Computers, The Toy Story II- Daniel Thomi


Previously on Computers, The Toy Story

We mentioned how computers were birthed and how one of the riches man to walk this earth was made by them. More importantly, we left at a point where we said three things greatly influenced the present day computers: The chip, the input and output devices, and the operating system. We called these the Key Three. If none of these is making sense, have a quick read of my previous post (Computers, The Toy Story), we will wait for you.

Easy Ideas to Recycled & Reuse Old Computer Parts Electronics & E-Waste

Days of Future Past

As I had told you earlier, computers ought to have an input, a way to process that input, then an output where what was processed can be seen. The Key Three affected all these areas (input, processing, output), the fundamentals of a computer. Now I will explain how and I will start with the most significant.

The chip, a set of electronic circuits miniaturised to the size of a fingernail, was invented in the 1960s. It is contestably the greatest invention of the 20th century. Because of the chip it made the huge electronic circuits of the computer the size of a room to be reduced to the pocket-size smart phone of today. Chips form the basis of the form major components of the computer chiefly the Central Processing Unit (CPU), the brain of the computer if you like.

Next, entered the keyboard and mouse for input, and CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) Monitors for output in the late 1970s. CRT monitors were like those old TVs we had growing up. For those of you born in this millennium, I will say CRTs are like what your fathers had for TVs when growing up. Using keyboards and mouse as input devices and CRT monitors as output devices, made it possible for highly trained users, other than just geniuses, to operate computers. Fast forward into the future, computers are now usable by every other Tom, Dick, and Harry. For lovers of equality, you could say Jane, Dick, and Harry, you know just to meet the 1/3 gender rule.

Operating system (OS), being the third of the Key Three, came it to the scene, again, in the late 1970s. The operating system is a software, one that holds all the other software installed in a computer. Additionally, it facilitates enormously the activities of the input, processor, and output ensuring all works synchronously. You can think of it as the blood plus the nerve system. Now the guy Bill Gates made his green bills here. He made a rudimentary OS for IBM (International Business Machine), a computer manufacturing company then. Gates’ OS shipped with every IBM’s computers and he got a handsome reward for it. However, he shrewdly did not sell the copyrights of the same to IBM, allowing him to see his OS even to other computer manufacturers. With the advent of OSs, they removed the need for a human to coordinate activities of input, processing, and output.

Retro computer 'collage' idea - Apple 3 computer, 1980 - doesn't seem that long ago, does it? Or, does it?!

Gone in sixty seconds

Before I go on, I will say this: computers can only produce what they get in. They classically live out the line “Garbage In Garbage Out”, GIGO if you like. There has to be an input unit, a processing unit, and an output unit. These three have existed to form a computer in the last 70 to 80 years. However, what has changed, and I believe will keep changing is how we feed in the input, how we process it, and how we show the results. Currently, keyboards (virtual and physical), touch screens, pointing devices, mice (the computer ones, not the rodents), and voice receptors (microphone) are reigning as input devices. The output devices are largely dominated by screens, printers, and speakers. The processing unit remains to be a silicon chip. It will be interesting to see what we will use to process in the future computers.

A stunning Raspberry Pi laptop build: nokton35mm’s “RasPSION” Pi laptop build, inspired by the Psion portable computers of the late 1990s.



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