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The Old Days

Computers in 1977 (when I started) were only affordable by large corporations and mostly made by IBM.  We gave the computer information on punch cards and it gave us back information ONLY on paper. 

The paper was produced by impact printers that worked like the typewriters of the day, striking one letter at a time through a ribbon with a die that had the letter stamped on it. If a person needed the information in a hurry, they ran down the stairs to the printer room and read it as it got printed!  Good exercise but hardly timely!

Computers took up huge rooms, mostly because the internal processing ('thinking') created so much heat that most of the space was taken by "chillers" that pumped cold water through the core of the computer.

My cell phone now has 8 times more computer memory (storage) than the first computer I programmed on 35 years ago. 

Technology Advancements

Advancements in dissipating heat and storing more information in a smaller space have been mind-boggling.   Ditto the parallel advancements in televisions from the old TVs with huge tubes to the hi-def flat screen TVs we have today - what a difference!

Advancements in how we work and learn are pretty amazing too. I attended a seminar this week held by one of the world's leading experts on a particular subject.  He gave us his presentation using Skype from his home - in Brazil!  And..... the presentation was filmed as part of the teleconference and is now up on the web for all to view.  I find it simply incredible that the local webmaster's group that I belong to has live monthly presentations from the best and the brightest from all over the world!

(I should make a note at this point that these are going to be somewhat rambling.  That's the way I think.  Most of the time, I go back and reorganize it but I probably won't do that here.)

A Computer

  • A computer is a tool.  It should be something that makes your life easier, not more frustrating.
  • A computer is a machine.  It only does what it's told. 
  • A computer follows rules.  Those rules may make not make sense to you but they did to someone.  You need to learn the rules to be successful. If you're running an Apple computer (iPhone, iPad, MAC, etc.), the rules are somewhat different from a PC (Droid, Windows, Microsoft).  Not bad or good, just different.

A computer does 3 basic things:

  1. It STORES information (hard drives, CD/DVDs, flash/jump drives, the 'cloud', servers)
  2. It PROCESSES information
  3. It INTERFACES to get or give information (keyboards, touch screens, monitors, mouse, printers, internet connection, email, messaging)

Computer Storage

Computer storage is measured in 'bytes' which is the equivalent of one letter of the alphabet.  Here are the most common terms:

  • KB (kilobyte) - Stores about 1,000 letters or a small paragraph of information
  • MB (megabyte) - 1,000 times bigger than a KB, so it stores about 1,000,000 letters (about 4 books)
  • GB (gigabyte) - 1,000 times bigger than a MB, so it stores about a billion letters (about 4,000 books)
  • TB (terabyte) - 1,000 times bigger than a GB, so it stores a trillion letters (about 4 million books)

Computer storage can be either inside the computer itself (internal) or only attached to the computer as needed (external) like a flash drive (also called jump drive or thumb drive) or external hard drive.

The most recent trend in computer storage has been 'Cloud' storage that is accessed through an Internet connection and stored on someone else's storage computers (file servers) like Google or Adobe or any number of other providers.  This is being driven by the mobile computing market.  Phones and Tablets have limited storage space because they're small. Additionally, many people use their smart phones and tablets as an additional computer and want to share information with their home computer.  Rather than putting the information on a flash drive and then moving it to the other computer, they store it on a Cloud storage device that is accessible from any computer that you own.  Adobe recently introduced it's Creative Cloud where the documents can be worked on from any device and other people can be given permission to access that same document to view or edit it.

Enough for the day!  Go hug a GSD!