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Today, computers have become an integral component of human life. One wonders how life would be without computers. Randell holds, “In reality, computers, as they are known and used today, are still relatively new” (45). In spite of the computers being in existence since the abacus, it is the contemporary computers that have had a significant impact on the human life. The current computers have progressed through numerous generations to what we have today. The ongoing technological advancement is bound to result in the development of supercomputers in the future (Randell 47). Computer engineers look forward to the development of miniature, powerful computers that will have a significant impact on the society. This paper will discuss the evolution of computers. The article will also discuss the future of computers and its potential repercussions on the society.
The Evolution of Computers
The modern-day computers have evolved through four generations. The first generation of computers occurred between 1940 and 1956. The computers manufactured during this period were big and used magnetic drums as memory (Randell 49). Additionally, the computers used vacuum tubes as amplifiers and switches. The use of vacuum tubes led to the computers emitting a lot of heat. The computers did not use advanced programming language. Instead, they relied on a simple programming language known as the machine language.
The second generation of computers dated between 1956 and 1963. The computers used transistors instead of vacuum tubes. As a result, they did not consume a lot of power. Furthermore, the use of transistors helped to minimize the amount of heat that the computers released (Randell 50). These computers were more efficient than their forerunners. The elimination of vacuum tubes led to a reduction of the size of the computer. The second generation computers comprised a magnetic storage and a core memory.
The third generation of computers dated between 1964 and 1971. The computers developed during this period were superior in speed. They used integrated circuits. The integrated circuits comprised many tiny transistors embedded on silicon chips. The integrated circuits enhanced the efficiency of the computer. Besides, they contributed to the development of small, cheap computers (Zabrodin and Levin 747). The previous generations of computers used printouts and punch cards. However, the third generation computers used monitors and keyboards.
The fourth generation computers were developed between 1971 and 2010. The computers were designed at a time when the human had realized tremendous technological growth. Thus, it was easy for computer manufacturers to put millions of transistors on one circuit chip. Besides, the manufacturers developed the first microprocessor known as the Intel 4004 chip (Zabrodin and Levin 748). The development of a microprocessor marked the beginning of production of personal computers. By early 1980s numerous brands of personal computers were already in the market. They included International Business Machine (IBM), Apple II, and Commodore Pet. The computer engineers also came up with graphical user interface (GIU) that enhanced computer usage (Zabrodin and Levin 749). They also improved the storage capability, primary memory and speed of the computer.
The Future of Computers
The current computers use semiconductors, electric power, and metals. There are speculations that future computers will use light, DNA or atoms. Moore’s Law hints that the future computers will shift from quartz to quantum. Computer scientists continue to increase the number of transistors that a microprocessor holds. With time, a microprocessor will comprise multiple atomic circuits. That will usher in the era of quantum computers, which will utilize the power of molecules and atoms to execute commands (Ladd et al. 47). The quantum computers will use qubits to run operations. A quantum computer will ease the computation of complicated problems. Unfortunately, such computers will be unstable. People will require ensuring that they do not interfere with the quantum state of the computer. Interfering with the quantum state will affect the computing power of the computer.
Lajoie and Derry claim, “Perhaps the future of computers lies inside us” (23). Computer scientists are in the process of developing machines that use DNA to execute commands. The collaboration between biologists and computer scientists could see the creation of the next generation of computers. Scientists argue, “DNA has the potential to perform calculations many times faster than the world’s most powerful human-built computers” (Lajoie and Derry 31). Therefore, in future, scientists may look for ways to develop computers that exploit the computing powers of the DNA. Scientists have already come up with the means to apply DNA molecules to execute complicated mathematical problems (Lajoie and Derry 34). Indeed, it is a matter of time before computer scientists use DNA to develop biochips to enhance the power of computers. DNA computers will have a storage capacity that can hold a lot of data.
Effects of Future of Computers
The development of sophisticated computers will have a myriad of effects on human life. The future computers will have an intelligent that is akin to or superior to that of humans. Presently, some computers can read multiple books in a second. Besides, some computers have the capacity to respond to questions asked in natural language. Google Company is working on a project to develop an artificial intelligence that can read and comprehend different documents (Russell and Norvig 112). Such an artificial intelligence will serve as a source of information. People will no longer require reading books or going to school. Besides, it will render insignificant the need for human interactions. People will use computers to get answers to all their problems.
Development of sophisticated computers will result in many people losing their jobs. Once computer scientists develop a computer with intelligence akin to that of human, there will be the rise of intelligent robots that will perform most human jobs. Currently, some robots facilitate production of products (Doi 201). In the future, there will be robots that can construct roads, work in supermarkets, and prepare meals in restaurants. There will be no need for human labor any longer. The development of supercomputers will have positive impacts on the provision of quality healthcare. There will be computers that can perform blood tests, measure the level of cholesterol, and diagnose allergies (Doi 203). Besides, the computers will examine people’s DNA to determine potential genetic risks and forecast possible illnesses. Such computers will help to boost the quality of healthcare and minimize deaths that result from erroneous diagnoses.
Computer development has evolved over time resulting in the formation of personal computers that are not only small in size but also efficient. Computer scientists continue to develop sophisticated computers. In Future, computers will use DNA, light, and atom to process data. The scientists are in the course of developing quantum computers. Additionally, collaboration between computer scientists and biologists will facilitate the creation of biochips using human DNA. Development of supercomputers will not only enhance the provision of quality healthcare but also eliminate the need for schools and human interactions.
Doi, Kunio. “Computer-Aided Diagnosis in Medical Imaging: Historical Review, Current Status and Future Potential.” Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics 31.5 (2007): 198-211. Print.
Ladd, Thaddeus, Fedor Jelezko, Raymond Laflamme, Yasunobu Nakamura, Christopher Monroe and Jeremy O’Brien. “Quantum Computers.” Nature 464.1 (2010): 45-53. Print.
Lajoie, Susanne, and S. Derry. Computers as Cognitive Tools, New York: Routledge, 2009. Print.
Randell, Brian. The Origins of Digital Computers, New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.
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Russell, Stuart and P. Norvig. Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, London: Prentice Hall, 2003. Print.
Zabrodin, Aleksey and Vladimir Levin. “Supercomputers: Current State and Development.” Automation and Remote Control 68.5 (2009): 746-749. Print.