A computer is defined as an electronic device that allows the input, process, output, and store of information for later use. It is an electronic device because it will require electric power for it to operate and it is made up of electronic components. There are different classifications of computers depending on factors such as size, functionality, or purpose.
Computers are characterized by high processing speed, high storage capacity, automation, diligence, reliability, versatility, and accuracy among many others. Every technology when introduced for use it comes to change how humans carry out their daily operations and the computer is no exception. Computers have made communication simple and fast, reduced cost, created new job opportunities, and reduced paperwork among many positive impacts. On the flip side, computers have come with challenges such as data security, privacy issues, and computer crimes among other negative influences.
How computers work
Data is entered through input devices (e.g mouse, keyboard, joystick e.t.c). The processing of the data is then done by the Central Processing Unit (CPU), which compose of parts such as the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU), Control Unit (CU), and the main memory (RAM).
The data is then stored temporally as it is being processed in the main memory or permanently in the secondary storage e.g hard disk drive, which can be retrieved later.
The output of the processed data is through different avenues depending on the user’s need. If users need a softcopy they can use a monitor while for hardcopy, printers can be used. These and many other output devices can be used to display the information.
Characteristics Of Computers
Computers process data faster when compared with humans. Depending on the computer the processing speed can range from a few thousands process to quadrillions processes per second. Technology has improved so much that a smartphone is faster than a personal computer of the 1990s. High speed helps process more work within a short time.
High storage capacity
Modern computers have a large storage space which can large to Terabyte. The storage can be the main memory which is volatile or the secondary which stores data permanently. The cost of storage has also gone down compared to earlier computers. The access speed of data from these devices has also increased. This means we can store more data in a small space and retrieve it faster than before.
Automation means a computer can continues with an operation without human involvement after receiving instruction. Computers are automatic devices that can carry out many operations once they are instructed on what to do.
Unlike people, computers don`t get bored or fatigued if they are made to repeat one process many times. This means they can be used to do repetitive jobs with the same consistent results which are boring to humans.
Computers can repeatedly generate accurate results depending on the data they get. They have a high accuracy level and for any error mostly they are generated by user data entry or instruction. Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO) applies in computers which means it will generate results depending on the data given. Correct data and instruction give the right results and vice versa.
Computers can be used for many different operations and functions as users may think. A digital computer can be used to surf the internet, play games, watch movies, send an email, and design a building among many other purposes that users may desire. These versatile characteristics make computers addictive to use since you can accomplish most operations from one device.
Computers if given the same data and instructions can be relied upon to give the same result all the time. Unlike us humans who can change the presentation, the computer will present it the same even if it is a million times which makes it more dependable.
A modern digital computer can work on many jobs at the same time. Users can be reading a document while listening to music and open other applications which are handled by the computer at the same time.
Computers have no brains
Computers cannot think for themselves. They require instructions coded by humans so that they can interpret them and act accordingly. This means computers cannot think rationally but only on the line that the instructor desires. With artificial intelligence improving computers may improve on making decisions without human interventions.
No feeling and emotions
Unlike humans, computers don’t have feelings or experience any emotional meltdown. You can do many things to or with it but it cannot feel any of them.
Impacts of computers on the society
Since when computers were invented they have made human life change in many ways and all aspects of life. Many advanced technologies that we see today are thanks to computers and related technologies such as the internet.
Positive impacts of computer
Easy and cheap communication
With computers and the internet, communication is made easier and more convenient. Using emails, chat rooms, social media platforms,s and other means one can be able to communicate with almost anybody in the world regardless of their location. Sometimes the communication is real-time and visual if we use applications such as WhatsApp which makes it even more interesting. This has opened a new avenue for socializing to a worldwide level.
Computer use has eliminated the use of the filling room to store files for clients. This is because using a computer and application software like a database management system they can manage their customer file from one computer. This saves on space and cost.
Create employment opportunities
Computers require an expert to operate, which means learning new skills or getting one who has the required skills. This means computers have created new professions and careers. Today most companies have an ICT department that requires professional who has technical skills in computer. In addition to innovations like social media today we have new careers such as social media managers, virtual secretaries, SEO experts, and website developers among many others.
Reduced operation cost
Since computers ease communication it means also they reduce the cost of using posters, booking hotels for meetings (instead you can have a video conference meeting), and hiring an extra room for filling among other cost-reducing. This tremendously cuts down the cost of operating a business. Also, automation of most business operations means fewer employees. With cloud computing technology companies are further reducing the cost of buying hardware and even ICT technologies management by outsourcing.
Easy distribution of knowledge
Computers have helped to distribute information from one corner of the world to another fast, simple, and convenient way. If today you what to learn a new skill you only need to connect to the internet and you can find all information that you need. Today’s learning method is where the teacher guides the student on where to find good information and how to filter the correct and most relevant.
Before computers have a large storage capacity most information was on paper. With computers, information is now stored in soft copy which reduces paper usage. Just imagine if you were to print all the pictures that are on your smartphone, what will be the size of your picture album? But today you don’t need to print them since you can access them and share them with friends and family members at any time thanks to technology.
Negative impacts of computers
Relatively high initial and operational cost
Computers are relatively expensive and not everybody can buy one. Businesses that incorporate computers in their operation will realize that they require to buy, other accessories other than the computer, and the installation may cost. The computers require repair and maintenance for the optimum operation which is expensive.
Data stored on the computer can get lost or even stolen. Most people have their bank details, and personal, and job data on their smartphones which can be stolen. This means the security of all that data is compromised. With the internet and social media, it is even worse since data can be accessed remotely by unauthorized hackers and data threats.
The technology gap is the difference between those who can afford and know how to use technology and those who cannot afford it and hence don’t use it. In the same society, we have people who have many computer types and they can use them. On the flip side, some members of the community poor and mostly old don’t use and cannot afford them. This divides society into 2, those who use technology and those who don’t.
A computer can be used to commit crimes such as cyber-attacks, hacking, and tampering with data among other computer crimes. Crime can be committed to or with a computer. Cyberbullying becoming a concern, where a person is bullied online by virtual individuals to the point of committing suicide
The rapid change in technology
Computers and related technologies are changing fast which means gadgets are becoming absolute as they enter the market. Someone born in the 1990s has moved from not having a phone to having a smartphone that can fit in their pocket.