We use computers in almost every aspect of our lives, yet not long ago computers were so large (often the size of an entire room) and costly that they were not available to the general public. Understanding the history of computers will give business professionals a competitive edge in applied technology.
History of Computers
The first versions of computers developed in response to the U.S. government’s need to quickly and accurately compile the census data of the rapidly growing population in 1880. The resulting punch card machines preceded the modern computer. Computers continued to evolve, and in 1941, researchers at Iowa State University created the first computer with built-in memory.
In 1964, a prototype of the modern computer came into being, and in 1971, the first floppy disk enabled information sharing between computers. The first computerized spreadsheet system appeared seven years later. Microsoft (founded in 1975) announced the first Windows operating system in the mid-1980s. The internet arrived in 1985, and Wi-Fi followed fourteen years later. The early to mid-2000s brought innovations in online services like YouTube and Facebook as well as smaller and more powerful hand-held devices.
Computers in Business
No matter the industry, size or location of a particular business, one thing is certain: computers are essential. The use of computers in business has affected many aspects of the way businesses operate, including the efficiency, use and availability of data and communication.
Computers can drastically increase a business’s productivity. Businesses can store and access data essential to core operations in compact and readily accessible formats rather than rely on inefficient rooms full of filing cabinets. Password protection ensures the integrity of sensitive information, which makes it easier to track access to specific company resources.
Internet-based computer applications keep businesses in touch with their employees across departments and divisions, often in other cities, states or countries. Businesses can also use computers to maintain contact with customers through regular emails, newsletters and social media profiles.
Computers are essential in today’s society. In fact, there is more computing power in a smartphone today than in early computer prototypes of the 20th century. Business students must understand how the history of computers intersects with the use of computers in business today if they are to continue developing competitive businesses and integrated technologies.
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