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History and Personalities of Information Technology

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History and Personalities of Information Technology essay

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Information Technology

Information Technology is an important and intelligent field of study. It is concerned with all aspects of managing and processing electronic information, especially in the business world, where computers are vital for data management. In today’s competitive environment, almost every company’s business strategy relies on the use of information systems in order to succeed and grow into the future(john Brandwagt).

Historical Development of Information Technology

Every generation faces many problems, and they have to solve their problems, which is the mystery behind any technology and the common reason of all inventions in the world of technology from the past until now. Indeed, solving problems is the focus in information technology field from the first story in the past until now. In the past, many people attempted to find machines that helped them to solve their problems, focusing on the advantage of technology, which is efficiency.Wilhelm Schickard, Blaise Pascal, Charles Babbage, and George Boole are the most famous historical inventors in the world of information technology.

(The development of information technology is examined in four principal areas, namely, computer technology, software technology, information systems, and manufacturing systems. The organizational and societal impact of information technology is assessed at four different levels—namely, individual, group, organization, and society –within the ontological and epistemological framework. The issues discussed include ergonomics, stress, job satisfaction, attitude, industrial relations, leadership, power, politics, decision making, organization structure, organizational change, quality of working life, working at home, and neighbourhood work centre)

The Importance of History

History is very significant field because the meaning of anything is linked to its origin. In other words, everything in the world has origin or history; however, if we understand the origin or the development of something, we will be able to understand everything about it. For example, in order to understand something about a people group or about another culture, we have to understand their history because the only way to understand them is studying their history. In fact, historyhelps us to understand the present, deal with it, and predict the future. Studying the history of technology, we must know its purpose, its field, and its origin “where it came from” in order to understand the current technology.

Wilhelm Schickard

Starting from the seventeenth century in Germany, Wilhelm Schickard, who was a Lutheran minister and professor of astronomy and mathematics, conceived a design of a mechanical calculator. According to Beth (2001) that in1623 atUniversity ofTübingen,Professor Schickard, who was a mathematician, built a working model of the first mechanical calculator. The principles of Schickard’s called ‘calculating clock’, which can add, subtract, and provide hints for multiplication. This invention was undiscovered until 1957. In fact, Schickard was a friend of Kepler, and they were interested in astronomy; therefore, Schickard offered to Kepler to develop a mechanical means of calculating ephemerides.

Herman (2001) stated ‘In 1957 Dr. Franz Hammer, who then assistant curator of Kepler’s papers, discovered some letters from Schickard to Keplerboth of whom were from Wurtemberg-containing sketches and descriptions of a machine Schickard had designed and built in 1623.’ (p. 19).

In other words, Schickard had an invention early in 1963, but it was not discovered until 1957. Dr. Franz Hammer found Schickard’s invention in some papers,which belonged to Kepler. No doubt, Schickard’s calculating machine was an amazing accomplishment. Even though it was limited, it is existed in the development of modern computers. Obviously, Schickard created and developed algorithms for his invention, mechanical calculator, because he wanted to get a tool, which would help him to solve problem. Finally, I would like to mention that Schickard and Kepler were a Lutheran, and their views derived from the biblical, and they were concerned about theological issues.

Blaise Pascal

Early in 1640s in France, Blaise Pascal, who wasa Roman Catholic of the school of Port-Royal,made a mechanical calculator, which can add and subtract.According to Herman (2001), that Pascal’s father, Etienne, was a high official and following a revolt over taxes. He had to reorganize the tax structure of the area. At that time, it was hard to be able to do arithmetic even among well-educated men. Beth (2001) stated that in the 1640s, Blaise Pascal, who is French mathematical and philosopher, improved on Schickard’s model using a system of rising and falling weights, which is his machine Pascaline. Herman stated, “Pascal was reputed to have built his machine to as an aid to his father, who had need for help in computation” (Herman, 2001, p. 21)

That means, Pascal created a machinebecause his father was in a serious problem, which is related to taxes calculation, and he had to solve that problem; therefore,he created that because he wanted to get a tool, which would helphis father to solve theproblem. Certainly, Pascal’s mechanical calculator was efficient to do its work because it did not require knowing anything about the rules of arithmetic.

Lastly, I believe that Pascal’s view was derived from his religion because was a Roman Catholic of the school of Port-Royal, and he was deeply committed to an Augustinian theology. Pascal loved his religion because he always defended his religion; however, he believed evidence for and against Christianity was exactly balanced.

Charles Babbage

Later in18th century in England, Charles Babbage, who is the grandfather of computer age, designed the Difference Engine and proposed the Analytical Engine. Babbage was one of the most important scientists in the history of modern computer technology. Therefore, Babbage’s famous Engines were the first automatic computer conceived by humans, and many scientists considered it as the first step to the computer world. In fact, many of Babbage’s idea are still used in the world of technology especially into the early computers.

According to Ian (1990), ‘Babbage devoted much of his life to the design and attempted manufacture of, first, a Difference Engine, which he started in 1823, and then, from 1834, an Analytical Engine. The former was a special-purpose calculating machine, the latter a universal or multi-purpose calculator. He pursued these goals for much of his long life, but unfortunately he was ahead of his time. His machines were purely mechanical and the precision needed in their manufacture was almost beyond even such an excellent craftsman as he employed— Joseph Clement. He died a disillusioned man, but left behind him thousands of drawings that contain the basic principles upon which modern computers are built.’ (p. 50)

Babbage’s Difference Engine was a device, which accomplished multiplication and division. However, Babbage’s Engines was far more than a Schickardian and Pascalian calculator capable of storing and then manipulating data by selecting built in operations; It was able to store the sequence of operations to be performed on the data, then display that operations. Babbage’s machine did not require human intervention in its processes. In general, Babbage’s Difference Engine would have weighed several tons, and measured 8 x 7 x 3 ft. It was really large, and its cost was expensive. In fact, his proposition of Analytical Engine was similar to those ideas that are used in computer today that include an input/output unit, a unit for setting the machine in motion, a store, a mill, and a printing device to provide the results. Unquestionably, Babbage’s Difference Engine was a good start of thinking about the concept of an automatic sequential digital calculator.

Finally, I believe that Babbage’s view was derived from his religion.Charles Babbage was a great scientist. He was a convinced, orthodox Christian believer, and his ideas obviously derived from his religion. Due to the force of evidence that Babbage had, he believed that the age of humankind on the earth is far greater than Ussher’s traditional chronology would put it.

George Boole

In 1850s in Ireland, George Boole envisioned the Laws of Thought, which led him to invent the binary system, one and zero, which is the basis for every machine in the world of technology. According to Jean-Pierre (2010), that George Boole’s, who is the mathematical analysis of logic, devised the theoretical basis of binary language.

According to Beth (2001), “George Boole, who, in the 1850s, devised an algebraic system using only two digits: one and zero which is why it’s known as the binary system. Reducing the number to two allows symbolic representation via switches in either the on or off position. Such switches can be connected to a variety of storage, transmission and/or recording devices.” (p. 20)

In the light of this, it is obvious to see how George Boole affected the future of technology. His thought has been used in every single technology; therefore, Boole logic is the basis of modern digital computer. In fact, Boolean operators can be similar to arithmetic operations; two inputs produce a third value, which is output. However, Boolean operations can also be different fromarithmetic operations because they use true-false values instead numeric value that is obviously used in present machines and devices. Finally, According to Graves (1998) thatBoole held and practiced the Christian faith. That means Boole’s view was derived from his religious faith. In addition, Boole believed that human thinking is mastered by laws, which obviously affected his thought.

Worldviews

Even though we have all historical information about what, who, where, when, and why, there will be a missing link, which is the views of people. People’s views are very important especially for historical analysis. In fact, views have significant impacts on thoughts, ideas and works. Every person tries to prove his or her view to be right because that view relates to his or her personality, deriving from religious faith, culture, beliefs, parents, etc. For example, when we study chemistry, physics, mathematics, or any other sciences, we can notice the influence of the worldview.

Although Schickard, Pascal, Babbage, and Boole lived in different era, they have common vocations and professions. They are inventors, and they contributed to the success of technology, so any of their ideas are still used in the world of technology. Admittedly, they were Christian, and their views and their beliefs come from their religious faith, which reflected in their works and their inventions; therefore, they believed that there was a strong connection between their works and apologetics.

Conclusion

We study the historical development of information technology in order to understand the current technology and the meaning of information technology because the meaning of anything is linked to its origin. In addition, worldview is very important because it is a mirror that reflects what is inside every person, and it has significant impacts on the developing of information technology. Finally, nobody denies that the main reason behind every invention is to find tools for solving problems.

References

  1. Corniou, Jean-Pierre. (2010). Looking Back and Going Forward in IT. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/cuw/Doc?id=10360915
  2. Goldstine, Herman H. (2001). Computer from Pascal to von Neumann. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/cuw/Doc?id=10468685
  3. Graves, Daniel. (1998). Christian Influences in the Sciences. Retrieved from http://www.rae.org/pdf/influsci.pdf
  4. Lunt, B., & Ekstrom, J., & Gorka, S., & Hislop, G., & Kamali, R., & Lawson, E., LeBlanc, R., & Miller, J., & Reichgelt, H., (2008) Information Technology. Retrieved from http://www.acm.org/education/curricula/IT2008Curriculum.pdf
  5. McNeil, Ian (Editor). (1990). Encyclopedia of the History of Technology. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/cuw/Doc?id=10035299
  6. Porter, Beth. (2001). Net Effect. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/cuw/Doc?id=10014651
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