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Computers, Do They Really Make Our Lives Easier?

Updated on September 19, 2015
Robots will Dress You, Feed You, and Comb Your Hair
Robots will Dress You, Feed You, and Comb Your Hair | Source

When I was just a young lad in the 1960s, there was always talk that one day computers would make life easier for all of us. Popular Mechanics and Popular Science magazines had articles with pictures showing how computers would be our slaves and perform mundane tasks for us. And that we would live a life of leisure as they toiled away at tasks that we didn't want to perform. In fact, there was concern that we would become too lazy as a society because computers and robots would be doing most of our tasks and work for us. The graphic to the right is from the cover of a Mechanix Illustrated magazine of 1965. The caption reads: " The robots are coming. When they do, you'll command a host of pushbutton servants."

Today, we have two types of computers: General Purpose and Special Purpose. This article describes the difference between them and the implications on our lives of each type.

A general purpose computer operates using a host of different software programs and applications to perform various tasks that are used as tools by the user. This includes desktops, laptops, notebooks, and IPads.

A special purpose computer is usually embedded in a device or system. It operates with specific software to control and monitor specific processes and tasks that it was designed for.

The General Purpose Computer

The general purpose computer has caused us to take on tasks that used to be handled by many other disciplines. There used to be "bean counters" accountants that would track department budgets by making manual entries into spread sheets. The responsibility has been shifted to users of Excel or other spreadsheet programs.

Powerful word processing and desktop publishing systems now make the writer responsible for all the tasks that were performed by many departments. Presentation software like PowerPoint now makes us responsible for making our own presentation graphics, a job that used to take an entire graphics department.

Database software now makes us responsible for compiling our own database information. There used to be project management and planning departments that have now been replaced with programs like Project. Now we can produce courses online that can literally reach thousands of students as opposed to a classroom course with an instructor and a handful of students. Entire drafting departments have been replaced with workstations where design engineers do their own drafting.

The Micorsoft Office Suite

All of this technology puts us in control and makes us responsible for many of the tasks that used to be handled by pools of people working in many departments. The division of labor has shifted from many people to we as the users of general purpose computers and software. Just look at the suite of programs that are in Microsoft Office.

  • Word - makes us all writers and replaces typists, illustrators, and editors
  • Publisher - makes us desktop publishers that can produce anything from agendas to invitations
  • PowerPoint - We now can produce our own presentations and slide shows that look very professional and replaces entire graphics arts departments
  • Excel - makes us very sophisticated spreadsheet specialists and accountants, we can now perform very sophisticated formula calculations - replaces accountants
  • Access - Makes us all database compilers - replaces data entry departments.

General Purpose Computers, Are we their Slaves?

General purpose computers have made us the jack of all trades but the master of none. So have computers really given us the leisure life that was predicted in the 60's? Yes we have all of this very sophisticated technology at our fingertips. The general purpose computer has taken the power of the main frame systems of the past and put it into the hands of the everyday person. And it has made us much more responsible for the tasks that used to be performed by many other highly skilled workers. Also the programs and applications that we use require a learning curve. For most user's, they learn what they need for the tasks they are performing, but it takes time and effort.

Special Purpose Computers are they our Slaves?

Special purpose computers generally are embedded in some device or system they are controlling and operate using very specific software. But unlike general purpose computers, they do make life easier for us. Here are a few examples of special purpose computers.

  • Computers embedded in cars that control the efficiency of fuel burn and smog control
  • GPS Systems
  • ATM's
  • Telephone switching networks
  • Navigation and guidance systems
  • Embedded processors in many appliances, including microwave ovens, washer machines, televisions and even radios.
  • Nuclear reactor control
  • Medical systems
  • Many military applications

Conclusion

The specialized computers are working silently in the background and making life easier for us while the general purpose computer makes us the jack of all trades but in most cases the master of none. There are also implications with the general purpose computer. From a worker's standpoint, the general purpose computer causes more productivity from less of a work force, thus helping to increase the bottom line, but placing more responsibility on the worker.

Many skilled workers jobs have been displaced by computers causing a shift in the work force.These workers have to retrain into other disciplines or they may find themselves in the ranks of the unemployed.

it's a far cry from the visions of the 60's. But I'm not sure that I would want a robot like RD2D or C3PO from Star Wars to give me a haircut or a shave.

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    • Phelcky profile image

      Lilly 5 years ago from Denmark

      This was a very interesting article! Good work :)

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Thank you, I'm glad you found it interesting.

    • Edgar Arkham profile image

      Edgar Arkham 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Great article!

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Thanks for dropping by Edgar.

    • LadyLyell profile image

      LadyLyell 5 years ago from George, South Africa

      Much to the frustration of my family I am not as computer literate as they'd like but I battle along.

      So, I found this article interesting,

      Thanks!

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Thanks for the comments and good for you for battling along.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Interesting article. We have definitely become slaves to computers, rather than the masters. It seems that although life has more options with computers, it is far far busier and with more pressures than the past.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • biancaalice profile image

      biancaalice 5 years ago from Southern California

      Yes very dependant of computers and technology now. Good article.

      Voted up & intereesting.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Brett: Always greast to hear from you. I really appreciate how you help the hub page community with your ideas. Thanks for dropping by.

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Thank you bianca. I appreciate your comments and thanks for dropping by.

    • Lot Rillera profile image

      Lot Rillera 5 years ago from Philippines

      Hi, this hub is very useful and interesting , and me myself too so much thankful with this technolgy because I found my old friends here thru net. nice hub and voted up!

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Lot Rillera: Thank you for your comments. I'm happy you were able to find your old friends through my hub.

    • snowdrops profile image

      snowdrops 5 years ago from The Second Star to the Right

      Great hub! This has a lot of info to offer the reader. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      Thanks snowdrops. Good luck to you as a new hubber.

    • Sonny Ellar profile image

      Sonny Ellar 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

      Highly interesting article! nowadays, we can't imagine life without these machines!

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 5 years ago

      Interesting topic indeed! Computers do make our lives easier, (lol!) but it kinda takes longer to make our lives easier! It's highly addictive too.

      Know what I mean!?

      Cheers! :)

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 5 years ago from Placentia California

      quicksand: Absolutely I know what you mean. I'm addicted to hub pages and I wish I wasn't. Thanks for dropping by.

    • philabustah profile image

      Philip 3 years ago from Boston, MA.

      You are the man peoplepower. There is a lot of negative things that came down the pike with computers as well. Most are things that 1965 magazines never predicted, or stated that they wouldn't happen because we humans are so much smarter than that. In fact, I went to school in the 80s, where all these things we were told computers could do still aren't done because our marketers dictate what our technology WILL do, not what it can. But you know this!

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 3 years ago from Placentia California

      philabustah: I believe you are absolutely right about our markets dictating what we want. It's called find a need and fill it, or create a need and fill it.

    • profile image

      Sethaleap 21 months ago

      Can u give a main point about do computer make our life easier

    • peoplepower73 profile image
      Author

      Mike Russo 21 months ago from Placentia California

      Sethaleap:

      The specialized computers are working silently in the background and making life easier for us while the general purpose computer makes us the jack of all trades but in most cases the master of none. There are also implications with the general purpose computer. From a worker's standpoint, the general purpose computer causes more productivity from less of a work force, thus helping to increase the bottom line, but placing more responsibility on the worker.

      Many skilled workers jobs have been displaced by computers causing a shift in the work force.These workers have to retrain into other disciplines or they may find themselves in the ranks of the unemployed.

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