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No modern industry better illustrates the fast pace of change today than the computer industry. And no industry has had such far-reaching effects. These days, almost everything we do involves computer technology.

Before the creation of modern electronic computers came the invention of punched cards. These stiff paper cards had holes punched in different places. The holes were somewhat like computer code. When put into a machine, the machine could translate the holes into data or information. The earliest punched card system was able to speed up some tasks. However, the machines were so huge that they took up space in several large rooms.

In 1946, Americans John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert developed the first modern computer. It was called the Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator, or ENIAC. It took a year to design the machine and about a year and a half to build it. It cost about $50,000 (about $650,000 today).

ENIAC was 8 feet tall and 80 feet long, and it weighed 30 tons. To operate, it used more than 17,000 heat-generating vacuum tubes. Vacuum tubes were a common part of most electronics in the twentieth century, including radios, televisions, and telephone networks. But several of ENIAC's tubes burned out almost every day, which affected its reliability. Critics wrote the machine off. They said it was a waste of money and time.

However, the ENIAC was faster than any machine that came before it. In one second, it could complete 5,000 addition problems. The US military put it to use for calculations, weather prediction, wind-tunnel design, and even the development of hydrogen bombs.

The next evolution in computers was the transistor computer. These second-generation computers were built in the 1950s and 1960s. Engineers replaced vacuum tubes with newer technology called transistors. The transistor computers were much more powerful and reliable than vacuum tube computers. They were also much smaller in size. Transistor computers paved the way for personal computers.
Another advancement of the twentieth century was computer networking. A computer network connects two or more computers in the same location or in different locations. One early system of networking was called the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). By 1983, ARPANET was being used by the US military for several research and development projects and other operational activities. Another advancement, called Network Control Protocol (NCP), allowed computers in the network to exchange information. These innovations soon gave rise to the modern Internet and the development of electronic mail, or email.

By 1985, the Internet was an established technology. It supported a broad community of university researchers and developers. Other communities were also beginning to use it for daily computer communications. In addition, they were making greater use of email. However, different communities often used different computer and networking systems, which made it difficult to share information from one community to the next.

The growing use of the Internet and email showed the need for a single system that could connect many more people. The solution to this problem was the World Wide Web. The year 1989 is generally considered the year the World Wide Web was created. Tim Berners-Lee has been credited with its invention.

The World Wide Web helped connect the world digitally and helped people access information. Watch the video on the next screen to learn more about the beginnings of the World Wide Web.
The period between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries is known as the age of exploration. During this era, Europeans explored much of the Americas, Africa, and Asia. One of the goals of these explorations was to gather information about places and people beyond Europe. These explorations resulted in a dramatic increase in human knowledge of the world.

For several more centuries, there continued to be unexplored territories that lay beyond human settlements. These territories were called the frontier. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, most of the land on the planet had been explored. Without an unexplored frontier on Earth, people started thinking of outer space as "the last frontier." Space exploration is an example of a rapidly changing field of science. The lessons learned from outer space have also changed the way we live on Earth.

To explore the last frontier of space, scientists started experimenting with rocket technology. During the early twentieth century, three scientists began to work separately on rocket engines for the purpose of space exploration. These scientists were Robert Goddard from the United States, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky from Russia, and Hermann Oberth from Germany. Robert Goddard in particular wanted to use rockets for peaceful purposes. He believed rockets could help send people to the moon. He built the world's first liquid-fueled rocket.

However, during World War II, Nazi Germany realized the potential for using long-distance rockets as weapons systems. German scientist Wernher von Braun developed a weapon called the V-2. This rocket could travel at a speed of 3,500 miles per hour. The Germans used the V-2 to conduct aerial attacks on London, England, in the closing months of the war.
Since World War II, scientists have continued to make great strides in the field of medical technology. One important field of medical technology is biotechnology. Let's take a look at how this new area of medicine fights and prevents diseases.

Biotechnology relies on recent advances in science and technology. It uses living microorganisms, such as cells or bacteria, as tools to produce new medicines and other useful products.

The popularity of biotechnology is growing in our changing world. Biotechnology is used across industries to make products such as vaccinations, medicines, and industrial bacteria. Biotechnology also includes research on how to increase crop yields by manipulating the DNA of food crops. Similarly, biotechnology research has been used to improve the health of livestock.

Biotechnology is also related to genetics and genetic engineering. Genetics is the study of heredity and the different variations in the inherited traits of organisms. Genetic engineering involves the manipulation of an organism's DNA. It makes changes in the organism's genome using the science of biotechnology. Developments in the field of genetics have benefited several industries, including medicine.

An important aspect of genetics is cloning. Clones are organisms that share identical DNA. Thus, they are exact genetic copies of one another. Cloning is helping scientists grow plants that are genetically identical and possess certain desired characteristics such as resistance to diseases and insects.