Management

Information technology

Information technology (IT) is the use of computers and telecommunications equipment to store, retrieve, transmit and manipulate data. The term is commonly used as a synonym for computers and computer networks, but it also encompasses other information distribution technologies such as television and telephones. Several industries are associated with information technology, such as computer hardware, software, electronics, semiconductors, internet, telecom equipment and computer services. Humans have been storing, retrieving, manipulating and communicating information since the Sumerians in Mesopotamia developed writing in about 3000 BC, but the term "Information Technology" in its modern sense first appeared in a 1958 article published in the Harvard Business Review; authors Leavitt and Whisler commented that "the new technology does not yet have a single established name. We shall call it information technology (IT)." Based on the storage and processing technology employed, it is possible to distinguish four distinct phases of IT development: pre-mechanical (3000 BC Ц 1450 AD), mechanical (1450Ц1840), electromechanical (1840Ц1940) and electronic. This article focuses on the latter of those periods, which began in about 1940. In a business context, the Information Technology Association of America has defined information technology (IT) as "the study, design, development, application, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems". In an academic context, the Association for Computing Machinery defines it as "undergraduate degree programs that prepare students to meet the computer technology needs of business, government, healthcare, schools, and other kinds of organizations .... IT specialists assume responsibility for selecting hardware and software products appropriate for an organization, integrating those produ ts with organizational needs and infrastructure, and installing, customizing, and maintaining those applications for the organizationТs computer users. Examples of these responsibilities include the installation of networks; network administration and security; the design of web pages; the development of multimedia resources; the installation of communication components; the oversight of email systems; and the planning and management of the technology lifecycle by which an organizationТs technology is maintained, upgraded, and replaced." Devices have been used to aid computation for thousands of years, probably initially in the form of a tally stick. The Antikythera mechanism, dating from about the beginning of the first century BC, is generally considered to be the earliest known mechanical analog computer; it is also the earliest known geared mechanism. Comparable geared devices did not emerge in Europe until the 16th century, and it was not until 1645 that the first mechanical calculator capable of performing the four basic arithmetical operations was developed. Electronic computers, using either relays or valves, began to appear in the early 1940s. The electromechanical Zuse Z3, completed in 1941, was the world's first programmable computer, and by modern standards one of the first machines that could be considered a complete computing machine. Colossus, developed during the Second World War to decrypt German messages was the first electronic digital computer, but although programmable it was not general-purpose, being designed for a single task. Neither did it store its programs in memory; programming was carried out using plugs and switches to alter the internal wiring. The first recognisably modern electronic digital stored-program computer was the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM), which ran its first program on 21 June 1948.