Computers Come of Age (Gordon Pask)
The computer is a very important invention in our era. However, the history of its creation along with the creators remain unknown for many people. These innovators did not do a solo work, and most of the inventions of the digital age were done collaboratively. There were a lot of fascinating people involved, and it is the work of these pioneers that changed our modern world. The developing relationship between computation, communication and control more than anything explains how the computer has developed and it is likely to lead us in the future. Computing is transforming this century in an exponential speed, some think it might even be more important than the invention of the wheel.
This article shows how human intelligence has always led to means of automating calculations. From Pascal and Leibnitz, till our modern times. Which makes it hard to actually give the credit of the computer invention to a person. Computing, has allowed humankind to develop another level of their intelligence. The scientist that used to spend months working on calculations and repeating them, is in our modern society a man that uses his scientific knowledge to set rules and guides by which the machine is supposed to function, that is called computer programming. And this machine, unlike the scientist’s intelligence, could be used by other individuals repeatedly and grows to perfection with different users who could combine their creativity with the program already present in this machine. By the time gained, the facilities and the exactitude of the results, a scientist could develop his talents and look further for new horizons of research.
Nowadays, the opportunities presented to a computer user are infinite. Everyone in their domain is able to use the machine in order to improve a task. Which brings us the idea that this machine resulting from the evolution of many minds, provides us today with the infinite means. So because of the sharing of the inventors’ ingenuity, every common man could have access to knowledge and technology. So this invention presents not only scientific evolution, but also social and cultural evolution. Using the computer, represents the interaction made between the user and all the minds that contributed to this invention, condensed in this machine. So it has improved the communication of human kind in a way that, a scientist of the 15th century would spend years teaching astronomy to a disciple; while nowadays all that knowledge and much more is available to our use via computers and satellites. The compilation of these technologies, created a system of loop in which this machine is used and adapted to every domain’s needs. It has also contributed in the time efficiency in our modern professions. For example, an architect nowadays could draw, edit and update his drawings from one single file, he can print as many copies as desired. The thing that was impossible only a few decades ago. We have reached some level where we could print a 3D model in our home. Maybe few years from now, instead of going to the store and buying a needed part, one could simply download a 3D model and print it out.
However, when it comes to the question “Is a program part of the computer or part of the operator?” opinions vary. Actually, I think that the part of the program which is computer, was generated and coded by a previous operator some time ago. And the current operator would use his own skills in order to code and program the machine to serve a certain purpose. This last program could be later used by another programmer and so on. This fact highlights the idea that computing is all about communication and interaction, not only the users’ but also the operators’ minds.
Finally, through all the history of computing everything was built upon the same five functional elements: input, storage, control, arithmetic/logic and output. These are put in order to assure the function of a computer which by its complexity reduces any action to either: addition, subtraction or comparison. So no matter how complex this invention looks like, and how complex it had made the connections in our society; in the end the equation is simple and as always we could break it to human intelligence.