Electronic Revolution

The electronic revolution, sometimes referred to as the technological or industrial revolution has completely changed the entire world. Everyone is reeking the benefits of technology. From electricity, to telephones, to television, to satellites, to computers, to cellular phones; technology is everywhere. The most fundamental part of anything electric is electricity. Two thousand years ago, in the 16th century, William Gilbert proved that many substances are electric and that they have two electrical effects.

In 1747, Benjamin Franklin in America and William Watson in England independently reached the same conclusion: all materials possess a single kind of electrical “fluid” that can penetrate matter freely but that can be neither created nor destroyed. The action of rubbing merely transfers the fluid from one body to another, electrifying both. Franklin and Watson originated the principle of conservation of charge: the total quantity of electricity in an insulated system is constant. One of the most important communication discoveries is the telephone.

Alexander Graham Bell is generally acknowledged as the inventor of the telephone, although a number of other inventors in his day contributed to various aspects of the device. Bell’s most important contribution was his view of the telephone as a means of communication over real distances, using human speech instead of such nonvocal codes as smoke signals, tomtoms, or Morse code. (Nally) Bell and others discovered that the sounds of speech could be converted to an electrical signal, transmitted over copper wires, and converted back to sound at the receiving device. Today’s telephone system links the entire globe.

The telephone industry in the United States alone generates about $200 billion yearly in revenues and is the largest segment of the giant communications industry. (http://www. cyberstreet… ) People can communicate instantly with each other all around the world. The automobile or car is the most widely used form of transportation. The automobile is a self-propelled, wheeled, steerable vehicle used for transporting people and small cargoes on land. Although the gasoline automobile first appeared in Germany, automotive production on a commercial scale began in France about 1890.

Commercial production in the United States began around the turn of the century and was qualitatively inferior to that in Europe. In those days the industry was an assortment of small firms, each turning out a few cars by handicraft methods. American automobile plants were assembly operations that used parts made by independent suppliers. By contrast, European companies were more likely to build the entire car themselves. (Normann) The assembly-line technique, first introduced by Henry Ford in 1908, has become virtually universal.

Almost all passenger automobiles and most commercial vehicles are made in this way. The technique has been greatly refined so that, instead of the rigid uniformity with which the Model T was turned out, a wide variety of options can be programmed into individual cars. Automation was introduced, initially for the manufacture of engines, in the early 1950s. Computer-controlled robot welding machines were first used in the 1970s; computerized machining of engine parts is a technology of the late 1980s. Today, hundreds of cars can be mass produced in a day.

Airplanes are used for quick mass transit for far distances. The first powered, controllable aircraft, Orville and Wilbur Wright’s flying machine, demonstrated in its structure the same basic principles of flight as do today’s high-flying jets. The wings of the original 1903 Wright Flyer resembled a box kite. A small pair of wings, called a canard, was located forward of the main wings and provided control about the pitch axis, allowing the aircraft to climb or descend. The canard performed the same function as the elevators that are attached to the horizontal stabilizers on most modern aircraft.

Controlled, coordinated turns in the air were achieved through a method called “wing warping,” which deflected the rear, or trailing, edges of the wing and rudder. With no cockpit, the pilot lay prone over the wing in a cradle arrangement and moved his body from side to side to actuate the controls that effected wing warping and changed the plane’s direction. (Murphy) The success of any one of the thousands of different craft made since the Wright brothers’ first flying machine depended on the quality of research, design, engineering, and manufacturing used to produce it.

By the time World War II began, the aviation industry had accumulated enough experience in aerodynamics, materials, and structures to ensure uniformity in aircraft development. As a result, most modern aircraft exhibit many structural similarities. They are almost always monoplanes–single- rather than double-winged. (Truman) They are made of metal, are powered by one to four jet or reciprocating engines, and are supported on the ground by retractable landing gear. Television and radio are the most popular forms of entertainment and late-breaking news.

From the 1950s, when television viewing first became common in the United States, until the mid-1970s the technology available to the television audience was relatively simple and consisted essentially of a TV set. The last decades, however, have seen an explosion of new devices for home entertainment, all of them outgrowths of basic television technology. The entire field, including television itself, is now referred to as video, a word that includes in its meaning almost all the systems devoted to electronically creating images.

There are now devices hooked to television to enhance the viewing experience, such as VCRs, DVD players, surround sound, etc. Before the television, radios were introduced in 1922. News and variety shows as well as music played all day. I remember siting around the radio with my family and listening to all the stories and series. It was like shows [on television] today without the picture. They continue each week. (Dant) Along with radios today, other devices like CD and cassette players are integrated in with the radio.

Radio and television broadcasting is a firmly established element of American life. The A. C. Nielsen Company, which measures audience size, reported in 1992 that 98. 2 % of U. S. homes contained at least one television and that the average set is turned on for seven hours per day. More than 60% of television viewers receive their news from their sets rather than from newspapers, and over half that number trust television more than the newspapers. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, in 1990 only 1% of U. S. homes had no radio, and the average household owned at least five radios. Bergreen) A new revolution called computers is taking the world by storm.

Many companies, such as Apple Computer and Tandy, introduced very successful personal computers in the 1970s. Augmented in part by a fad in computer, or video, games, development of these small computers expanded rapidly. (Carlton, p. 358) The direct or indirect influence of computers is now nearly universal. Computers are used in applications as diverse as running a farm, diagnosing a disease, and designing, constructing, and launching a space vehicle.

Science is a field in which computers have been widely applied from the start. Because the development of computers has been largely the work of scientists, it is natural that a large body of computer applications serves the scientist. In order to solve scientific problems it is inevitable that researchers must deal with the language of science: mathematics. In attempting to understand more deeply complex natural phenomena, the scientist must use mathematical relationships that become increasingly difficult, as well as data that becomes more voluminous.

It would be impossible to manage many of the studies of complex scientific phenomena without the aid of computers. Many scientific computer programs inevitably serve the entire population. An area in which this can be seen and which has experienced a steady growth in computer technology is farming. When computers are now used to analyze data concerning the feed intake, size, and food content of farm animals, the benefits of such analyses eventually trickle down to many people, mainly because of efficiencies in production that result. Harmann)

Americans are receptive to the [computer] revolution and optimistic about its impact. A new poll indicates that nearly 80% of Americans expect that in the fairly near future, home computers will be a commonplace as television sets or dishwashers. Although they see dangers of unemployment and dehumanization, solid majorities feel that the computer revolution will ultimately raise production and therefore living standards (67%), and that it will improve the quality of their children’s education (68%). (Price)

Businesses now use computers extensively and on a worldwide basis. A well-known example is the banking industry, which is almost entirely dependent on computers. Automated bank tellers are now ubiquitous and are little more than input-output devices for a bank’s computer. They are also an example of the powerful system called computer networking, in which computers, databases, and input-output devices are connected by means of wire, fiber optic cable, or satellite transmission, sometimes over great distances. The banking business is typical of many businesses today.

The problems of record keeping and availability of information are similar in all types of businesses, and the computer is the perfect tool for dealing with such concerns. Satellites are quick ways of sending information to anyone in the world. An artificial satellite is an object placed into orbit around the Earth for the purpose of scientific research, Earth applications, or military reconnaissance. In April and July 1955 the USSR and the United States, respectively, announced plans to launch such satellites for the International Geophysical Year.

Accordingly, the USSR launched Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957, and the United States launched Explorer 1 on Jan. 31, 1958. These two satellites provided an enormous stimulus for further work on artificial satellites, especially with the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts made possible by Explorer 1. All artificial satellites have certain features in common. They include radar for altitude measurements, sensors such as optical devices in observation satellites, receivers and transmitters in communications satellites, and stable radio-signal sources in navigation satellites.

Numerous satellites are orbited to observe the space environment of the Earth or to study the Sun, stars, and extragalactic objects over a wide range of wavelengths. Cellular phones are the fad of today. Cellular telephones are wireless devices that use broadcast radio signals as their medium of communications. Developed in the early 1980s for telephones in automobiles, the cellular system divides an area into clusters of “cells. ” To eliminate interference, neighboring cells do not use precisely the same radio frequencies, but the frequencies used in each cluster may be repeated in adjacent clusters.

As the phone user moves away from the transmitter, the signal is switched automatically to the neighboring cell. In the years since its introduction, cellular phone technology has been miniaturized to the point where a typical mobile phone today can fit into a pocket, and the typical cell phone user is just as often on foot as in an automobile. In the future, this radio-based wireless technology will become the nexus for a whole range of digitized “Personal Communications Services” that will also include the transmission of computer data, visual images, paging, and voice-mail messages.

In 1994 the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to sell at auction more than 2,000 local and regional licenses that will use the radio bandwidths for PCS systems. Plans are also under way to transmit PCS signals worldwide through a ring of small communications satellites. The electronic revolution is the greatest achievement man has seen after the birth of Christ. So many people are better off today than of years past. Economies are booming, manual labor has decreased, poverty is diminishing slowly, the world is a better place. Thank God for technology!


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