The Many Uses of Computer Technology
Computer technology is the science of using computers to help people do things better, faster and cheaper. It includes both the hardware–microprocessors, memory, disk drives and other devices–and software, including operating systems, authoring tools, expert systems and course ware. It also covers computer-related services, such as data management and telecommunications. Its applications range from accounting and inventory to e-mail, voice over IP and videoconferencing.
Many people have a strong interest in computer technology and pursue careers that involve it. These include computer and information technology (IT) specialists, computer programmers and software engineers. Other professionals with a background in IT are database administrators, information security specialists and network architects. Some IT workers may even find employment opportunities in the financial or government sectors.
Almost every business uses computer technology to improve efficiency and provide customer service. Computers are used to store and maintain account records, manage employees, track projects and products, create presentations and reports and communicate with customers and suppliers, both internally and externally, through e-mail. Computers are even used to process credit card transactions and handle bank deposits.
In addition to their practical use, computers are an integral part of education. Students use computers to complete assignments, research topics and communicate with teachers via e-mail and other Internet-based technologies. Tutoring services are available online to assist students with difficult subjects. Students can also take classes at home or in the workplace to earn college degrees, such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in computer technology.
Another area in which computer technology is widely used is in the manufacturing industry. Computers can simplify and accelerate design processes, enabling manufacturers to produce new products more quickly and efficiently. Engineers can more easily develop and apply innovative ideas to their designs, resulting in a lower cost of development, reduced time for prototypes, quicker production startup and improved product quality. The ability of the computer to convert a design into a fabricated product results in fewer errors in drawings and better communications with fabricators, which also reduces costs.
Other areas in which computer technology is used are medical and scientific research, where sophisticated image-processing programs are used to analyze the structure of body parts, such as skulls. This allows scientists to more accurately reconstruct human skeletons, and helps them develop medical treatments. In addition, computer software is widely used to develop artificial intelligence applications in cognitive psychology and to understand how people think.
The future of computer technology is uncertain. It is conceivable that microprocessors will reach their physical limits and stop advancing, or that other types of processors will replace them. However, if the current trend of decreasing costs for memory and hard drives continues, it is likely that computers will continue to improve in speed and power while remaining affordable. In addition, computer technology is rapidly influencing other aspects of life. For example, ATM machines, GPS units and barcode scanners are all examples of computer technology that have been adopted into consumer products.