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Copyright © 1997, Jay Ligda.  All rights reserved.  Published by Humans in the Universe and Jay Ligda.

A History of the Computer/Internet

      The idea of the computer goes as far back as 1834 (Grun, 1976).  The computer operates through a binary code of information storage and retrieval (Gates, 1995).  This is known as digital information.  Information stored digitally can be copied virtually flawlessly without any degradation that can occur in analog systems (Gates, 1995).  Dawkins (as cited in Schage, 1995) compares the virtually flawless binary information system of the computer with the virtually flawless quaterary information system of the genetic code.

      It wasn't until 1942 that a computer was actually built (Grun, 1976).  It was called the ENIAC (electronic numerical integrator and calculator).  It weighed 30 tons, filled a large room, and used 17,000 vacuum tubes and 150,000 watts of energy.  ENIAC could store about 80 characters of information (Gates, 1995).  In the 1960s, the transistor, made from silicon, had replaced the vacuum tube and greatly reduced the size and increased the performance of the computer.  Eventually, integrated circuit chips were created that could combine several transistors on one chip.  Today, integrated circuits contain the equivalent of millions of transistors in less than one square inch (Gates, 1995).  This decreases the size and increases the performance of the computer making the personal computer a possibility.  Since the introduction of the personal computer, according to calculations from U.S. Bureau of the Census figures, the number of books published annually has increased by nearly 500 percent.

      The personal computer is a marriage between the television screen, typewriter and the "electronic brain."  With the computer screen, multi-media is possible.  Multimedia is information received through, video, text, graphics, and sound.  Information can now be received by multi-sensory input through both the visual and auditory channels, both verbally and nonverbally.  This reduces some of the problem that McLuhan (as cited in Greene, 1995) wrote about with print technology.

      The computer can also change writing through hypertext.  Hypertext eliminates linear writing and reading and some of the problems associated with linear writing and reading.

      A marriage between telephone (with fiber optic cable) and the computer constitutes the internet.  The fiber optic cable is an alternative to wire cable.  It is made out of plastic or glass so smooth and clear that if we look through a wall of this material seventy miles thick we could see a candle burning on the other side (Gates, 1995).  Greater amounts of information can pass through fiber optics in the form of light than that through a wire cable in the form of electric impulses.  This gives rise to the possibility of an "information superhighway" and the internet.

      The internet consists of several servers linked by phone lines.  A server is the equivalent to a phone company (Kane, 1996).  Through the server, individuals can connects via their own personal computer through what is called a site.  By way of their site, they have access to all the information others chose to leave at their sites.

      The internet began in the 1960s by the U.S. government (Kane, 1996).  In the event of a war, government officials did not want to be in just one location.  The internet was created so they could be located in several places across the country and still keep in contact with each other.  The idea of the internet spread to educational systems and now it is widely accessed for personal uses.

      A marriage between multi-media and the internet is called the world-wide-web (Kane, 1996).  Through the world-wide-web, individuals have access to information stored in multi-media.  A further marriage between the world-wide-web and hypertext can create a mass information system storing of all the worlds information in multi-media fashion accessible to anyone who has a computer terminal anywhere around the world. 

by Jay Ligda

(This work is a all or part of an original work first published/written for John. F. Kennedy University:  Final Integrative Project., Mar1996.)

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  • Grun, B.  (1975).  The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events.  New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
  • Greene, D. (1995).  Embodying Holism:  A Somatic Perspective on Communication.  Dissertation.  Columbus, OH:  Ohio State University.
  • Gates, B.  (1995).  The Road Ahead.  New York, NY: Penguin.
  • Kane, R.  (1996, February).  "Internet Intensive."  Lecture and workshop presented at The Learning Annex, San Francisco, CA.
  • Schrage, M.  (1995, July).  "Revolutionary Evolutionist."  Wired.  120-123.
  • U.S. Bureau of the Census.  (1955, 1965, 1975, 1985, & 1994).  Statistical Abstract of the United StatesVol. 76, 86, 96, 105, & 114.  Washington D.C.


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