We live in a world filled with technology. But did it come to this? In this edition of the Special Report, we trace technology inventions that make today’s world possible.
With the arrival of IBM’s ‘hard drive’ it became easier to store information in a computer. Before hard drives, one had to store data on paper or rolls of magnetic tape-neither made it easy to search for specific bits of information. Today, hard drives are being replaced by cloud drives that store information on the Internet instead of saving them inside your computer.
At the heart of the computer, mobile phone and any bit of technology is the microchip. The chip is what is called an ‘integrated circuit’ and this is the piece that performs the calculations that computers make. Since the time it was invented, chips have becomes smaller and smaller but more and more powerful. This tech is what makes smartphones so good at doing so many different things.
Satellite communications comes into play! Today, the remotest places on Earth can be connected with satellite phones. These phones bounce signals off satellites orbiting (going around) the Earth in space. With satellite communications, not just long distance calls, but also live TV broadcast across the world became possible.
That year, four computers in different places were connected together and were able to share information which traveled as ‘packets’ that were re-assembled at the destination. The new network, called the Arpanet, enabled computers at many different locations to communicate easily. This was the first version of the internet.
You know that light travels faster than anything else on Earth but it wasn’t until 1970 that someone managed to put that quality to use to transmit communication signals. Voice calls and data packets were sent across long distance networks in the form of bursts of light energy. This was made possible in 1970 by the invention of a thin fibre-like strand of glass that could transmit light signals at terrific speeds. That’s how optic fibres got their name. Today, they are used in almost all computer and long distance networks.
The first supercomputer called the Cray-1 was installed that year at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States. A supercomputer is a machine that can perform extremely fast calculations. The Cray-1 could perform 160 MFLOPS or 160 million floating-point operations per second. Today’s fastest supercomputer can perform 200 pentaflops which is 200,000 trillion calculations per second.
The Personal Computer or PC arrives with the launch of the Apple II
Japanese company SONY took music mobile with its Walkman-for the first time, people could carry their music around. It worked with cassette tapes which you don’t really see around you anymore
If computers mushroom everywhere can viruses be far behind? 15 year old Rich Skrenta created the first virus called ‘Elk Cloner’ that spread to multiple computer networks.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee came up with ‘hypertext markup language’ or HTML to make web pages as well as the ‘Uniform Resource Locator’ (URL) to identify where information is stored. These made the Internet possible.
The International Space Station (ISS) began to take shape that year. It is now a complete research station that is run by astronauts from various countries that carries out experiments in space. The ISS is a spacecraft in permanent orbit around Earth.
Mark Zuckerberg started ‘thefacebook.com’ 15 years ago and social media was born. Today’s social media apps like Instagram and Whatsapp owe a lot to Facebook.
The iPhone arrives and becomes so popular that everyone wants a smartphone. This paves the way for the mobile internet and the world of apps .
Space travel is not just for governments. Private companies are building and launching rockets into space, and what’s more, they are doing is smarter with rockets that can be re-used
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