Computers in Libraries 2020 has been Postponed! See our Announcement for more information.
Generation Next: Preparing for New Technologies
Computers in Libraries provides a unique, annual opportunity for library and information professionals from all over the world to gather together and discuss the myriad of ways technology continues to impact libraries and the people who use them. Join more than 1,000 of your peers to learn, share, and celebrate the technologies and people that are shaping the future of libraries.
At Computers in Libraries you’ll hear the innovative approaches that the world’s leading libraries are deploying in all types of settings. The next generation of technology and people, Generation Next, will be ushering in new and exciting perspectives, strategies, programs, communities and more in the coming years. From management and funding tips, to serious evaluation of emerging technology and internet revolutions, to furthering our search and organization skills, to creating new positions of influence, this event has it all! No matter what your job role, or what type of library or organization, you’ll find that all of the bases are covered at Computers in Libraries.
You can expect to leave Computers in Libraries with new friends and professional allies and actionable advice and tactics for moving your organization forward. Join us in March in Arlington, VA for this career- and organization-changing opportunity.
Computers in Libraries 2020 offers more networking opportunities than ever before. Register today and get access to these special events!
Knowing how to program a computer is good for you, and it’s a shame more people don’t learn to do it.
For years now, that’s been a hugely popular stance. It’s led to educational initiatives as effortless sounding as the Hour of Code (offered by Code.org) and as obviously ambitious as Code Year (spearheaded by Codecademy).
Even President Obama has chimed in. Last December, he issued a YouTube video in which he urged young people to take up programming, declaring that “learning these skills isn’t just important for your future, it’s important for our country’s future.”
I find the “everybody should learn to code” movement laudable. And yet it also leaves me wistful, even melancholy. Once upon a time, knowing how to use a computer was virtually synonymous with knowing how to program one. And the thing that made it possible was a programming language called BASIC.
John Kemeny shows off his vanity license plate in 1967
Adrian N. Bouchard / Dartmouth College
Invented by John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, BASIC was first successfully used to run programs on the school’s General Electric computer system 50 years ago this week–at 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, to be precise.
The two math professors deeply believed that computer literacy would be essential in the years to come, and designed the language–its name stood for “Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code”–to be as approachable as possible. It worked: at first at Dartmouth, then at other schools.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, when home computers came along, BASIC did as much as anything else to make them useful. Especially the multiple versions of the language produced by a small company named Microsoft. That’s when I was introduced to the language; when I was in high school, I was more proficient in it than I was in written English, because it mattered more to me. (I happen to have been born less than a month before BASIC was, which may or may not have anything to do with my affinity for it.)
BASIC wasn’t designed to change the world. “We were thinking only of Dartmouth,” says Kurtz, its surviving co-creator. (Kemeny died in 1992.) “We needed a language that could be ‘taught’ to virtually all students (and faculty) without their having to take a course.”
A pro-BASIC sign, as seen in a Russian school computer lab in the mid-1980s
Their brainchild quickly became the standard way that people everywhere learned to program computers, and remained so for many years. But thinking of its invention as a major moment only in the history of computer languages dramatically understates its significance.
In the mid-1960s, using a computer was generally like playing chess by mail: You used a keypunch to enter a program on cards, turned them over to a trained operator and then waited for a printout of the results, which might not arrive until the next day. BASIC and the platform it
It’s really simple to set up. Create an account or log in to get started.
The computer was born not for entertainment or email but out of a need to solve a serious number-crunching crisis. By 1880, the U.S. population had grown so large that it took more than seven years to tabulate the U.S. Census results. The government sought a faster way to get the job done, giving rise to punch-card based computers that took up entire rooms.
Today, we carry more computing power on our smartphones than was available in these early models. The following brief history of computing is a timeline of how computers evolved from their humble beginnings to the machines of today that surf the Internet, play games and stream multimedia in addition to crunching numbers.
1801: In France, Joseph Marie Jacquard invents a loom that uses punched wooden cards to automatically weave fabric designs. Early computers would use similar punch cards.
1822: English mathematician Charles Babbage conceives of a steam-driven calculating machine that would be able to compute tables of numbers. The project, funded by the English government, is a failure. More than a century later, however, the world’s first computer was actually built.
1890: Herman Hollerith designs a punch card system to calculate the 1880 census, accomplishing the task in just three years and saving the government $5 million. He establishes a company that would ultimately become IBM.
1936: Alan Turing presents the notion of a universal machine, later called the Turing machine, capable of computing anything that is computable. The central concept of the modern computer was based on his ideas.
1937: J.V. Atanasoff, a professor of physics and mathematics at Iowa State University, attempts to build the first computer without gears, cams, belts or shafts.
1939: Hewlett-Packard is founded by David Packard and Bill Hewlett in a Palo Alto, California, garage, according to the Computer History Museum.
1941: Atanasoff and his graduate student, Clifford Berry, design a computer that can solve 29 equations simultaneously. This marks the first time a computer is able to store information on its main memory.
1943-1944: Two University of Pennsylvania professors, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, build the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator (ENIAC). Considered the grandfather of digital computers, it fills a 20-foot by 40-foot room and has 18,000 vacuum tubes.
1946: Mauchly and Presper leave the University of Pennsylvania and receive funding from the Census Bureau to build the UNIVAC, the first commercial computer for business and government applications.
1947: William Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain of Bell Laboratories invent the transistor. They discovered how to make an electric switch with solid materials and no need for a vacuum.
1953: Grace Hopper develops the first computer language, which eventually becomes known as COBOL. Thomas Johnson Watson Jr., son of IBM CEO Thomas Johnson Watson Sr., conceives the IBM 701 EDPM to help the United Nations keep tabs on Korea during the war.
1954: The FORTRAN programming language, an acronym for FORmula TRANslation, is developed
A computer system has three main components: hardware, software, and
people. The equipment associated with a computer system is called hardware.
Software is a set of instructions that tells the hardware what to do.
People, however, are the most important component of a computer system – people use
the power of the computer for some purpose.
In fact, this course will show you that the computer can be a tool
for just about
anyone from a business person, to an artist, to a housekeeper, to a student -
an incredibly powerful and flexible tool.
Software is actually a computer program. To be more specific, a program
is a set of step-by-step instructions that directs the computer to do the
tasks you want it to do and to produce the results you want. A computer programmer
is a person who writes programs. Most of us do not write programs, we use programs
written by someone else. This means we are
users – people who purchase and use computer software.
What is a computer? A six-year-old called a computer “radio, movies, and
television combined!” A ten-year-old described a computer as “a television
set you can talk to.” The ten-year-old’s definition is closer but still does not
recognize the computer as a machine that has the power to make changes.
A computer is a machine that can be programmed to accept data (input),
process it into useful information (output), and store it away (in a secondary
storage device) for safekeeping or later reuse. The processing of
input to output is directed by the software but performed by the hardware.
To function, a computer system requires four main aspects of data handling: input,
processing, output, and storage. The hardware
responsible for these four areas operates as follows:
Now let us consider the equipment related to these four aspects of data
handling in terms of what you would find on a personal computer.
Being a modern-day kid you must have used, seen, or read about computers. This is because they are an integral part of our everyday existence. Be it school, banks, shops, railway stations, hospital or your own home, computers are present everywhere, making our work easier and faster for us. As they are such integral parts of our lives, we must know what they are and how they function. Let us start with defining the term computer formally.
The literal meaning of computer is a device that can calculate. However, modern computers can do a lot more than calculate. Computer is an electronic device that receives input, stores or processes the input as per user instructions and provides output in desired format.
Computer input is called data and the output obtained after processing it, based on user’s instructions is called information. Raw facts and figures which can be processed using arithmetic and logical operations to obtain information are called data.
The processes that can be applied to data are of two types −
Arithmetic operations − Examples include calculations like addition, subtraction, differentials, square root, etc.
The corresponding figure for an actual computer looks something like this −
The basic parts of a computer are as follows −
Input Unit − Devices like keyboard and mouse that are used to input data and instructions to the computer are called input unit.
Output Unit − Devices like printer and visual display unit that are used to provide information to the user in desired format are called output unit.
Control Unit − As the name suggests, this unit controls all the functions of the computer. All devices or parts of computer interact through the control unit.
Arithmetic Logic Unit − This is the brain of the computer where all arithmetic operations and logical operations take place.
Memory − All input data, instructions and data interim to the processes are stored in the memory. Memory is of two types – primary memory and secondary memory. Primary memory resides within the CPU whereas secondary memory is external to it.
Control unit, arithmetic logic unit and memory are together called the central processing unit or CPU. Computer devices like keyboard, mouse, printer, etc. that we can see and touch are the hardware components of a computer. The set of instructions or programs that make the computer function using these hardware parts are called software. We cannot see or touch software. Both hardware and software are necessary for working of a computer.
To understand why computers are such an important part of our lives, let us look at some of its characteristics −
Speed − Typically, a computer can carry out 3-4 million instructions per second.
Accuracy − Computers exhibit a very high degree of accuracy. Errors that may occur are usually due to inaccurate data, wrong instructions or bug
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If the Adobe Reader does not appear when you click on a link for a PDF file, you can download Adobe Reader from the Adobe web site.
Why, given the advanced state of laptops, would you want to buy a desktop PC or Mac nowadays? Simply put: sheer muscle and computing comfort. Mobile devices like laptops and tablets simply can’t fill some computing needs as well as the stalwart desktop.
Desktop-class CPUs and graphics processors are more powerful than their mobile counterparts for the same money. They give you the grunt to finish whatever task you’re working on in less time. Your money goes further with desktop components in general, too, so instead of buying a $500 laptop with a competent Intel Core i3 processor, you can buy a $500 desktop with a more powerful Intel Core i5 desktop CPU in it and maybe even squeeze in a dedicated graphics card.
You can get desktops with screens that are already built in (see our guide to the best all-in-one PCs), or they can be connected externally to a monitor. In either case, you’ll get a bigger display than even the largest desktop-replacement laptop, which tops out at about 18 inches in screen size. Another plus is that expandable desktops can accommodate multiple graphics cards to support sky-high frame rates for competitive gaming or powering through the latest titles on super-fine 4K displays.
For some sensitive situations, buying a desktop gives you physical control of the computer and its use. Limiting access to desktop PCs lets you control who sees confidential business data, and the combination of a desktop PC and a large screen means that parents can monitor what their children are doing online via a quick glance across the room.
The Mac vs. PC debate is one of the oldest in modern technology, and we’re not going to pick a side here. But if you’re of an open mind, not wedded to one or the other by years of habit, and are considering a switch, here’s a quick rundown of your choices.
Windows 10($139.99 at Amazon) is the latest iteration of Microsoft’s operating system. Desktops that use it and previous versions of the OS are what most people typically rely on, so you’ll be assured of the best compatibility and widest selection of third-party software. This also applies to browser plug-ins, since some only work with Windows.
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Apple’s macOS is an excellent choice if you’re already in an Apple-centric household. It interfaces seamlessly with devices like iPads and iPhones, with all your iTunes purchases and subscriptions, and lets you receive iMessages on any device connected to your iCloud account.
Although it’s less prevalent than Windows or macOS in desktop PCs, Google also has its own PC operating system, called Chrome OS. Many apps designed for Windows and macOS also have Chrome OS versions now, including the popular Microsoft Office suite. Many Chrome OS-powered PCs can also run any Android-based app available for download from the Google Play store,
Desktop computers handle a variety of functions, which makes gaming, surfing the Internet and working fast and efficient. With many different styles to choose from, desktop computers are versatile machines for virtually any home, office or dormitory. Desktop PCs and All-In-One models are loaded with storage space to hold songs, videos or important documents, while gaming computers with plenty of memory deliver high speeds to help during epic battles. An HD monitor offers stunning visuals for watching movies, playing games and working on presentations. A desktop computer will make it easy to transition between work and play. Check out a large selection of desktop PCs to enjoy an enhanced multimedia experience.
Desktop PCs provide more than just the basic requirements. Many desktop PCs are preloaded with features such as a well-known operating system, connectivity options and other applications. Most PCs have wireless connectivity built in, so you can access websites, online gaming portals and e-mail applications with no need for extra cords or cables.
If a computer that can handle a wide variety of applications is needed, an all-in-one computer is the answer. These versatile models offer massive hard drive space to store audio and video files as well as computer games and assignments for work or class. Some All-In-One computers feature webcams and touch-enabled screens for an even greater intuitive experience.
For a great value, check view the selection of refurbished computers. They deliver all of the main functions of other computers, and many even come with a keyboard and a mouse. Refurbished computers comply with the manufacturer’s original specifications for increased peace of mind.
Choose a gaming desktop with a high-speed processor and a large amount of memory to help dominate opponents from all over the globe on the battlefield or the racetrack. Quality graphics cards ensure that these desktops turn any night of gaming into an intense atmosphere.
These compact devices make it easy to take work home from the office or the classroom. You can attach a cable to the security lock slot to keep your PC safe.
Businesses that deal with large amounts of data should consider a barebones computer. The system can be customized to support different processors and help keep your network going strong.