iii. Artificial intelligence, newer networks, expert systems
iv. Digitalisation, miniaturisation, portability
v. Enhanced processing power
vi. New microchip development
vii. Mass customisation
viii. Small, mobile robots
ix. Advanced software.
Today’s technological revolution began in the 1940s, when the concept of the computer could be demonstrated mathematically. Since then computerisation has been at or near the heart of technological revolutions occurring almost worldwide. The first technological breakthrough was offered by an automatic machine in 1944, a machine that absorbed a space more than 2200 square feet, but had less computing power than today’s standard scientific pocket calculator.
By 1952, first commercial electronic computer was made available. Soon came the main frame – huge in size, too hot needing cooling, and too allergic to dust or unexpected jolts. The period 1960-80 can be called the Data Processing Era. Due to relatively high cost and training needs, computers were basically used in businesses that processed vast volumes of information.
The mainframes of today are far smaller in size with much bigger computing power. A 1961 IBM mainframe can perform 3 trillion numerical calculations per second. By 1997 the hard disk storage stood at 11.6 billion bits which would fit 725,000 double spaced typed pages. The second era may be called the Micro Era. The first miniaturised computer using transistors rather than vacuum tubes was available in 1960, but Intel’s 1971 introduction of a second generation micro-processor made the Personal Computer (PC) possible.
Not only manufacturing was made with the use of computers but some products themselves (like autos) were fitted with micro-computers. The computers made the job of engineers, middle managers, administrative and support staff redundant. The computing power has been doubling every 24 months according to Moore’s Law (Mr. Moore of Intel predicted of 18 months time period in 1965).
The falling cost, growing speed (a mathematical problem which might have taken one year to solve manually can be solved in 30 seconds now with computer), a vast and growing array of inexpensive and free software and improvements in computer hardware (like storage disks, monitors, printers and alike) have made computers more accessible and more attractive to buyers.
No one knows how many transistors on a computer chip surface determine its speed. From 29000 transistors per chip in 1978 it has gone up to 95, 00,000 in 1999, according to Intel. Recently, the University of Illinois researchers have made the world’s fastest transistor (with a frequency of 509 gigahertz – faster by 57 gigahertz).