Explain how the computer revolution contributed to economic growth and advances in science, medicine, and communication.

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Topics on this page

I. Background

II. Economic Growth

III. Communication

IV. Medicine

Focus Question: How did the computer revolution contribute to economic growth and advances in science, medicine and communication?

rotating gif.gifFor more, see USII.30.

MAP.jpgSee also, World History Advanced Placement Key Concept 6.1.


Where Does the Word Computer Come From? from Cengage.

History of Word Processors

Early Apple Computer, first introduced in 1977
Early Apple Computer, first introduced in 1977

A History of the Computer, from Triumph of the Nerds website from PBS.

The History of Computing Project, from the History of Computing Foundation, The Netherlands.
primary_sources.PNGSelling the Computer Revolution: Marketing Brochures, 1948-1988, from the Computer History Museum.

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngHistory of Computers timeline

Timeline of Computer History, 1939-1994 from the Computer History Museum.

Female_Rose.pngPast Notable Women of Computing, from the Department of Computer Science, Yale University.

Economic Growth

  1. Computers allow for trade to be done over the internet. Ebay, for example, is one way that people can buy and sell items online. Stores are also able to sell things online. Retailers such as Target or Apple have websites where customers can purchase items online instead of having to actually go to the store. Well established retailers are not the only users of the online system of selling. Computers have allowed for e-commerce. Essentially, anyone can develop a business over the internet. This allows the business creator to directly target and find consumers of their products.
  2. Advertising is also popular on the internet.
  3. Job hunting and home hunting can both be done on the internet. Resumes can be posted online, for example, at Hot Jobs or Yahoo!. Job hunters can put their resume on any of these sites and companies can look to see if any of the applicants are suitable for a job opening. Houses, condos, and apartments are also advertised online. A person looking to find a new place to live can look on any number of sites. For example, http://www.apartments.com/ .


  1. Email: allows for sending of messages from one machine to another over the Internet. The first email message was sent by Ray Tomlinson in 1971.
  2. Instant Messaging: makes it easier to keep in touch. Messages can be sent from one person to another over the Internet. If two want to send continuous messages to each other, Instant Messaging as less steps than continuously sending emails.
  3. Skype: allows the user to talk over the internet to anyone in the world. If both members have Skype, then the calls are free.
  4. E-learning: people are able to learn at home on their computers. There are 4 types of e-learning: knowledge databases, online support, asynchronous training, and synchronous training (which takes place with an instructor in real time). E-learning can be internet, intranet, network, or CD ROM based.
  5. Voice over Internet Protocol: can make phone calls on the Internet. Several different options including ATA, IP phones, and Computer-to-Compu

Importance of Computers in Medicine

  1. Computers are the excellent means for storage of patient related data. Big hospitals employ computer systems to maintain patient records. It is often necessary to maintain detailed records of the medical history of patients. Doctors often require the information about a patient’s family history, physical ailments, already diagnosed diseases and prescribed medicines. This information can be effectively stored in a computer database.
  2. Computers can keep track of prescriptions and billing information. They can be used to store the information about the medicines prescribed to a patient as well as those, which cannot be prescribed to him/her. Computers enable an efficient storage of huge amounts of medical data.
  3. Medicine comprises vast base of knowledge. Computer storage can serve as the best means of housing this information. Medical journals, research and diagnosis papers, important medical documents and reference books can best be stored in an electronic format.
  4. Many of the modern-day medical equipment have small, programmed computers. Many of the medical appliances of today work on pre-programmed instructions. The circuitry and logic in most of the medical equipment is basically a computer. The functioning of hospital-bed beeping systems, emergency alarm systems, X-ray machines and several such medical appliances is based on computer logic.
  5. Computer software is used for diagnosis of diseases. It can be used for the examination of internal organs of the body. Advanced computer-based systems are used to examine delicate organs of the body. Some of the complex surgeries can be performed with the aid of computers. The different types of monitoring equipment in hospitals are often based on computer programming.
  6. Medical imaging is a vast field that deals with the techniques to create images of the human body for medical purposes. Many of the modern methods of scanning and imaging are largely based on the computer technology. We have been able to implement many of the advanced medical imaging techniques, thanks to the developments in computer science. Magnetic resonance imaging employs computer software. Computed tomography makes use of digital geometry processing techniques to obtain 3-D images. Sophisticated computers and infrared cameras are used for obtaining high-resolution images. Computers are widely used for the generation of 3-D images in medicine, and these images have becoming critically important, not only in the discovery of existing conditions within a patient, but also in the modeling and study of internal organs and systems or molecules and viruses.

    Computer networking enables quicker communication. Computers and Internet have proved to be a boon in all the spheres of life. In the field of medicine, computers allow for faster communication between a patient and a doctor. Doctors can collaborate better over the Internet. Today, it is possible to obtain experts’ opinions within seconds by means of the Internet. Medical professionals sitting on opposite sides of the globe can communicate within minutes by means of the Internet. It is due to computer networking technology that network communication has become easy. Medical practitioners can discuss medical issues in medical forums. They can exchange images and messages in seconds and derive conclusions speedily. They can seek advice and share knowledge in a convenient manner over the Internet.
    A bacteriophage modeled three dimensionally.
    A bacteriophage modeled three dimensionally.

    The importance of computers cannot be stressed enough as computer technology has revolutionized the field of medicine.

Multimedia.pngComputers in Medicine, YouTube Video clip Computers in Medicine.

New Uses for Computers in Medical Education, Clinical Practice, and Patient Safety in the U.S. and Japan.

Multimedia.png3D Medical Animation - What is Cancer?

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See Alan Turing Page for more information and resources

The Turing Archive for the History of Computing presents historical information and documents about the life of Alan Turing, a computer pioneer and World War II codebreaker who committed suicide in the face of pressures about his homosexuality.
Multimedia.pngClick here for a video on Alan Turing's life from Vimeo.

See also the video, Codebreaker: Alan Turing Life and Legacy from YouTube.


1. http://www.managementhelp.org/infomgnt/e_cmmrce/e_cmmrce.htm#anchor1167431
2. http://about.skype.com/product.html
3. http://communication.howstuffworks.com/email.htm
4. http://communication.howstuffworks.com/elearning.htm
5. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/importance-of-computers-in-medicine.html