History Of Computers
Does the history of computers, those wonderful, information rich tools that bring the world to our fingers and sometimes aggravation to our lives have any interest to us? It probably ought to because the computer has been voted one of the most influential inventions of the last one hundred years, although this writer's choice is the air conditioner which has sucked everybody back in our cool houses and away from relationships that were born on front porches during long summer evening walks. No, this is not about air conditioners. While the abacus has been around for tens of centuries, anything resembling what might be called a computer of sorts was invented in the late 1930's and early 40's by a German inventor named Konrad Zuse. The man has been called the father of the modern computer.
It is not surprising that the early history of the computer was pretty much fleshed out at universities in America and in Europe. In the atmosphere of math, physics and engineering genius that certainly pervaded and still pervades the world's learning institutions today, the desire to think outside the box brought about the early versions of what we know today as a pc. While many pcs today can do one hundred and fifty billion math computations in a few seconds, the early models could do one calculation in fifteen seconds. Words like vacuum tubes, seven hundred miles of wire, five tons of weight, fifty five feet long, seven hundred thousand moving parts, and pre punched rolls of paper, thirty tons of weight; 1800 square feet in size are all mentioned when describing the internal parts of a computer in the 1950's. In 1953, private enterprise entered the pc business when the International Business Machines Company produced nineteen model 701-EDPMs for various companies and the military. As history marched on, the invention of the transistor, the mouse, floppy disk, microprocessor, the first Apple pc, the Commodore 64, spreadsheet software, word processing software were part of a snowball becoming an avalanche on the American scene.
By the seventies, internal parts of a computer began acquiring names with which many Americans are now familiar. Hard drives, disk drives, motherboard, sound card, power supply, CPU and other terms started being uttered on the lips of a few and later became the common vocabulary of millions. Americans may not have understood what any of these parts played in the pc processing scheme, but they knew that a hard disk breakdown or a motherboard being fried was not a good thing. Many a pc was tossed out a nearby window when the term fatal error flashed on the screen. And when a disk drive went bad, many Americans began to understand that the problem was just a matter of slipping one out and putting another one in its place. "I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1)
In the early history of computers, data memory was in the form of delay (sending pulses through a liquid like mercury and refreshing the memory device), Williams tubes (cathode ray tubes), and magnetic drums that held punch cards or paper tape. Internal parts of a pc today that have memory storage responsibilities include volatile units, such as the CPU or central processing unit, and the main memory or RAM. Volatile means that the units have to be powered to retain memory. Non volatile memory storage is found in the hard disk, and in off line sources such as CD's and DVD's and flash drives and zip drives. Today, the most important of the internal parts of the pc (but all are needed for a modern computer to function) is the motherboard, sometimes called the mobo by some computer makers. The mobo coordinates all the computer's activities, and includes the microprocessor, main memory, non volatile memory including BIOS, the pc's internal clock and slots for expansion cards such as sound and video.
So the history of computers is remarkable in that they have really only been around in a useful mode for about forty years. The changes in the internal parts of a computer are happening almost monthly in terms of speed and memory storage. They are becoming smaller and smaller and are used in automobiles, refrigerators, air conditioners, medical devices and well...the story is familiar. So the history of computers is not nearly as compelling as the future of computers. Where do scientists see these boxes that sit on our desks and on our laps going in the next fifteen or twenty years? Gates of Microsoft once said that the world hadn't seen anything yet.
Reality seems to point to mankind depending more and more on science and technology answering its deep and seemingly impossible problems. Because recent generations' histories have also been the history of pcs, there seems to be no understanding that believing in technology as the ultimate answer to man's problems could be, and is in fact, flawed. While much of the world is under the delusion that man is intrinsically good and possesses within himself the ability to overcome greed and hate and lust and the desire for power, the truth as God sees it is much different. God calls all of mankind sinful and fallen and incapable of becoming anything other than that which he already is: greedy, hateful...you know. Utopia will always elude us in our natural state. God will provide that place to dwell forever to those who love, honor and trust Him. It's not the internal parts of a computer perpetually evolving to a higher level of capability that will save us; it is the internal parts of our hearts, our inner beings changing by the power of God that will bring heaven on earth.
Kids Computer GamesWith computers now in most households, using kids computer games as an educational tool is both smart and convenient. Sometimes getting students interested in history, math, or science can be frustrating for some parents. If Little Johnny struggles with math and gets bored, there are online activities out there that will engage his interest. He might really grasp a concept that uses frogs on lily pads or tigers in the jungle to teach math through an interactive. Fortunately, whether a child struggles in math or Spanish or just wants to practice grammar at home, there are many options out there to choose from. Parents can use the Internet in the search for either free games or the purchase of software packages. The key is to choose educational computer games that will benefit the child to help them not only learn but find lifelong enjoyment in learning.
Free kids computer games can be found all over the Internet. This can be great for families who have limited money to buy software but already have a computer and Internet access. The other benefit to using the free games is that the child can always move on to another interactive when they get bored. For purchased software, there is a limit to the number of lessons and activities, so the student will eventually use the whole CD set. Unless the parent can resell the software or save it for the next child, it soon just adds to the clutter in the home office. Free online educational activities are also constantly changing and improving. Purchased software remains the same until the customer buys an updated version.
One thing that parents should avoid is laying the responsibility of finding free educational computer games on the child. Without certain filters or security features, a child on the Internet becomes as vulnerable as if she were alone on a city street at night. Even the best search engines could lead a child to a website that promotes pornography, violence, or other content not meant for children. In addition, children under ten or eleven really can't judge whether a game is truly educational or not. They need the leading of a responsible parent. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) Mom or dad can certainly involve the child in choosing a game, but it's the parent's job to make sure the child makes the right selection.
Some families don't have computers or Internet access, but kids computer games aren't inaccessible to them. Many companies understand that a home computer might not be affordable, so they develop mini-computers with specially designed software. These devices range in price from $20 to over $80 which is still much less than a home computer. Parents who are interested in these devices will want to use a search engine and type in "learning laptop." Many local stores will also carry these items in the toy department. Customers must be sure to look at the prices of cartridges and books, though. It's best to choose a device that doesn't require extremely expensive games. Count on buying four to six games per year. The good news is that these additional items grow with the child and can be purchased at his level.
Narrowing down the search for the right educational computer games is unique for every situation. A mom with a preschooler may want to search for preschool software. Knowing the child's interest in a certain cartoon or TV character may narrow down the search even more. The child might be more prone to play the games if it means she gets to see Elmo or Dora. A father with a seventh grader who has trouble in science will want to search for software that covers seventh grade science concepts. Other parents may want software that covers the whole gamut. There is software out there that includes games for all subjects at several levels. The price ranges can vary based on popularity of the product, how many games and lessons it includes, and even how many grade levels it includes. Although much of the software can be purchased in local stores, it is often cheaper to shop online. Many search engines offer a shopping site that will compare prices across the web on one product. This is a great way to find the lowest price.
While price is important, it's also important to be sure that the kids computer games are the right ones for the customer's child. Reading reviews and getting recommendations from other parents is always a good step to take. Educational magazines, especially those regarding special needs learners, can recommend a number of products that might be geared specifically to children with ADHD, Autism, and many other learning disabilities. Lots of general educational websites will make recommendations for software typically used by students without disabilities. When the parent finally decides on the right software, she will need to choose a reputable store to make the purchase from. Store reviews aren't usually hard to find online, especially when using search engines. Customers need to be wary of stores that don't accept returns and those that have several negative reviews. In general, finding the right store and the right educational interactives can be a very fruitful process as long as the child's best interests are at heart. When parents step up and get involved in their child's education, they soon find Junior succeeding, not because of educational computer games or books, but because mom and dad give him the support that he needs.