Computer technology of the 1960s and now
Computer technology of the 1960s may have put a man on the moon, but today’s computers are worlds beyond. The computers of the 1960s may seem primitive but the truth is they are the frame work of every Smartphone, tablet and personal computer. In the beginning of the 1960s most computers were behemoths taking up whole floors of office buildings. Because the computers were so massive they usually became a structure in a office building or university. Not only were computers big in size the price was a small fortune as well, some costing as much as $1 million. A large contributor of the size of the computers was the memory banks. A 1960s gigabyte of storage was a disk the size of a small car tire whereas now it’s no bigger than a postage stamp. The reason for the extreme discrepancy between size then and now it’s the emergence of the microchip. A microchip came about to combat the problem of size. Busicom a Japanese calculator manufacture needed a desktop calculator that was cost effective. Intel accepted the challenge and designed the microchip. The microchip replaced the old transistor inside the device and was able to compute a lot more calculations in a smaller space thus giving them a small yet powerful calculator.
In the 1960s computing was just starting to get smaller with the emergence of micro processers replacing the old transistors. While the computers were getting smaller the fear was growing bigger. With movies like 2001: a space odyssey depicting the rise if the artificial intelligence. People were starting to really fear that computers could have a mind of their own. Who could blame them, this was a generation was just coming out of the fear of complete world annihilation during the cold war. Computers that thought for them selves probably was not too much of a stretch in their minds. The fact is most people just didn’t understand how computers worked. So, most people just dismissed it as some sort of magic or trickery.
Today, a computer having a mind of its own is becoming more of a reality everyday. But people don’t seem to fear it as much, instead they embrace it. Computers have become essential in everyday life where as in the 1960’s it was uncharted territory. People have a strong relationship to technology and have a more in depth understanding of it and don’t just dismiss the inner workings. Today, people understand computers work for you not the other way around. The computers of today may look and feel different but they still do the same functions as they did in the 1960s they’re just a little more complex.
Complexity seems to be the one ever expanding similarity between computers. Now with the internet the definition of complexity just doesn’t seem to be enough to describe the vast net we call the internet. The internet was born out of the fear of the cold war. The United States needed a way of communication in case of a nuclear attack so the Department of Defense along with Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) developed ARPANET. ARPANET connected 4 California universities in a network which quickly expanded. The internet then didn’t look the same as it does now; there were no web pages or even pictures it was just text or numbers. The internet has been what seems to be the final form of computer technology.
Computers have changed the very fabric of our society in a way nobody could have imagined. From old vacuum tube computers, to the sleek super small computers of today, the evolution of this technology brings to light many differences and similarities of then and now. 1960 to now, only 50 years and the amount of progress made in evolving computer technology doesn’t seem to be slowing. I’m curious to see a paper of this nature written 50 more years from now to and see the scope of the progress and how far it’s gone.
Bogren, Sue, Kevin Erlinger, Jan Hari, and Pam Vam Walleghen. "History of the Internet." Education.illinois.edu. N.p., 4 May 1999. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. Chapman, Cameron. "History of Computers in a Nutshell." Six Revisions. N.p., 21 Apr. 2010. Web. "History of Micro Computers." Jupiter.plymouth.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013.