Information Technology. What we know, and what it is.

Information Technology What we Know and what it is

Have you ever given a thought about IT? Of course you have. But do you know what it means? You probably do, its Information Technology. Not impressed?

Let me ask you, where does IT come from, when and where did it actually start? Well, you are about to get startled. Information technology exists since apes turned into humans. Let me explain it you first a little briefly. The term Information Technology itself means the system or systems used to share information. It includes the storing, retrieving and sharing of information. Now, information can be anything.

It is “knowledge that you get about someone or something” (Merriam-Webster, N.D.). So basically, anything that can give you knowledge about something or someone can be said to be information. And the method used to deliver the knowledge can be called Information Technology.

Now let’s talk about the beginning of IT. The first time IT was used, is classified as “Pre-mechanical” era. In the present times, most of the information is digital, however, if we talk about “Pre-mechanical” times (that’s the time between roughly 3000 BC and 1500 AD), there was no digital, well there wasn’t even electricity.

So what did they do?

They used petroglyphs. Ever visited a cave and saw carvings or pictures on the walls?

Well they are called “Petroglyphs”.

In around 3000 BC, the Sumerians (people of the Sumer civilization) in Mesopotamia came up with cuneiform. It is a system of writing by making impressions on a stone or something you can write on. It marked the beginning of writing system. This “impression” writing was then developed into “Phoenician alphabets”. The language initially used symbols to depict the information. With time, this method kept evolving. Important of all, the Greeks adopted it and added vowels, then the Romans gave names to these symbols and this is where we got out modern English language from. While the letters were getting overhaul, numbers were being born in another part of the world. In India the number system was already developed and was being used widely in today’s Asia. This was around 100 BC. Interestingly however, the number 0 wasn’t introduced until 800 years after numbering system! And guess who invented the idea? The Indians. Now this is all the information part. Let me tell you about technology bit of it. Though the information kept evolving, the technology used was more or less the same, carving on a stone. There were books present in Egypt made of papyrus (bark of a papyrus plant), however, things changed in 100 BC when paper was invented in China. This was a very big leap in Information Technology. It marks a beginning of sharing of information.

Next came the “Mechanical” era. Though abacus was already around since 500 BC (something that even the historians are in a debate for), the mechanical age is said to start from 1450 AD. A lot of technology was developed during this era. It all began with the development of a printing machine: the metal movable-type printer developed by Johannes Gutenberg. The suit was followed and many other mechanical equipment’s were developed. The machinery that was developed later could do a lot more than just adding or subtracting. They were calculators who could perform multiplication, division and also square and cubical root. Slide rule, the Pascaline and Leibniz’s machine are just some of the examples of mechanical calculators that were developed who could do a lot more than just adding. Then came the Jacquard’s loom. It was demonstrated in 1801. It is a benchmark in computing because it also helped in the development of the idea of memory, without which, the modern IT world we live in is not possible.

One of the biggest change came in IT when we learnt how to harness, use and also make electricity. The time period between 1840 and 1940 is said to be electromechanical in terms of information technology. The technology that was developed in that era was (mainly) telecommunication. Communication already existed, however, it was about to be revamped. Mr. Samuel Morse developed telegraph, followed by Morse code. They were pioneers in the long distance communication and transfer of information, until Graham Bell, in 1876, decided to grace the world and invented the telephone. The world started getting shorter. It transmits sound via electricity. The next genius was Marconi, who invented the radio and showed the world the power of wireless. Electricity started working its magic on computers in 1940’s. The mother of all modern computing, the Mark 1, was created in 1940 by Harvard University. It is the first (almost) complete automatic computer (though it was programmed by punch cards). The personal computer we have today, is a smaller sized Mark 1 (theoretically of course) but what matters is, it marked the beginning of the world we live in.

So now you know that when we say IT, it just doesn’t mean what we think it means, it more than that. Talking about the latest IT methods, I’m sure you are familiar with it. Or at least part of it. If you want to know more about modern IT, the next era, also known as “Electronic age”, you can read about it here.