Computers have grown from obscurity to being absolute must-have devices in the space of just half a century. In the 1950’s, computers were huge in size and they required the space of a complete room just to contain them. In those days, computers had many moving mechanical parts and they were noisy, clunky and slow. In the 50’s, it was really only the government and government-backed programs that had access to computers.
During the 1970’s the potential for computers began to be seen. Still, developers were years away from producing the computers that we now literally take for granted. Two key developments brought about the every day computer use that we experience today. One was the development of the microprocessor and the other was the development of the Windows operating system that suddenly made using a computer as easy as clicking on graphical icons. Prior to Windows, most computer users had to write text commands to make their computers do what they wanted.
The development of the microprocessor pretty much changed everything as far as computers were concerned. The microchip was revolutionary to the development of computers. They reduced the size of computers and increased their speeds. Since microprocessors were fairly inexpensive to make, they also reduced the cost of owning a computer. This allowed for the widespread use of computers both for commercial use, educational use and for the every day consumer. Today, computer manufacturers continue to work on increasing the speed of computers and reducing their size. Science labs all over the world experiment with different ways to accomplish more and more speed.
Currently, according to the LINPACK Benchmark standard, the largest and the fastest computer in the world is housed in Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It has been developed by Cray, Inc. and it is called the Cray XT5 but nicknamed, “the Jaguar”. Measured against other computers using algebraic equations, this computer performs the fastest. It is said to have 1.75 petaflops of speed. It breaks all types of records and is the first computer to push the envelope, sustaining performance of over a petaflop on a 64-bit scientific application. Although that is a whole lot of tech talk, it basically means that this computer is extremely fast! It has 224,000 processing cores which allows the computer run at lightening speeds.
Currently, this high speed computer exists in a science lab only. However its development will ultimately trickle down to the every day consumer and effect the speed of future computer models. Huge amounts of money are invested in advancing every aspect of computer hardware and software. Up to now, we have seen extremely rapid advancements in computer technology not just with every passing decade but with every passing year… and things only seem to be speeding up.