What is computing?
There is no single, universal definition of what computing is, perhaps because it is one of the newest-origin sciences, albeit a more vertiginous and rampant development.
In many academic spaces, they usually differentiate between this discipline and computer science (or computer engineering), considering that the latter has a more theoretical approach to the subject. In contrast, computing always has a practical and applied side, linked with electronic devices.
On the other hand, others consider computer science, computer engineering, information systems, information technology, and software engineering as sub-disciplines of computing.
In any case, computing as a discipline has to do with the automatic processing of information through electronic devices and computer systems. The latter has three basic functions: data entry (input), data processing, and transmission. of results (output).
Characteristics of computing
Informatics, broadly speaking, can be characterized as follows:
- Its object of study can be summarized in the automated treatment of information using computerized digital systems.
- Although theoretical and practical approaches to computer systems are proposed, it is not an experimental science.
- He borrows the formal language of logic and mathematics to express the relationships between data systems and their operations.
- It is one of the youngest scientific disciplines, formally emerged in the second half of the 20th century.
Hhistory of computing
Contrary to popular belief, computing predates the invention of computers. It has very old antecedents in the mental calculation machines of the philosophers of Greek Antiquity, such as Euclid (c. 325-265 BC) and its famous algorithm, or the mechanical calculators of the 17th century and the programmable machines of the XIX century.
However, in the first half of the 20th century, the technology necessary to develop the first computers was created. Among these advances are the vacuum tube, logic gates, and the first circuits, which opened a field of knowledge that very soon revolutionized all the others and changed the way we think about work.
Work on algorithms was also central during the first three decades of the century, under the genius of figures such as the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954). On the other hand, the context of the Second World War prompted the first automatic calculators that were arranged to decipher the enemy’s war codes.
The first fully programmable and automatic calculating machine was invented in 1941, called the Z3, and in 1944 the first electromechanical machine at Harvard University in the United States: the Mark I.
Since then, computer systems have continued to change. New technologies such as transistors, semiconductors, and various information storage mechanisms were incorporated, from punched cards to the first magnetic tapes.
The first computer in history was the ENIAC (1946), from the University of Pennsylvania, which occupied a full room. It was the first of several generations of computing systems to come, ever smaller and more powerful.
The first computer schools, within the framework of universities, emerged between the 1950s and 1960s. In parallel, the emerging but powerful computer industry permeated all other areas of human knowledge in just 60 years of development.
What is computing for?
Information technology has as its key purpose the storage and retrieval of information, which has been one of humanity’s key concerns since the dawn of time. In this sense, the first storage system was writing itself, which allowed messages to be encoded and later retrieved through marks on a surface.
Seen in this way, computing has taken that same principle to the maximum, creating systems and devices that store, produce, transmit, and reproduce the information in a massive, efficient, and fast way. It is not for nothing that computing intervenes today in practically all other fields of knowledge in one way or another.
Importance of computing
The importance of computing today could not be more evident. In a hyper-technological and hyperconnected world, information has become one of the most precious assets in the world. The complex computer systems that we have built allow us to manage it faster and more efficiently than ever before in history.
Computing is one of the most demanded disciplines in the world university market. It has the largest and fastest job output since almost no aspect of daily life is still kept on the fringes of the digital world and large information processing systems.
The big data (or “big information”) that our devices collect from us is evidence of this: we live in the information age, and computing then couldn’t be more important.
The most basic concepts in computing are hardware and software.
The hardware is the physical aspect, rigid, concrete, and tangible computer systems. Thus, they are the parts and components that we can touch, exchange, break, etc., something like the “body” of the computer.
This category includes vital processing components (such as the calculation processor) or storage devices ( memory and hard disks) and peripheral devices, which are independent accessories of the system connected to it to enable you to perform various functions.
Depending on what these functions are, we can talk about:
- Input devices. Those that allow information to be entered into the system, such as a keyboard, mouse, webcam, or scanner.
- Output devices. Those that allow you to extract or recover information from the system, such as a monitor, a printer, or speakers.
- Input / output devices . Those that are capable of performing both functions simultaneously or in successions, such as a multifunctional printer, or a touch monitor.
The software would become the computer system’s mind, intangible, abstract, and only accessible through the system. There are many types of software, some of which come pre-installed in critical sectors of the computer. In contrast, others serve as an interface between the system and users, govern devices, control resources, and allow the installation of secondary programs that the user wants.
Thus, we can talk about:
- Operating software or operating systems, those programs that are needed for the minimum operation of the system and for the user to have access to its resources. These are the fundamental programs that provide the user with an operating environment and that regulate access to the physical resources of the system, such as memory, the processor, etc.
- Application software, those programs that the user installs in the system later, offers certain functions, ranging from work to leisure: video games, word processors, graphic design programs, antivirus programs, web browsers, etc.
Computer technology means the study, development, management, and implementation of automated computer systems, especially software.
Thus, specialists in computer technology are dedicated to different areas of computer activity, such as software design, the establishment of computer networks, the management of computer systems, the design of databases, etc. Its purpose is to facilitate the implementation of these technologies in business, production, or organizational settings.