Communicating Using Computers Unit 7
A brief History of Computers and using them. By Mr Prince aged 38 and a 1/4.
A Commordore Pet Before I can tell you about where we are at the moment we had better start by looking at how we got here.
The modern personal computer has been around for thirty years or so. I'm talking here about a machine that stands alone often on top of a desk and runs programs that do stuff.
Oddly my life has coincided with the rise of personal computing here is my computer hisory.
The Dark Ages about 1975 to 1990
I can remember the first computer I ever saw. A maths teacher bought it in to a lesson at my school. We all stood in awe and looked at this machine (it was called a Commodore Pet) that was going to change our lives. Then he plugged it in.
Disappointingly it didn't it do much. It had a green single colour screen about 15cm across and in the bottom corner a > sign flashed, that was it. I was still impressed but less so. The teacher Mr Davenport (Davo) showed us how you could add up numbers and then he played an early version of space invaders on it. I was a bit more impressed but not much. 10p got me a game in the arcade under the cinema and this had cost a fortune.
As the years went buy personal computers got a bit better, they had colour screens but you still had to deal with a text based interface. It was usually a flashing A: and you could play better games on them. Everything had to be loaded in each time you started up the computer as there was no hard drive. If you lost an important disk everything went wrong. Writing a letter was harder than making a website is now and when you finished you didn't it have a printer anyway.
Word Perfect By 1985 you could word process on them and then print out something on a terrible printer that wasn't really as good as a hand written letter. At least you could store the results on a hard drive. By this time the computer showed a C: when it started up.
I had one at my parents home by 1990 and I used it for simple letters. I remember cataloguing all my climbing gear for some odd reason, (I still have the climbing gear but I have had 9 different computers since then).
The first Apple MACThe enlightenment about 1990 to 2000
Things got better as we moved toward GUI (Graphical User Interfaces) the early Apple Macintosh put this in a pc that people could afford and gave us windows and the mouse. Microsoft them stole these ideas (controversial) and gave us;
Microsoft Windows 3.11
Windows 3.11 was rubbish but at least you didn't have to deal with a text based display anymore you could play slightly better, sometimes 3d games (wolfenstein) and if you could find a way of getting a picture onto a computer it looked fairly real.
Windows 3.11By 1995 I was making a living using a personal computer at work it was running windows 95 and I was using a piece of design software called Autocad. This was actually really useful. First of all I was being paid pretty good money to use it and secondly it was easier and quicker than producing engineering designs on a piece of paper with a pencil.
Something else changed then at the company I worked in. we got a network.
It was called a token ring network. All the drawings or
designs we worked on were held on a central server and
anybody could access the drawings from any machine. This meant different
people could work on the same drawing without changing chairs this actually
felt really useful.
Early 3D game
The next company I worked at had email this was 1996 to 1997 and we used the internet for email. Whilst we couldn't get on line I did know the internet existed and as a trainee nerd I wanted to get online.
Somebody at work sold me a PC I can remember the spec it was a 30Mhz processor and a 40mb hardrive. It was still using windows 3.11 but it had a modem. I remember using an early version of netscape navigator and dialing in to compuserve (an ISP) and getting online. What a thrill, I then hit a problem. There was nothing to look at really, google didn't exist and the connection was incredibly slow. None of my friends had email addresses at the time so as there was nothing to do I turned the machine off and went rock-climbing for another year.
The Modern Era - about February 1999 in the the UK to the present day
Computers really became useful not when they could share information this was technically possible just after the second world war but when enough people had the technology in their hands. It also needed software to improve to the point that you didn't need to be an uber geek to use it. People then had to change their lives as well.
The newer operating systems like Windows XP, OSX and some of the Linux distros now came with good quality browsers. The computers we have now go online and network to each other easily and you spend much more time using them and less time rebooting them.
- Printers got cheaper faster and better.
- Most people got a digital camera in fact it is getting hard to buy a product that doesn't have one it.
-We all got mp3 players and most of us got Ipods because there cool.
- We all got email addresses and then spam and now we have IM (msn).
My life and computers in 2006 - Things I use computers for
- All my banking
- All my lesson planning
- I have my own website for family and friends and some other things that amuse me.
- Email, there are lots of people I haven't written a letter to in years quite a lot of my friends I have never written a letter to.
- If a product cost more than £50 and less than £500 I probably bought it online.
- All my photographs are now on my computer. I haven't yet scanned in my 10,000 slides from the 80's and 90's.
- All my music is now mp3 and I have an intranet at home serving it up wirelessly
- I don't have a video I have a pc recording digital TV and again serve it up wirelessly on to my TV.
All of the above with the exception of preparing lessons like I am as
I write this are about exchanging digital information of one sort or another
with other computers.
Thats what this unit is about
Computers were a bit rubbish until we made them easy for most people to use.
Computers were a bit rubbish until we made it easy for them to talk to
each other using Networks.
This only really happened in the 21st century.