Evolution of the Computer

I’m sure you’ve seen old pictures of the first computers: working from punch cards, taking up entire rooms. Now you have an even more powerful computer that can fit in your pocket! Desktop computers have gotten more powerful, laptops have gotten smaller and lighter, tablets and phones have gotten bigger and are able to do more, and just about everything has a “smart” version, from TVs and thermostats to outlets and door locks.

Take monitors, for example. They started out big, boxy, and without many colors. My dad says his first one had a black screen and the text was green. They gradually got better resolution, and eventually went flat. Apple even made a monitor with the computer inside it ages ago. Now your computer monitor might even have better resolution than your TV screen. And, the screen itself is likely a touchscreen, doing even more than before.

Then there’s the way we accessed data. First there were those punch cards. Some machines even used cassette tapes or those big reel-to-reels. Then we moved to disks. The disks got smaller and smaller—actual floppy disks and then the smaller, hard ones. The cool computers had two disk drives, one you could read and one you could record from. Then there were zip disks, which had even more memory. From there we moved to recordable CDs. Now most computers don’t even have a disk drive! If you can’t download a file or get it from the cloud, you just put it on a memory card or a flash drive. I have a 16 GB flash drive attached to my computer that is so small, I can loop it on my keychain. It is smaller than those store reward cards I also keep on there!

Even keyboards have changed. The old ones were big and clunky. Then we designed ergonomic keyboards with the keys on two sides. Now the keys themselves can be smaller, keyboards lighter, and some are even backlight to make typing in low light easier. There is at least one company that makes a ‘laser’ keyboard that is essentially a projection of a keyboard that you can take anywhere and attach to any smart device using Bluetooth technology. And those of you who remember the first cellphones will remember how hard it was to text someone – you had to press each key a certain amount of times to get the right letter!

As far as peripherals go, we’ve come a long way there too. The first computers didn’t really have anything added on, and what they did have was complicated to hook up. Then we got the mouse and other optional controllers. You had to install them with all kinds of drivers. You needed all sorts of ports or docking stations to get everything to work. Then came track and touchpads, USB ports, memory card readers, and wireless options. Plug and play became a reality. Now you hardly notice when you stick something new into your computer and it has to install drivers, because it does it automatically – you don’t have to do a thing. Or you just pair it through Bluetooth, enter a code, and you’re done.

I can’t wait to see what comes next, can you?