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III. The Power of ComputersComputers draw their power from three factors that far exceed human capacities: speed, In-Class ActivityPrior to class, ask students to read an article related to the history of computer hardware and software. During class, ask them to write a report based on the article they read.Discussion QuestionDiscuss the evolution of technologies in the first- to fifth-generation computers.
4accuracy, and storage and retrieval capabilities.A. SpeedComputers process data with amazing speed. Today’s high-speed computers make it possible for knowledge workers to perform tasks much faster than with the slower computers of the past. Typically, computer speed is measured as the number of instructions performed during the following fractions of a second:Millisecond: 1/1,000 of a secondMicrosecond: 1/1,000,000 of a secondNanosecond: 1/1,000,000,000 of a secondPicosecond: 1/1,000,000,000,000 of a secondB. AccuracyUnlike humans, computers do not make mistakes. To understand computer accuracy more clearly, take a look at these two numbers:4.00000000000000000000000014.0000000000000000000000002To humans, these two numbers are so close that they are usually considered equal. To a computer, however, these two numbers are completely different. This degree of accuracy is critical in many computer applications. On a space mission, for example, computers are essential for calculating reentry times and locations for space shuttles. A small degree of inaccuracy could lead the space shuttle to land in Canada instead of the United States.C. Storage and RetrievalStorage means saving data in computer memory, and retrieval means accessing data from memory. Computers can store vast quantities of data and locate a specific item quickly, which makes knowledge workers more efficient in performing their jobs. In computers, data is stored in bits. A bit is a single value of 0 or 1, and 8 bits equal 1 byte. A byte is the size of a character. Every character, number, or symbol on the keyboard is represented as a binary number in computer memory. A binary system consists of 0s and 1s, with a 1 representing “on” and a 0 representing “off.”