The Future of Mankind Since its invention in 1948, electronic computers have changed the way world works. It is undoubtedly one of the top ten greatest inventions of mankind. Today, we cannot even think to live without computers. Originally designed for defence purposes during World War II, the machine called computer has become an indispensable part of our daily lives, and its uses are almost beyond comprehension itself. Present day computers are used to work, to play, to have fun, to shop, to study, to talk, to date and to generally do anything one can think about.
Since its inception, the computer technology has improved manifolds. We no longer talk about simple computers that are able to perform a few tasks at a given time, but we have developed Supercomputers- computers so fast that they can carry out millions of calculations in a matter of seconds. A supercomputer is defined as a mainframe computer that is one of the fastest and most powerful computer. Supercomputers have grown and changed throughout their history. Their speed is unparalleled, their future is exciting, and their uses are nearly limitless.
In 1943, the first supercomputer named Colossus was made in England. It was only able to handle five thousand characters per second. Also in England in 1950, the Manchester Mark I was produced and was able to handle 500 instructions per second. In 1975, the “father of supercomputing,” Seymour Cray earned his nickname for creating the first completely transistorized supercomputer.
Cray founded Cray Inc. when he began designing and creating supercomputers. He named his first supercomputer Cray-I. It was a single electronic computer. Cray-I was sold in 1976 to Los Alamos National Laboratory for $8.8 million. The Cray-1 recorded a speed of 160 million floating-point operations per second (160 megaflops) and contained an 8 megabyte main memory. That means it could hold one million words.
Even though the world got introduced to the computer technology in late forties, India bought its first computer in 1956 for a princely sum of ` 10 lakh. It was called HEC-2M and was installed at Calcutta’s Indian Statistical Institute. It was nothing more than a number crunching machine and was huge in size. The dimensions of this monster were 10 ft in length, 7 ft in breadth and 6 ft in height. It played a critical role in formulating annual and five-year plans by the planning commission, and in top-secret projects of India’s nuclear programme.
Moreover, it went on to turn out India’s first generation of computer professionals. It was at least ten thousand times slower in solving even simple problems than today’s machines. But it set the stage for the development of computers in India. India’s supercomputer era began when our former Prime Minister, Shri VP Singh, dedicated to the nation, country’s first super computer, ` 15 crores US made, CRAY-X-MP 14 on 25th March, 1989. The main application of this super computer is in medium range weather forecasting to agro-meteorology programmes to agricultural operations to water resource management. It is established at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), a constituent unit of the DST (Department of Science and Technology), New Delhi. India’s first home-developed supercomputer was PARAM 8000. PARAM stood for Parallel Machine. This computer was developed by the government run Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in 1991. Today, India is certainly giving the western countries a run for their money where supercomputing is concerned. India has been ranked number four in the world, in a global list of countries with the most powerful supercomputers. Only the US, China and Germany are ahead of India in the first, second and third slots.
The benefits and uses of supercomputers are used in many different fields. For example, supercomputers can predict weather. Every time you check the weather, you are actually seeing the output of a supercomputer. You can also use supercomputers for mathematical calculations, seismic activity (earthquakes), nuclear energy research, fluid dynamic calculations, submarine tracking, pattern matching, graph analysis, cryptology (the study of codes in which the key is unknown), data collection, and researching anything on the internet.
All data goes through supercomputers and that’s why you can find 62,600,000 results of the word ‘dog’ in .04 seconds. Scientists are already figuring out what the future for supercomputers is going to be like. They are going to be using them more and more for creating stimulus, building airplanes, creating chemical substances, making new materials, and doing crash tests on cars without actually having to crash the car. One may easily foresee that supercomputers are the need of tomorrow. They have been making our lives easier and will continue to do so. Our future depends on how we use their capabilities for the greater good.