Society is on the precipice of a digital revolution; Pentium and PalmPilot will replace pen and paper in the coming decades. In 1981 Bill Gates said, 640K of memory should be plenty for anyone. What he didn t know then was, number one, he would be the wealthiest man in the world ten years from then, and number two, the technology he was using would double in speed and power every month for the next two decades resulting in a technological revolution which is unmatched by any. The effects of this massive advance in technology have led to such things as the Internet, wireless communication, digital photography, broadband, email, and many more. These innovations have greatly changed the way the world communicates and interacts. Who would have imagined 20 years ago that the world would be buying and selling online, sending letters in less than a millisecond, and pointing and clicking their way to millions at the age of 16. With this said, what will the world be like 20 years from now? Will the author s pen and paper be replaced by digital notebooks where everything is stored on CD s? Will the photographers film and darkroom be replaced by digital cameras and a mouse? Will the United States Postal Service be replaced by email and internet conferencing? Will television and radio be replaced by broadband streaming media? Will newspapers be replaced by up-to-the-second news feeds from websites? These are some of the many questions which technology will answer in the coming years. At the rate technology is advancing today, most of these questions can be answered yes.
Members of the older generation will say that nothing could ever replace their typewriters. Why can nothing ever replace their typewriters? Because typewriters are better than computers, of course not. You can t share billions of pages of information with a typewriter. You can t send that page you just typed with your typewriter to a friend thousands of miles away faster than you can blink your eye. You can t play solitaire or mine-sweeper with a typewriter. You can t play music with a typewriter. These are just a few of the reasons why typewriters, and other technology from several years ago is no longer useful and will be totally replaced by computer in the coming years. To understand how computers will change our lives, it is best to know a little about the history of computers and the internet.
In 1942, John P. Eckert, John W. Mauchley, and their associates at the University of Pennsylvania decided to build a high-speed electronic computer to do the job. This machine became known as ENIAC, for Electrical Numerical Integrator And Calculator. It could multiply two numbers at the rate of 300 products per second, by finding the value of each product from a multiplication table stored in its memory. ENIAC was thus about 1,000 times faster than the previous generation of computers. ENIAC used 18,000 standard vacuum tubes, occupied 1800 square feet of floor space, and used about 180,000 watts of electricity. It used punched-card input and output. The ENIAC was very difficult to program because one had to essentially re-wire it to perform whatever task he wanted the computer to do. It was efficient in handling the particular programs for which it had been designed. ENIAC is generally accepted as the first successful high-speed electronic digital computer and was used in many applications from 1946 to 1955.