In the early 1980’s when I had just started my career in IT, most of the organizations ran their applications on a 16 bit system that used assembly language. It was used for applications like Payroll, Financial accounting, Inventory management, and other such applications on a batch processing mode. Working in the IT department, then called EDP (Electronic Data Processing) was considered a privilege and the department was out of bounds for many others in the organization.
Later when PC’s, and along with it Windows, came one really wondered why that was needed and what would one do with that. IT and communication became dependent on each other and it started touching the common man. Today we cannot think of being without Windows. A common man today touches technology either directly or indirectly in one way or the other every day. It is difficult to imagine life without Information Technology today.
Computers have become part of the household today and those who do not own one use it in the neighborhood cyber café. Owning a computer is no more a luxury, it is a necessity. What does the common man use this for? Many of us know the answer but still it is really interesting and fascinating to collate it and see what it is used for!
It is interesting to note that people from different age groups use the computer for email, and school children today have email addresses in their own name and use it to exchange questions and answers on their homework with their friends and classmates. A great increase is seen in the use of online banking, or what is normally called net banking. One has the comfort of using the computer in the safety of their house and operate their own bank account and conduct transactions with their bank - including fund transfer, payment of utility bills, opening of fixed deposit, and viewing and checking the statement of account. Railway ticket booking and cancellation, which used to be an ordeal earlier where people had to stand for hours in long queues, can now be done from the computer in your house. You can check the availability of seats in any train, plan your trip, and buy the tickets. So is the case with airlines ticketing – be it domestic or international. All this can be done online from the computer in your house.
Usage of computers at home has been on the rise. Tuitions for school students are conducted online and can be opted for at convenient times. The number of retail investors on the stock exchange has increased due to the availability of online data, real time. People use online trading accounts to buy and sell stocks at current trading price. Technology allows them to set alerts and have them messaged by SMS on their mobile phones.
People having multiple bank accounts, loan accounts, credit cards, and various kinds of investments use technology at home to manage consolidated personal finances. Even the era of capturing photograph using film rolls is slowly fading away. People have switched to digital cameras and store pictures in computerized albums. The utilities of the computer and information technology in the households go on increasing.
Information Technology has also bridged the distance between families. Elderly parents having children in the U.S. now communicate with them using voice chat. Many elderly people who never used or even saw a computer in their early life have become computer savvy today.
The pace at which technology is going forward it would not be surprising if our mobile phone itself becomes our home PC in the near future. Also, social networking through the use of information technology will increase, and maybe this will help in reducing the traffic on the roads especially on the weekends and on holidays. Possibly something to ponder in the wake of the soaring oil prices!