The Computer Industry

Computers allow us to talk to anyone anywhere in the world. It is no surprise that the computer industry and the Internet have grown up together. Computer technology has turned the old saying, “bigger is better” on its head as computers have gotten smaller and more powerful. Bob McNamara of Mindspring Enterprises notes that the first computers were very expensive and very big. They filled rooms and required many technicians to maintain them. Originally, there were only few large computers in the United States and scientists had to travel to the computer in order to use it. The Internet was developed as scientists found ways to access the computers electronically without traveling to them. While the Internet was considered powerful when it was put into use, the first machines connected to it had a capacity of only16 kilobytes of memory. Many watches and pocket calculators today have more memory than the entire Internet when it first started. Certainly the Internet has changed the way we do business. For example, companies can sell products online which means they no longer have to rent a building, put up a billboard, or publish a catalog. Alan Taetle, also of Mindspring Enterprises, talks about Amazon booksellers, an online company with no inventory that is a very successful business. Both McNamara and Taetle work at a company that helps others get on the Internet. Taetle shows how the Web site for Chattahoochee Elementary School in Duluth provides helpful links for visitors, including homework help. McNamara notes that with computers, change is constant, and students have to learn how to keep up with change in order to be successful.

Teacher tip: Ask students to review their school Web page and then compare it with the Web page of a school in a different school system. Students should work in small groups and list features and links they would like to see included on their school Web page.