Chi 1
Dong 1
Dong 2
Chi 2

Chi Wing Tsang
ESL 91
Spring, 2000

Essay Topic: Summarize the history of the computer. Explain the various stages in the development of the computer from its beginnings to the present day.

Nowadays, the computer has become essential to everyone; nearly every family has their own computer. But, have you ever thought about where the first computer came from or what the first computer looked like. Many people were involved in the history of the computer. No one individually invent the computer; it is the product of many people's invention. You will feel amazed that the first computer came from many hundreds of thousands years ago.

It is generally accepted that Stonehenge and the Abacus were the pioneers of the first computer. However, some people believe that the binary code invented in 1725 by a mathematician named Basile Bouchon is the real ancestor of the computer. The binary code is a string of zeros and ones and it is used for the basic systems of the computers. In the year 1800, Joseph Marie Jacquard followed the rule of the binary code and used a kind of punch card to allow female tailors to sew more complicated dresses. These punch cards were also considered to be the precursors of the modern computer.

In the late 1800ís, another mathematician named Charles Babbage invented the Analytical Engine. He wanted it to solve many mathematical problems but he failed. It is because the technology in his time was not enough for him to do so.

In 1890, a man called Herman Hollerith was issued the task of finishing the Census. The Census takes place every ten years. It is used for gathering information about the population and economic development. The government uses this information to decide what plans to put into action for the country. Hollerith used key punch cards based on the rule of Jacquardís punch cards to store the information received from the public. Later on, Hollerith established the company International Business Machines (IBM), which is well known as a modern computer manufacturer.

Because of the need for computers in wartime, Vannevar Bush, an American developed the first analog computer in 1930. In 1944, a professor called Howard Aiken developed the first digital computer. This computer specialized in solving a long list of mathematical problems in a shorter time and it is exactly what Charles Babbage had wanted in his Analytical Engine.

In 1946, a revolutionary computer called Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was built by two scientists, J.Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchley. It was the first all- electronic digital computer, which could calculate 5000 additions in a second. However ENIAC had a lot of problems. The problems were the size and the weight that occupied a lot of space and was not easy to move around. One year later, the science of the computer was improved when John von Newmann started keeping instructions in the computerís memory. Many people were involved in the history of the computer, therefore, no one individually invent the computer; it is the product of many peopleís invention.

We can divide the evolution of the modern computer into five categories. First of all, in 1950, the computer armed with vacuum tubes could calculate thousands of additions a second. Secondly, in 1960, the vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors and the computer was ten times faster than before. Then, in 1965, the speed of calculation was raised to a million in a second. The final two generations are continuing to the present. The use of silicon chips minimized the size of the computer and could be mass produced. These newer computers could perform 50 folds faster than the third generationís computer and complete and store millions of commands per second.

In the 2000ís, the computer is becoming more advanced than before. A notebook armed with a 550MHz Pentium 3 processor only weighs 3 pounds and measures 1.5 cm in thickness. We use LCD monitors to replace traditional CRT monitors, CD recorders or CD rewriters to replace the floppy drives and also we use a Windows system instead of DOS. All these are enormous changes and the scientists still want to make improvements. Nowadays, scientists are developing the use of artificial intelligence. This makes a computer that can make its own decisions and can do something like a human being. These computers can solve many complicated problems if complex programs are installed on them.

Generally speaking, computers have evolved very quickly in the past ten years and we will have 1.5 GHz Pentium 3 processors by the end of the year 2000. No one can predict what will come with the next generation of the computer, but we can know its past and the evolution of the modern computers.

Dong Pan
ESL 91
Spring, 2000

Essay Topic: Summarize the history of the computer. Explain the various stages in the development of the computer from its beginnings to the present day.

The computer is a modern form of technology, which has become very important for todayís world. People depend on the computer very much.The invention of computer has helped our life to become easier and faster.People spend less and less time on their job.The invention of the computer has a long and complex history probably dating back many hundreds of thousands of years.

We may consider Stonehenge and the Abacus to be the first computers. Stonehenge and the Abacus were the first time that humans used tools for counting numbers. The construction of Stonehenge and the Abacus were very simple and their functions were limited.Then in 1725, a mathematician named Basile Bouchon invented the Binary Code, which allows computer to do more complicated job.Seventy-five years after his great invention, there was a man named Joseph Marie Jacquard who used Basileís invention to run the machine.He inserted the Binary Code into the Punch Card, which allowed the machine to do more complex jobs.In 1890, another mathematician named Charles Babbage invented the Analytical Engine; he wanted this machine to help him to solve all math problems.He failed because of the lack of technology during that time.At the same time, Herman Hollerith was given the job to complete the task of the 1890 United States Census.Because the task was so big and complicated, his used the Punch Cards to save his work, which made his job very successful.He also became the founder of International Business Machines (IBM).

Wartime created many heroes in the development of the computer.The army of the United States asked Vannevar Bush to build a machine that could be used during wartime.Bush created a machine named the Analog computer, which helped the army to aim guns.In 1944, Professor Howard Aiken invented the digital computer, which could solve math problems at a very fast rate.In 1946, the scientists J. Persper Eckert and John W. Mauchley were also appointed by the United States government to develop a computer that could be used during the wartime.As the result, they invented the first all-electronic digital computer named Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC).ENIAC could save 200 digits.Although ENIAC was the first modern computer, it was very big and complicated.ENIAC could save 200 digits.Because ENIAC was too big, it was replaced by computer powered by transistors.The transistor was much smaller, faster, and cheaper than the vacuum tube what powered ENIAC.

Nothing can satisfy scientists.They always want more and more, always want to create and invent something new, and always like to dream, to think, and to imagine.As a result, Newman developed the idea of keeping the instructions for the computer inside the computerís memory.

We are now in the time of the modern computer revolution.The modern computer revolution started in 1950, after the invention of ENIAC.The transistor invented in 1960 that shrunk the size of the computer, and it was much smaller and faster than ENIAC.By 1965, computers were controlled by tiny Integrated Circuits, which could do a million calculations per second, and they also were more dependable than earlier computers.During 1971, computers were characterized by microminiaturization, which began with the development of the Silicon Chip.From the 1970ís to the present computers has been controlled by Silicon Chips that are much faster than either ENIAC vacuum tubes or the transistor.

As we can see, one person did not invent the computer. As the technology of the computer has advanced, people have been able do more and more things on the computer.†† We should thank those scientists who worked so hard to invent, and improve the computer. One day, the computer may perform just like a human being.

Dong Pan
ESL 91
Spring, 2000

Essay Topic: How has Distance Education changed the way students study and learn?

The computer is the greatest invention in human history.Imagine what the world would be like without the computer, and think how many things we can do with the computer.One of the things we can do is to learn at a distance so that when a teacher and student are separated by physical distance, the physical classroom is replaced by a computer or video.Distance Education programs can provide adults with a second chance at a college education and reach those disadvantages by limited time.

In face, people learn and absorb faster when they things interesting.Computer makes studying more student centered.When they use a computer to learn, they need to fund and discover materials by themselves instead of teachers simply putting things, which are not always interesting into their brain.Most people, especially children and students get very motivated and excited when they play with programs on the computer.

Also, Distance Education has no limitation, which means people form all over the world can be in the same class without physically knowing each other.Interaction with people from other culture makes a student become more knowledgeable and understanding of other cultures and some old traditional behaviors.With Distance Education, students open their minds to receive and absorb things from everywhere.That will never happen if they are limited to just sitting in the classes and reading the textbooks.

Many people want to study, but they only have limited time.People need to work to support their family; people need to take care of their family.Some people are old, and they donít have time to come to the school.What should they do?Distance Education provides a great opportunity for them.†† They can just stay home, take care of their family on the one hand, and study with the other hand.Elders can just sit in the chair and play with their computer.Isnít that great for them!

I was sick on Thursday, but I could still take my class at home, why?Because I have the Internet at home and one of my classes has Distance Education.On that day, students go online to do their work and find the needed materials for their class.So, I went online, I found them, and I worked with them.In addition to being useful for students, the computer can be used by the teacher as a tool for grade databases, lecture slides, letters to parents, communication with other teachers, and information gathering.The computer can also be used as a presentation tool.Teachers can use the computer to present concepts to students in ways that are much more engaging than the traditional way.As a teacher, donít you feel tired of standing in front of the blackboard and writing words on it?

Distance Education can also overcome the problem of those kids who do not want to go school, and do not do their homework. Recently, I watched a TV commercial in which a child did not want to attend school.He pretended to be ill, but his mother downloaded his homework from the Internet for him.Distance Education can help people in many ways, imagine that youíre a disabled person, and you really want to go to the school.It will be much easier if you can stay home to study instead of awaking in the morning and taking a bus to the school.

Distance Education and technology also helps students become experts and teachers; they can share their knowledge with other students by publishing things on the Internet.For instance, in my E-S-L class, my professor publishes my essay on the web site, which allows everyone to see my writing style and offer me help to correct my mistakes.I can also see the studentís works from Florida, and also others in my class at KCC, talk with them and ask them questions.What a great idea Distance Education is.

I donít care if you agree or disagree with Distance Education.Letís put everything away, and clear your brain right now.Letís imagine that youíre very sick in the hospital at this moment, and you really donít want to miss any of your classes.Donít you think that Distance Education could be very helpful for you now in solving that problem?At least you donít have to miss any of your classes and assignments.

Distance Education not only benefits students; it also allows those people, who are older, who have jobs, and families to have the chance to study.Distance Education reaches a wider student audiences, meets the needs of students and people who are unable to attend on-campus classes, and links students from different social, cultural and economic backgrounds.

Chi Wing Tsang
Spring, 2000

Essay Topic: How has computer technology changed education? How specifically is/can technology be used in the classroom to improve learning and instruction? How has Distance Education changed the way students study and learn?

Many people think that computers will supplant books in the classroom. It is very true that computers are playing a more important role in education today. Since education became student-oriented instead of teacher-oriented by the use of the computer, technology became a most useful tool for the education procedure.

Students can make use of the computer to become active and independent learners. They need not wait to be taught by a professor. They have flexible learning schedules; whenever they are available, they can learn from the computer. The use of computers at home to learn is known as Distance Education. Through the Internet, we can get all information and physically there is no need to go to school. This will save a lot of time. Also, the use of the Internet will allow global collaboration between children or adults to learn from each other. Due to the direct exploration, expression and experience of their own learning, students will be responsible to and for their own learning. The more effort they put into the computer, the more knowledge or information they will get out of it. The use of the Internet will change the traditional role of students and teachers. Students will begin learning on their own rather than being taught by teachers. Teachers will change their role from an expert to a collaborator or guide. Students will be learning on their own computer, and teachers only need to give guidance to them.

The idea of changing the roles of teachers and students in education is named Constructivism. It builds on the theories of the constructivist child psychologist Jean Piaget. It is totally different from the traditional method of teaching. It allows the students to learn in a more natural way, to build-up or construct knowledge in their own minds to fulfill what they want to learn. Jean Piaget asserted that knowledge is not simply transmitted from teacher to student, but rather is actively constructed in the mind of the learner (Lerner). This assertion told us that there is a strong connection between doing and learning. For example, we can't learn the English grammar through the teachers but we can learn it from practicing.

In addition, students can use their best method to learn. Students can retain more information and have more fun learning when they are studying in their own favorite methods. As a result, they can have a more individualized education through the computer.

The computer can also work as a simulator to allow students to explore phenomena. Some applications are too expensive or too impractical for the classroom, but we can use computers to simulate them. This is good for students to concentrate on the details of what they learn and not be faced with distractions that have no connections to their final goals.

In many fields, computers are used by the professors to provide a web page containing information about the syllabus, course handouts, old copies of tests, copies of exams and different links to the World Wide Web. Students can hand in their homework through the Internet, and teachers can make amendments to their work and send them back to the students. Through the interactive education, students can gain experience that they can't receive from the regular channels. For example, if someone is in the hospital, they can still receive information from the teacher and hand in their homework through the Internet; of course they must have a notebook computer with them to do this.

The use of the computer is helpful not only to the students, but teachers can also gain from the computer, too. It is more convenient and time saving for teachers to use the computer. They can use it with the printer to help them to do a lot of the paper work. They can use it as a tool for grade databases, lecture slides, letters to parents, communication with other teachers and information gathering. Also, the computer can provide a more engaging presentation to the students by the teachers; this makes students concentrate more on the topic that they have to learn.

Although technology provides both the impetus and the means for positive educational change, unfortunately there has been very little incentive to have such a change. It is because professors are often scared of the time and energy they need to spend on evaluating the effectiveness of integrating technology in their courses. Furthermore, in order to integrate technology into education, colleges must make some changes; for example, primary change in the curriculum, retraining teachers, infusion of new technology and the production of excellent educational software. All these changes will need a lot of investment that may be unaffordable or that colleges may not want to invest without seeing data supporting the benefits of distance education.

There are also several argumentative theories between the positive and negative effects of the computerized education. First of all, a computer can't provide the instant face-to-face communication between students; as a result, relationships between them may be worsened. Furthermore, if some students have problems when they study, they can't have the instant feedback of the answers to the questions they have asked unless the teacher is online synchronously The advantage of flexible learning time is reduced when teachers and students must plan some time to be online together. For example, students can't go on studying mathematics when they don't know some major parts of the calculation; they must wait for the teachers to help them to clear up their uncertainties.

Today, computer usage is widely spread among the schools. Every school campus has computers in the office, the laboratory and the library. Many of them are used for printing formal documents and data storage. Plus, the use of the Internet can provide so much information that the biggest library in the world cannot compete with it. Students can find information to used for their homework and print it out through a printer. Generally speaking, students need computers in their education in every aspect. At present and into the future, I don't think that we can learn in a better way than with computers.


Lerner, Matt "Current State of Interactive Education" in The Current State of Technology and Education: How Computer Are Used in K-12 and Brown University Classrooms [Online]. [March 23, 2000].

Negroponte, N., Resnick, M., Cassell, J. (1997). Creating a Learning Revolution. [Online].

Posted to the Web on Sunday, April 9, 2000 at 18:43 EST
Last updated on Wednesday, May 2, 2000 at 20:18 EST