Messages can be transmitted in the twinkling of an eye on E-mail or Fax. Letters which used to take days and even weeks sometimes are sent and delivered right here and now.
Money can be withdrawn from one’s account by just pressing the button of the booth of our bank by the road side, sliding into it one’s account number card and crisp notes are available in another slot of the same machine, no hassles of presenting the cheque, asking for the balance or getting the payment — everything so automatic and so quick.
In the busy world as of today, going busier every day, such ready service is saving so much time, so much energy, so much manpower which can be better utilised in some other profitable pursuit. In the medical science, particularly in the field of surgery, unthinkable and unimaginable feats are being performed — all with the help of computerised gadgets.
It should not now be laughed at as a craze, it is now the need of the age and now when we have entered the new century, we cannot imagine what further wonders are in store for us.
So what is this computer? — This must be a natural ‘inquisitiveness. A computer is defined as an electronic device which has the ability to accept data and instructions; store them, perform mathematical and logical operations and output the results.
What are important about computers are their characteristics which are speed, storage, accuracy and versatility. Taking UP these characteristics one by one, speed is to be found in the operations of computers which are caused h electrical pulses.
As the electricity travels at the speed of light, a computer too can perform innumerable number of operations in just one second. This speed is measured in nanoseconds — one nanosecond is equal to billionth of a second.
So far the capacity of ‘storage’ is concerned; it has a very large storage capacity. The contents of around two hundred sheets of A4 size of paper can be stored on a small floppy disc which is not even half the size of one sheet of paper.
As about the accuracy of computers — it should be said that computers do not make mistakes. Errors in computing are caused generally due to human negligence — feeding an inaccurate data, improper procedure, poor design etc., rather than technological faults.
Then comes the versatility of the computer. It can perform a wide range of jobs with speed and accuracy. In any organisation sometimes the same computer is used for diverse purposes such as preparing bills, generating pay slips, keeping track of the manager’s appointments and engagements; helping the secretaries in managing their correspondence etc.
There are several fields in which computers may be used or applied.
The first such use is in business application. A business organisation — it may be public or private — a company, a government or a semi-government office” computers have been found as a very useful tool. They are used to take care of financial accounts, inventory control, stock control and similar other controls. The preprocessing of financial accounts and transactions through computes has made the job faster and accurate.
The other use is in scientific applications. Science and research scholars are making use of computers for storing their information. Launching of a rocket, spaceship, whether forecasting, astronomical calculations etc. are controlled through computers only.
Their medical application has made the medical science most effective and life-saving. Computers are used for planning and control purposes by health care professionals. They are used for treatment, planning and monitoring patients in the hospitals.
Medical diagnosis has become easier and more accurate with the help of computers. For example — the symptoms detected by the physician could be fed into the computer and be compared with other symptoms and indications associated with the illness and probable diagnosis thus arrived at together with the prescriptions recommended earlier can be helpful in the process of treatment.
For sophisticated operations like open heart surgery computerised machines are taken use of with successful results.
In the field of Engineering, computers are used as designing tool by architects and designers. CAD (Computer Aided Designing) is finding wide importance and acceptance in electronic, electrical and mechanical engineering. Apart from CAD, computers have moved into CAM (Computer Aided Manufacture) whereby they drive a set of CNC (Computerised Numeric Control) machines to manufacture various components without any human intervention.
Even our educational programmes are finding the use of computers very convenient and more effective There are programmes written down to assist, students learn different subjects like Mathematics, Physics Chemistry, Biology, Geography, Anthropology and such other subjects through computers. All these programmes form a part of Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) which helps students to execute the programmes as many times as they like at any place.
Schools and educational institutions are using computers to keep students records for ready retrieval. Also, the examination results are processed on these machines.
Computerised information collected and fed while investigating cases helps the law and order agencies. Libraries or museums have in the computers a ready reckoned of their data;-of the number and nature of specimen or books available — which otherwise would have meant a Herculean effort earlier.
The major components of computers are — The Central Processing Unit (CPU); Input devices; the CPU consists of three units — the control unit, the arithmetical and logical unit (ALU) and the memory. The Control Unit interprets the instructions stored in the memory; fetches the data required for the net instruction from the memory, coordinates the activities of ALU, the memory and other devices.
The ALU performs all the arithmetical and local comparisons on the data selected from the memory, that is to say, it performs multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and logical comparisons.
Memory is the computer’s work area. All the data and programs are stored in it prior to their output.
The input devices take up the data that is in human readable form from the user, convert it to the binary equivalent and place in the memory. The input devices are the keyboard, Mouse, Joystick etc.
What has been stored in the memory by the input devices are converted again into the human readable form by the output devices and the result comes up for the user. Monitors and Printers are the devices used by the output devices and the result is called the ‘soft copy’ produced by the monitors and then the permanent copy called the Hard copy, produced by the Printer.
Computers as described above are playing a very important role, now in the everyday affairs and transactions of human life and it is therefore that, what were once called the craze of modernity have become a necessity and the need of the day without which no activity in any field seems possible.