Most of us would probably agree that computers have changed the way th
"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Most of us would probably agree that computers have changed the way that the business world
works. They act as an effective method of keeping track of inventory, sales records, and customer
information. They are ideal for company presentations, and thanks to the fairly recent popularity growth of
the Internet, you can now use your computer to advertise for your company with a web page.
Computers have also invaded thousands of homes across the planet. They are being used for
everything from simple word processing to a personal home arcade.
These sophisticated machines have become popular for one simple reason. Computers are the
only machines on Earth that are not restricted to one set of tasks. Coffee makers can only make coffee,
refrigerators can only keep food cool, garage door openers can only open the garage, but computers do
what the user wants them to do. The only problem is that most people don't have the slightest clue how to
make a computer do what they want it to do. This is where computer programmers come in.
Since thousands of consumers everywhere have rushed out and bought these complex machines,
and have no idea what to do with them, companies have sprung up everywhere to write computer programs
for the average user. Before these companies were around a new computer owner would have to read
around 4 large manuals just to figure out how to get their computer to do any simple function. A man
named Bill Gates saw the consumer and small business potential of computers early during their
Gates started a small business named Microsoft. Microsoft stayed small for it's first couple years,
until they wrote a program named DOS, Disk Operating System. This was the first serious attempt at a
consumer based computer program. DOS basically simplified the use of many of the functions that a
consumer would want to have their consumer do. DOS was primarily based off of two other programs that
have been in the computer industry years before Microsoft was ever formed, CP/M and Unix. Both of
these programs were comparable to the interface of DOS, but CP/M and Unix were aimed more toward
businesses, while DOS was advertised as a consumer oriented program. Soon, large companies such as
IBM and Compaq started selling DOS with every personal computer, and all other computer programmers
began writing software that would run only on top of the DOS interface. Microsoft had now became the
largest name in computer software. Once CP/M had gone out of business, and Microsoft !
was working on it's third billion dollars of profit, Bill Gates admitted that DOS was completely based on
CP/M and Unix, and that it actually included a lot of the same code, or computer instructions.
DOS was just the beginning for Microsoft. They soon joined up with IBM (the largest personal
computer company in the world at that time) to write a program called OS/2. OS/2 was actually supposed
to kill off DOS and Microsoft's Monopoly on the consumer software industry. IBM allowed Microsoft to
help write OS/2, because if it wasn't for DOS, IBM's personal computers would never had sold as well as
they did. OS/2 had just released it's 2nd version when a company named Apple Computers released the
world's first official Graphical User Interface (GUI) computer. This new type of software used pictures to
represent each computer function. Now instead of a new computer user seeing a simple black screen when
they turned on their computer, they saw a much more friendly white screen with lot's of little pictures with
labels under them telling their exact function. Soon after the release of this new software, Microsoft left
IBM and OS/2 to write a clone of the Apple GUI. 2 year!
s later, Microsoft released Windows 1.0. Again, Microsoft had copied another companies' ideal, and sold it
under the Microsoft name. Windows soon defeated the struggling Apple GUI as the world's largest GUI.
As with DOS, companies began writing software for the popular Windows interface.
Apple was fortunate to have it's GUI out 2 years before Microsoft. They had already built up a
decent amount of customers. This gave Apple time to begin writing new versions of their GUI, and to try
to compete with Microsoft. This competition is still
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