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1.1 INTRODUCTION

In the beginning of civilisation, people used fingers and pebbles for computing purposes. In fact, the word digitus in Latin actually means finger and calculus means pebble. This gives a clue into the origin of early computing concepts. With the development of civilisation, the computing needs also grew. The need for a mechanism to perform lengthy calculations led to the invention of the first calculator, and then computers.

The term computer is derived from the word compute, which means to calculate. A computer is an electronic machine, devised for performing calculations and controlling operations that can be expressed either in logical or numerical terms. In simple words, a computer is an electronic device that performs diverse operations with the help of instructions to process the data in order to achieve desired results. Although the application domain of a computer depends totally on human creativity and imagination, it covers a huge area of applications including education, industries, government, medicine, scientific research, law, and even music and arts.

Computers are one of the most influential forces available in modern times. Harnessing the power of computers enables relatively limited and fallible human capacities for memory, logical decision-making, reaction, and perfection to be extended to almost infinite levels. Millions of complex calculations can be done in a mere fraction of time; difficult decisions can be made with unerring accuracy for comparatively little cost. Computers are widely seen as instruments for future progress and as tools to achieve sustainability by way of improved access to information with the help of video conferencing and e-mail. Indeed, computers have left such an impression on modern civilisation that we call this era as the “information age”.

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