing population of students, more classrooms, professors, and double the numbers of campuses is required. This could cause a lot of expense and a shortage of instructional personnel. In addition, the number of learning hours would have to be doubled to meet the growing population.
Today, Internet courses are helping many people who cannot attend the classes for many reasons. Educational institutions nowadays are providing online courses because many students are working or taking care of family. These courses are more convenient and information is provided much faster. They are also less expensive in the sense that they attract a global market, so that once the product is available everywhere, it can be sold at an affordable price where anyone can buy it. Moreover, people save a lot of time by not traveling to the classes, waiting in the traffic. Money spent on gas and car maintenance is saved. In one sense or the other online courses save a lot of money as well as time. Education on the Internet helps students, especially foreign students through distance education. They do not have to travel from country to country to get education. Everything is under their hands or at the tip of their fingers.
Nowadays, almost every person owns a computer. The computer has become a daily need. People have access to the Internet anytime they want and from anywhere. Classrooms have computers and students can access the Internet from class. Each and every student can choose their level of course according to their level of knowledge. Furthermore, the access to the Internet solves many problems a student faces in the process of learning. They can discuss their problems or questions with their friends through email, by using chat rooms or the information provided on the Internet.
Although online courses have many advantages, they require special skills from students. Learning through the Internet is the best place for the people who do not rely on someone else’s interpretation of the information. The person who is an independent learner, able to think and solve their problems themselves, will benefit most from online courses. The Internet is the perfect source of education for someone who is able to switch between applications, and who knows how to search for and find the information they are looking for. The students using computers and their applications are made more familiar with the newest technology through the Internet, so that they could compete in the real world using it.
Moreover, if students are taking classes over the Internet, the teacher also needs to have some knowledge about the computer. The teacher must know how to operate the computer, how to get the correct information over the Internet. Some teachers today prefer a blackboard and chalk, but many teachers as well as professors have changed their classroom to a computer class. Almost everything, syllabus, class notes, practice exams or grades is on the Internet. “I put notes and practice exams on the web because it is an easy way to distribute a lot of material to individual students” says, Mike Nelson, an economics Professor (qtd. in Raines n.d). Like the students, the teachers of this century will need to become lifelong learners to keep up with technology.
Therefore, the computer technology today has wide usage in education. The Internet, online courses, sources of information help most people to solve many problems they face. The limitations of communication that exist between the teachers and the students in the face-to-face classroom have been solved through the Internet. The learning and teaching process is advancing day by day through this technology (Kasper, 2000).
Kasper, Loretta F. (2000). The Impact of Information Technology on 21st Century Education. Class handout reading, ESL 91 D01B Fall, 2000.
Raines, Elizabeth. (nd). Technological Advances Transform College Classes. The Batallion. Texas A&M University. [Online]. http://www.studentadvantage.com/article/0,1075,c4-i8-t0-a113672,00.html
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