Even persons generally weak in calculations, found a surefire and foolproof method, to do it easily. This is really a boon for businessmen, shopkeepers and students, helping them in their calculations fast. This calculating gadget was the stepping stone to further developments ultimately resulting in the computer.
The computer, originally developed in USA Circa 1931, was the monopoly of IBM-International Business Machines of USA and was initially a more versatile form of calculator. The Harward University jointly with IBM made their efforts in 1944 but it was in 1946 that the first generation calculator named ENIAC came into existence with the possibilities of performing 5000 functions in a second. Like the human brain, it could manipulate, compare and come to a conclusion, but faster, in seconds.
With continued development, transistors started being used and then came silicon chips which laid the base for the fifth generation of computers in the eighties. The small and handy PC or personal computer has changed the working of our world. This was a boon for humanity where information created artificially could enhance the memory of one PC, to retain thousands of pages of information, create graphics, do complicated mathematical wizardry and then, when necessary, pass on the information to a handy printer for records. The modern computer is billions of times faster and decisive than human brain. Now computers are classified into mainframe computers, mini computers and micro computers.
The present generations of computers have reached the level where this artificial intelligence, could further give commands to some mechanical device with electronic attachments of pre-fed memory and artificial intelligence. These are present day Robots which are in use for most of the laborious, risky and repetitive jobs in our industry. Several industries are now using them for jobs like welding, painting and fitting, mostly in assembly oriented units like car, motorcycle and cycle manufacturing.
The use of Robots in the Motor Car Industry has benefited in faster and better production where heavy objects are lifted, bolted, welded and fitted in exact forque, angles and specifications within a definite set period. Underwater activities are the most difficult due to the pressure which goes on increasing beyond human tolerance even at depths of beyond 10 0 feet of sea water. At these levels the pressure can rupture human innards. In exigencies where it becomes necessary to go down to 500 feet and beyond, these artificial intelligence based mechanisms controlled electronically have been of great use and marvelous at that.
Computers are today fed with various software for varied purposes. The Astrological Software needs just the details of birth to give a comprehensive horoscope or details of both prospective grooms and brides to give a definite conclusion regarding compatibility. There are accounting packages which will store details of expense and income to give a properly accounted Balance Sheet including Tax liabilities. Banks today have highly sophisticated software connecting them to all branches in and outside the country. A deposit made in any branch will show credit in their account further enabling the client to withdraw money anywhere and in any branch irrespective of where his account has actually been opened.
Similarly, the Indian Railways have taken advantage of these high end software installed computer systems to have all booking offices interconnected today, availing this facility, a passenger can book his ticket anywhere in India for a journey starting from any other place and detraining at a third destination. Tickets purchased at any booking office could easily be claimed for refund at any other city.
The cars of today have computer controlled ignition and fuel injection systems which can control the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Wheel alignment and fault checking are also being done by linking them to computers saving time and increasing accuracy. Today our country has a Super Computer which monitors satellites and forecasts weather, changes in atmospheric pressure, the advent of the mansoons – a critical factor related to agriculture and warns fishermen against oncoming cyclones, high velocity winds and even geological changes. The setup was delayed as USA inspite of having access to advanced technology, refused to provide one even at their asking cost. However a less versatile one, which had ceased to be of use to them and a decade behind in technology, was provided in the eighties for up linking the Capital with Districts.
The latest in Super Computers are still safe with USA and its allies. 1988 saw a Super Computer installed in USA with a speed of 2.7 billion operations per second. The latest research is on a yet faster one which could reach speed of a thousand billion operations per second. The idea of this speed itself is blinding. Currently the fastest one in the world is the ‘CRAY-3’ installed in USA with speeds of 16 billion operations per second.
Today’s Artificial intelligence is a major factor which can lose or win wars. Aircrafts, Missiles and Radars, pinpoint the targets with the use of Electronic surveillance. Rockets blasted off with systems and humans aboard have the facility of being controlled remotely and have landed men on the moon. Remote sensing launch vehicles have reached distant planets and passed beyond, for further investigations into the unseen beyond. The huge data of information received through these unmanned space vehicles are a revelation.
These are just a few examples of utilizing Artificial Intelligence and the positive aspects of it. But as it is with all things, there are weak points to which unless controlled can have devastating results. The weakest chink in the armor has been sought out by the unscrupulous. This is the computer Virus-a program designed to alter or destroy the data stored on a computer system. Computer viruses can be passed from one computer to another on floppy disks, over networks and over modem connections.
Spreading viruses may have initially started off as pranks but the ultimate result can be considerable damage. A virus spread over the Internet through a terminal in 1988, infected more than 6000 computers and resulted in destruction of data worth millions of dollars, in less than 24 hours. The basic difference between a normal program and virus is that the latter is self-replicating. They are capable of self-execution without deliberation even as they present themselves as normal programs. These ‘Hackers’, as the evil brains are known not seriously, are really of great nuisance value and strictures have been promulgated for severe action against them.
But what is to be done, when other nations resort to electronic virus disruptions and jamming against other nations. Pakistan has done it several times with our border communications resulting in our Forces, controlled by the system, getting harried through irrelevant commands, fed by Pakistani hackers from their Intelligence wing ISI.
A country like USA, having the resources of the best of masterminds in the world, could not stop their own communication system from getting infecting by virus. This stubborn and stealthy virus destroyed the vast data stored and the labor of millions of man-hours. A recent case of hacking was detected where the hacker was able to break their defense code and even got access to secret data stored at NASA, their prime rocket and Air Force establishment.
Computers are marvels and have definitely played a very important role in enhancing efficiency and speeding up scientific work. However the looming menace of hackers and pranksters need to be worked on.
The common user of this system generally purchases the micro computer consisting of the Visual Monitor, Key Board, Server and a Floppy Drive or Compact Disk Drive. The speeds of working depend on the Megahertz, storage or memory on the capacity of the Hard Disk and the workings on the software running in the system. Software range from the mundane word processing to the high end color selection enhancement or correction software. Attachments available are the Ink Jet Color Printer, Monotone Laser Printer and Color Laser Printer. The photo quality printouts are of such quality and high resolution that they put normal color photographic prints in the shade. Besides this the attachment of Modem has been a boon to the Media. Photographs and News can be transmitted in seconds from one place to another including countries separated thousands of miles away. World Wide Web accessed through the internet is a boon. Websites are available today for most companies and educational institutes all over the world creating a ready knowledge for all concerned. Business transactions have been facilitated and both the buyer and seller can finalize their deals without the hassle of waiting for relies through post or the more expensive facility of International calls. Fax facility is also convenient and made more economical by transmission through the computerized electronic mode.
Overall, the Benefits of Computer have permeated into all walks of life making knowledge accessible to all interested but the virus factor is there. All good things have some negative points which need to be tackled but the positive factor here far outsights the negative.