Events from the 1960s

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  • Topic: Computer, Personal computer, Graphical user interface
  • Pages : 5 (1532 words )
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  • Published : December 23, 2011
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The 1960s is a decade filled with a series of remarkable and significant events that still resonate today. From the charismatic John F. Kennedy winning the nation's highest office to Vietnam War, the 1960s was a decade of transformational changes (Whithaus, 2004). Adding to this transformation were a host of technological breakthroughs. For the first time in American history a presidential political debate, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, was aired on TV. In 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby on-camera. Furthermore, in 1965 the first instant replay added a new dimension to sports coverage. In 1967, all three major network shows were broadcasted in color. Finally, in 1969, television televises men on the moon (Whithaus, 2004). However, perhaps one of the major significant events of the 1960s was the use of technology, specifically computers, to enhance human intellect. People attaining a higher level of education nearly doubled since 1940, making personal computers the perfect tool to change human intellect (Whithaus, 2004). The 1960s was the most productive period for creating the modern computer (Barnes, 1997). By definition, a computer is a device that performs calculations and processes information. The first modern computers were very large, often filling up an entire room (Barnes, 1997). The 60s was a decade to introduce many advances in computer technology. In early 1960 digital equipment introduced the first minicomputer, named PDP-1, priced at $120,000 (Whithaus, 2004). PDP is the acronym for Program, Date, Processor and was the first commercial computer equipped with a keyboard and monitor (Whithaus, 2004). As mentioned above, many advances in computer technology were made during the 1960s. In 1963, transistors, a device that transfers electronic signals, were introduced. This invention made it possible for computers to be much smaller than computers from the 1940s (Whithaus, 2004). The early 1960s was also an important period for the development of computer languages. Computer language consists of codes that provide date and instructions to computers. Improved codes meant that computers would work faster (Whithaus, 2004). A major computer pioneer was Douglas Engelbart. In 1963, Engelbart's most famous invention was born, the computer mouse (Susan, 1997). Along with his research group at Stanford Research Institute in California, Engelbart tested a series of devices--pointers, joysticks, trackballs--a brown, wooden box with two rolling wheels and a red push button on top. Other devices included multiple window display and hypermedia for inputting, manipulating, and displaying data (Susan, 1997). Many researchers claim Engelbart's ideas were far-fetched. His dream was to use computers to connect individuals in a network that would allow them to share and update information in "real time" (Susan, 1997). He envisioned "networked computers employing a graphical user interface." By 1967, Engelbart established a research laboratory site, Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the primary precursor to the Internet. On Dec. 9, 1968, at a computer conference in San Francisco, Engelbart demonstrated a working real-time collaborative computer system known as NLS (On Line System) (Susan, 1997). Engelbart and Bill English, along with their research team, at the Stanford University's Stanford Research Institute (SRI), spent 90 minutes at the Fall Joint Computer Conference publicly introducing and demonstrating the computer mouse, hypertext, email, video conferencing, word processing, and cut-and-paste. Interestingly, in a 90-minute period, the entire human race was introduced to the power of the computer network for the very first time (Susan, 1997). The 1960's set off a chain reaction of political and social transformations that brought the modern world into existence. To imagine today's world without computers is merely impossible. Unlike the 1960s where...
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