I didn’t usher in the age of electronics and computers with enthusiasm. I wanted nothing to do with those “damn” things. I avoided using personal computers until 2002. At that time I was forced to use them. Chained to the desk, with a whip cracking over me as I tried to get away, forced to learn. Windows 98 was the starting point for me, and everyone told me just how easy it would be. I found it very easy…to crash the employment office’s system! They told me go ahead, you can’t hurt anything, just play with it for a while. I tried and ended up in some corner of cyber-space, where no one like myself had gone before. I thought I could find my way back, so I pushed a couple of keys and the system went offline.
Forward to a brighter future, I got the basics figured out, thanks to the instruction of computer geeks at a learning center. With that crash course I was able to open windows, and successfully navigate the
world-wide web, without further incident. That didn’t make me like computers. It only enabled me to fill out job applications without causing more problems, although that seemed to make the employment office happy.
In 2008 I got one of those stupid things for my very own. Yes, I got a computer and started to really play with it. The machine was not top of the line, nor a powerful brute. It was old, sluggish and ugly, truly obsolete, and just right for me. It was manufactured in 2001, placed in a storeroom at Office Depot, and overlooked until 2006. The poor old thing was then donated to the job fair as a prize, and my daughter won it! She used it for a time and then moved out of the house to see the world for herself. She gave it to me, to take care of and eventually got herself another one. So I had the means to really start to learn what a computer was, and what it could do.
The computer was able to take me online where I learned it was HARDWARE. I wasn’t too impressed with hardware. It was just another thing to catch dust, and it was constantly needing to be recharged. That was a chore in itself, as I lived in the woods without power and had to run a generator just to have modern lighting. I took the computer to town whenever I went, so I could go online and see what the “internet” was really about.
I found free programs on a site I landed on. Sourceforge.com, that’s the site. Free, always to my liking, appealed to me, and exciting programs I could download was just too good to be believed. I didn’t even give it a second thought. I Downloaded everything that caught my attention. I found out the site I had visited was full of “freeware” and “shareware”. It didn’t cost anything and I could experiment with different programs. I will have to blame that site for my newfound addiction. Software! It was like heroine, I couldn’t get enough. I had to try more. I filled my hard-drive with programs about anything I was interested in.
Software, I am still amazed with the stuff. You can’t feel, see, taste,hear or touch it, but it can do things in a way that inspires magic. It’s a wonder to me, as software is only “direction in machine language”. I wish I were as addicted to other directions, such as how I should have planned my future. Had those directions been as exciting as software, I just might have. If I had, had a clue earlier, I might have been inspired to go digital long ago.
Software comes in many forms although it can’t be seen. It is gray, but we all know there are 50 shades of gray. You wonder how I know this? Software is a gray area. This magical stuff, has actually been around even before computers were first built.
Origins of computer science
An outline (algorithm) for what would have been the first piece of software was written by Ada Lovelace in the 19th century, for the planned Analytical Engine. However, neither the Analytical Engine, nor any software for it, were ever created.
The first theory about software – prior to the creation of computers as we know them today – was proposed by Alan Turing in his 1935 essay Computable numbers with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem (decision problem).
In mathematics and computer science, the Entscheidungsproblem (pronounced [ɛntˈʃaɪ̯dʊŋspʁoˌbleːm], German for ‘decision problem’) is a challenge posed by David Hilbert in 1928.
This eventually led to the creation of the twin academic fields of computer science and software engineering, which both study software and its creation. Computer science is more theoretical (Turing’s essay is an example of computer science), whereas software engineering is focused on more practical concerns.
However, prior to 1946, software as we now understand it – programs stored in the memory of stored-program digital computers – did not yet exist. The very first electronic computing devices were instead rewired in order to “reprogram” them – see History of computing hardware.
So, software was a real boon to the modern world. Today we use modern computing devices and software everyday, and can’t even comprehend how we lived or functioned without it. Without software I wouldn’t be able to blog and describe any of this to you. Software goes at the speed of light, so we’ll be trying to catch up with it forever. Even though It can’t be seen with the naked eye, I did manage to get a picture of some before it sped away.