Nothing epitomizes modern life better than the computer. For better or worse, computers have infiltrated every aspect of our society. Today computers do much more than simply compute: supermarket scanners calculate our grocery bill while keeping store inventory; computerized telephone switching centers play traffic cop to millions of calls and keep lines of communication untangled; and automatic teller machines (ATM) let us conduct banking transactions from virtually anywhere in the world. But where did all this technology come from and where is it heading?
To fully understand the impact computers have on our lives and promises they hold for the future, it is important to understand the personal computer. The personal computer also known as the PC has evolved over the past several years into something that is now a part of every day life. Personal computers were not always like this though; they have made a great deal of significant changes that have allowed them to become as important as they are now. Before these improvements were made, the personal computer was not found in almost every single home across the world as they are today.
Not only has the personal computer positively affected the business world, but also serves as a means of entertainment. It’s amazing what use to be someone’s dream is now a major tool that everyday life evolves around. There are many different companies that make personal computers today, but I would like to focus on Apple, Macintosh and IBM, because it seems that it was these companies that started the personal computer’s launch into it’s present day use. Steven Wozniak and Steven Jobs, who were interested in electronics, were very good friends in high school.
Staying in contact after high school both ended up dropping out of college and getting jobs for companies in the Silicon Valley. Wozniak worked for Hewlett-Packard, while Jobs worked for Atari Company. Wozniak had been working in computer design for a while when, in 1976, he designed what would become the Apple 1. This was Wozniak’s first contribution to the personal computer. The Apple 1 was built in printed circuit board form when Jobs insisted it could be sold. In April of 1976 at the Homebrew Computer Club In Palo Alto, the Apple 1 made its debut, but few people took it very seriously.
The Apple 1 was based on the MOStek 6502 chip, whereas most other kit computers were built from the Intel 8080 (Apple 1). The Apple 1 was not very successful in 1976. It was sold through small retailers and only included the circuit board. A tape-interface was sold separately, but you had to build your own case for the Apple 1. The circuit board itself initially cost $667. It wasn’t until 1977, when the Apple II debuted that Apple begun to take off. The Apple II was based on Wozniak’s Apple I design, but had several additions.
The first improvement was a plastic case; this made the Apple II the first PC to come in any kind of casing. Secondly was the ability to display color graphics. Also it included a larger ROM, more expandable RAM and had integer basic hard-coded on the ROM for easier programming. With all this came two game paddles and a demo cassette for $1,298. The following year Apple released a disk drive compatible with for the Apple II. It was at this time that orders for Apple machines were multiplied largely.
Of course after the Apple II came the Apple III although it had may improvements from the Apple II such as A Synertek 8 bit 6502a processor which ran up to the speed of 2MHZ, 128K of RAM, 4K of ROM, first Apple PC with built in 5. 25” disk drive and hi-resolution graphics built into the motherboard. This machine did not sell as well as the Apple II and ended up being discontinued in 1985 (Apple III). It was after Jobs’ visit to Xerox PARC in 1979 that he and several other engineers began to work on the Lisa, which would redefine personal computing.
Jobs didn’t prove to be a great project manager so he was kicked off the project. Jobs used his 11% of what he owned of Apple to take over someone else’s project and began working with the Macintosh. Which started as a $500 personal computer, but Jobs was determined to make it more (History 1981-1983). It wasn’t until 1981 when IBM released its first PC. With the power of Big Blue, IBM’s PC began to dominate the market. Jobs and his team would have to try very hard to out do IBM, but he realizes until Apple made some changes they would never be able to match IBM.
The PC’s today are nothing in comparison to the ones back in Job’s time. Today we have computers that are faster, and more effective. One example of the great improvements is the IBM PC 300PL. The 300PL has a Pentium III processor, which allows it to move at the rate of 733MHz, that is 731MHz faster than the Apple III. It also has a CD read/write drive that allows you to 650mb of data, and Sdram memory, which enhances the overall performance of the system (PC World65). Another great example of the advancements in the PC would be the Gateway Profile 2 CX.
Which has installed an Intel Celeron Processor, which allows it to move at a rate of 500MHz but don’t let that fool you, the rest of the package makes up for this. It has a 20GB Ultra ATA Hard Drive, 64 MB SDRAM, and a 6X DVD-ROM Drive, which allows you to watch DVD’s on the PC (PC World 73). And one last example of the advancements in the PC is the Gateway Performance 700. This computer is equipped with the Intel Pentium III Processor 700MHz, 128MB of SDRAM, 27. 3GB Ultra ATA 66 7200 RPM Hard Drive, and an 8X DVD-ROM Drive (PC World 73).
These improvements and many more have enabled people to enjoy and do more things that require computers at home for an affordable price. Back in the late 70’s and 80’s when the PC was first making it’s appearances the PC was defiantly not used for the same purposes then as they are today. If you told someone in the 70’s and 80’s that the PC would be used for entertainment purposes they probably would not believe it. The PC has more purposes today then it ever had. Now with the PC you are capable of watching DVD movies, playing games, chatting, or just surfing the Internet.
These are just the minor things that the PC is used for. But the PC is capable of much more. For instance, now it is possible to keep track of your bank accounts going through online banking. Also another feature of the PC is online billing. This enables people to pay and receive bills in the comfort of their own home, and not having to worry about if the bill will make to the company on time if you don’t mail it early enough. And for those people interested in stocks, there’s no better or faster way to trade, sell or buy stocks in the privacy and comfort of your own home than on your PC.
For all the students across the world the PC also proves to be help full even in the educational field. Example your doing research for your Computer Concepts paper and you can’t seem to find enough information at the local library, then all you have to do is get on your PC get on the internet and search for what ever kind of information you are wanting. All in all the usage of the PC has grown greater over the past several years, and most likely will continue to grow. Thirty years ago you would have had trouble finding PC’s in anyone’s house or anywhere else, but that is not the case now.
Almost anywhere you go today you are most likely going to come across a personal computer directly or indirectly. Wither you are just going to Mac Donald’s for a Big Mac and you pay the cashier working at the register that just range you up on a personal computer or looking for a car on the Web you are dealing with personal computers. Personal computers are found all over the world today. Not only all over the world, but also in almost every household. That itself should prove evidence enough that the personal computer is growing very rapidly and is of major importance of the world and way of life today.