An invention of miraculous dimensions, computers have revolutionised our lifestyles for the better and continue to do so. In less than fifty years they have influenced practically every field of activity. The Computer Age is our new reality.
No one could have imagined that the initial computing machines would so soon be developed into the highly sophisticated present day computers.
And this stupendous revolution has been carried out by the computer without a shot being fired or a drop of blood being shed.
Computers have taken up key roles in all fields of activity including agriculture, weather forecast scientific research, designing, banks and financial institutions, space research and technology, communication and media, medicine, aviation, railways, traffic control, language learning, literature and entertainment.
A computer is an electronic device that can carry out calculations and process information. Vast amounts of data can be handled effectively and efficiently at a very fast rate.
A computer can virtually carry out any activity but it cannot think at least for now! It thus requires a human operator and a set of detailed instructions, called a program.
The Storage until of a computer is called the memory which can be accessed via an input device- the keyboard. The output and the processed data can be received on a TV screen or in print via a printer.
Computers can vary from the very compact laptops to large mainframe systems and supercomputers. The computer has two parts the hardware, meaning the electronic and mechanical parts, and the software or the programs. Most of the computers are digital and work on the binary system.
Computers have become indispensable in all areas in which they have been introduced. Industries and business houses would virtually collapse if computers were to be suddenly withdrawn.
Right from management, organisation and planning to the actual production, computers are being used at every stage.
Robots, which are nothing but computer-controlled arms and hands, are increasingly in use in assembly lines of many factories. They can efficiently carry out monotonous and hazardous tasks.
Personal robots have also been developed for a variety of uses including assisting handicapped people in becoming independent and self-sustained.
Hazardous tasks like handling dangerous chemicals or metals at high temperatures can be performed with ease by robots under human supervision.
Automation in banks and railway stations has provided relief to the public and staff alike. Ticketing and reservation have become more efficient and convenient. Business transactions and the high volume of associated data are easily managed using computers.
In the field of medicine, especially in medical diagnosis computers are being used to locate and investigate accurately and precisely any abnormalities or diseases. Computers are also vital to diagnostic tests which help in correct diagnosis and the choice of appropriate treatment.
Scientific research and space exploration have also evolved to their present extents with the aid of computers. Complicated problems are solved with an amazing speed and accuracy. This has revolutionised the engineering and technological fields.
Not only do computers solve complicated equations, they can also simulate various conditions and predict accurately the behaviour of things under such conditions.
In this manner computers have made possible inventions and discoveries which would otherwise have been unfeasible.
Any space mission and satellite launch relies heavily on computers for precisely calculating and organising the whole procedure including angles of entry, velocities required and trajectory.
We have been able to gather vital information about distant galaxies and their components with the help of computers.
Computers in communication and media have effectively turned the whole world into a global village. Access between any two points on the earth is possible. Services like E-mail have made it possible for people to exchange data and information.
Even in Indian services like hybrid mail now make it possible to deliver information in the shortest possible time at a required place. Personal computers have taken over the tasks of writing and keeping household accounts.
Networks can now be established enabling people to exchange news, data and all sorts of information. Today the entire world is linked through satellites.
Art and entertainment have also developed immensely by using computers. Animation films or movies like Jurassic Park would have been inconceivable in the absence of computers.
Use of computers has its negative aspects too, at the individual as well as the social level. Excessive use of computers can damage eyes and long hours of work on the keyboard can lead to joint ailments and spondilytis.
At another level computers are being in developing dangerous and lethal weapons. Misuse of data by people who break into computer networks is also becoming a problem of large dimensions.
Evil or super-efficient, computers are increasingly making themselves felt as indispensable in homes, school and offices even in a developing country like India.
The silent revolution has been efficiently carried out. Computers are here to stay. It is up to us to use them for the benefit and betterment of mankind.