Outlines Of Essay Information Technology

Information Technology is a diverse, rapidly changing, and multidisciplinary field of study which encompasses all aspects to do with computing. Computing is extremely important in today’s society because it is increasingly integral to nearly every level of daily life. At its core, computing technology relates to the creation, maintenance, and exchange of data. When addressing Information Technology, then, we are concerned with the processing of information, in its various dimensions. Accordingly, we would want to consider the relationship between information processes and the various technologies which enable such processes. Hence we would look, for example, at factors such as hardware, software, networking, and the internet: examining the design, construction, development, management, and progression of said technologies and their relevant applications. A successful Information Technology essay will consequently cover the interrelation between the technical, theoretical, and logistical creation and exchange of information.

Planning Your Essay: The Importance of Structure

A good Information Technology essay is invariably the result of thorough planning. The more research and preparation you do, the more likely you are to write a first rate piece of work. Outlining an essay plan can be a great way to ensure that your writing has a coherent structure. This will help you to construct a logical and convincing argument. Generally, an essay plan will identify key terms and points of argument then arrange them in a rough order of chronology. This will give you a kind of essay roadmap to follow. This can begin very simply, dividing your essay into “Introduction”, “Argument Body”, then “Conclusion”. Use the Introduction to identify the case your essay intends to argue. For example, your essay might open: “This essay will examine the benefits of turnkey systems in commercial computing”. Next, explain how you will tackle said argument: “by outlining the merits and demerits of turnkey systems versus built-to-order alternatives, this essay will prove that [. . .]”. In the Argument Body you will expand upon your central propositions, seeking to convince the readership of your point of view. This might involve a defensive strategy, where you emphasise the strengths of your perspective; or it might take an offensive approach, where you identify the weaknesses of the opposite position. Finally, the conclusion will pull all the strands of argument together into one cogent reiteration of the opening proposition.

Supporting Your Argument: Critical Sources

Research is a vital stage in the essay-writing process. The more information you have at your disposal, the more tools you have with which to construct your argument. For this reason, you should try to read widely on your topic. This will also help you to identify critical sources that are appropriate for citation. This is one of the best ways of strengthening your case. By citing experts who are considered authorities on the subject, you lend weight to your essay by virtue of their authority. Importantly, you must ensure that your sources originate in reputable academic texts. There are numerous scholarly books, journals, and online resources available to the Information Technology student, including Journal of Information Technology, Journal of Systems and Information Technology, and International Journal of Information Technology and Management. Academic journals offer a particularly useful source of information because they usually contain the most recent published research. Seeing as Information Technology is a rapidly developing field, it is advantageous to stay up-to-date. An essay that makes use of the latest scholarly advances is more likely to offer an insightful and original viewpoint. This can help greatly in achieving high grades. During the research stage, be mindful of perspectives opposing your own; it will only bolster your case if you can demonstrate awareness of, and thus be able to destruct, contrary positions.  

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A History of Information Technology and Systems

  • Four basic periods
    Characterized by a principal technology used to solve the input, processing, output and communication problems of the time:

    1. Premechanical,
    2. Mechanical,
    3. Electromechanical, and
    4. Electronic

A. The Premechanical Age: 3000 B.C. - 1450 A.D.

  1. Writing and Alphabets--communication.
    1. First humans communicated only through speaking and picture drawings.
    2. 3000 B.C., the Sumerians in Mesopotamia (what is today southern Iraq) devised cuniform
    3. Around 2000 B.C., Phoenicians created symbols
    4. The Greeks later adopted the Phoenician alphabet and added vowels; the Romans gave the letters Latin names to create the alphabet we use today.
  2. Paper and Pens--input technologies.
    1. Sumerians' input technology was a stylus that could scratch marks in wet clay.
    2. About 2600 B.C., the Egyptians write on the papyrus plant
    3. around 100 A.D., the Chinese made paper from rags, on which modern-day papermaking is based.
  3. Books and Libraries: Permanent Storage Devices.
    1. Religious leaders in Mesopotamia kept the earliest "books"
    2. The Egyptians kept scrolls
    3. Around 600 B.C., the Greeks began to fold sheets of papyrus vertically into leaves and bind them together.
  4. The First Numbering Systems.
    1. Egyptian system:
      • The numbers 1-9 as vertical lines, the number 10 as a U or circle, the number 100 as a coiled rope, and the number 1,000 as a lotus blossom.
    2. The first numbering systems similar to those in use today were invented between 100 and 200 A.D. by Hindus in India who created a nine-digit numbering system.
    3. Around 875 A.D., the concept of zero was developed.
  5. The First Calculators: The Abacus.

    One of the very first information processors.

B. The Mechanical Age: 1450 - 1840

  1. The First Information Explosion.
    1. Johann Gutenberg (Mainz, Germany)
      • Invented the movable metal-type printing process in 1450.
    2. The development of book indexes and the widespread use of page numbers.
  2. The first general purpose "computers"
    • Actually people who held the job title "computer: one who works with numbers."
  3. Slide Rules, the Pascaline and Leibniz's Machine.
  4. Babbage's Engines
    Charles Babbage (1792-1871), eccentric English mathematician

C. The Electromechanical Age: 1840 - 1940.

The discovery of ways to harness electricity was the key advance made during this period. Knowledge and information could now be converted into electrical impulses.

  1. The Beginnings of Telecommunication.
    1. Voltaic Battery.
    2. Telegraph.
    3. Morse Code.
      • Developed in1835 by Samuel Morse
      • Dots and dashes.
    4. Telephone and Radio.

      • Alexander Graham Bell.
      • 1876
    5. Followed by the discovery that electrical waves travel through space and can produce an effect far from the point at which they originated.
    6. These two events led to the invention of the radio
  2. Electromechanical Computing
    1. Herman Hollerith and IBM.
      Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) in 1880.

      Census Machine.

      Early punch cards.

      Punch card workers.
      • By 1890
      • The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
        • Its first logo
    2. Mark 1.

      Paper tape stored data and program instructions.
      • Howard Aiken, a Ph.D. student at Harvard University
      • Built the Mark I
        • Completed January 1942
        • 8 feet tall, 51 feet long, 2 feet thick, weighed 5 tons, used about 750,000 parts

D. The Electronic Age: 1940 - Present.

  1. First Tries.
    • Early 1940s
    • Electronic vacuum tubes.
  2. Eckert and Mauchly.
    1. The First High-Speed, General-Purpose Computer Using Vacuum Tubes:
      Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)

      The ENIAC team (Feb 14, 1946). Left to right: J. Presper Eckert, Jr.; John Grist Brainerd; Sam Feltman; Herman H. Goldstine; John W. Mauchly; Harold Pender; Major General G. L. Barnes; Colonel Paul N. Gillon.

      Rear view (note vacuum tubes).
      • Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC)
        • 1946.
        • Used vacuum tubes (not mechanical devices) to do its calculations.
          • Hence, first electronic computer.
        • Developers John Mauchly, a physicist, and J. Prosper Eckert, an electrical engineer
          • The Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania
        • Funded by the U.S. Army.
        • But it could not store its programs (its set of instructions)
    2. The First Stored-Program Computer(s)

      The Manchester University Mark I (prototype).
      • Early 1940s, Mauchly and Eckert began to design the EDVAC - the Electronic Discreet Variable Computer.
      • John von Neumann's influential report in June 1945:
        • "The Report on the EDVAC"
      • British scientists used this report and outpaced the Americans.
        • Max Newman headed up the effort at Manchester University
          • Where the Manchester Mark I went into operation in June 1948--becoming the first stored-program computer.
        • Maurice Wilkes, a British scientist at Cambridge University, completed the EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) in 1949--two years before EDVAC was finished.
          • Thus, EDSAC became the first stored-program computer in general use (i.e., not a prototype).
    3. The First General-Purpose Computer for Commercial Use: Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC).

      UNIVAC publicity photo.
      • Late 1940s, Eckert and Mauchly began the development of a computer called UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer)
        • Remington Rand.
        • First UNIVAC delivered to Census Bureau in 1951.
      • But, a machine called LEO (Lyons Electronic Office) went into action a few months before UNIVAC and became the world's first commercial computer.
  3. The Four Generations of Digital Computing.
    1. The First Generation (1951-1958).
      1. Vacuum tubes as their main logic elements.
      2. Punch cards to input and externally store data.
      3. Rotating magnetic drums for internal storage of data and programs
        • Programs written in
          • Machine language
          • Assembly language
    2. The Second Generation (1959-1963).
      1. Vacuum tubes replaced by transistors as main logic element.
        • AT&T's Bell Laboratories, in the 1940s
        • Crystalline mineral materials called semiconductors could be used in the design of a device called a transistor
      2. Magnetic tape and disks began to replace punched cards as external storage devices.
      3. Magnetic cores (very small donut-shaped magnets that could be polarized in one of two directions to represent data) strung on wire within the computer became the primary internal storage technology.
        • High-level programming languages
    3. The Third Generation (1964-1979).

      1. Individual transistors were replaced by integrated circuits.
      2. Magnetic tape and disks completely replace punch cards as external storage devices.
      3. Magnetic core internal memories began to give way to a new form, metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) memory, which, like integrated circuits, used silicon-backed chips.
        • Operating systems
        • Advanced programming languages like BASIC developed.
          • Which is where Bill Gates and Microsoft got their start in 1975.
    4. The Fourth Generation (1979- Present).
      1. Large-scale and very large-scale integrated circuits (LSIs and VLSICs)
      2. Microprocessors that contained memory, logic, and control circuits (an entire CPU = Central Processing Unit) on a single chip.
        • Which allowed for home-use personal computers or PCs, like the Apple (II and Mac) and IBM PC.
          • Apple II released to public in 1977, by Stephen Wozniak and Steven Jobs.
            • Initially sold for $1,195 (without a monitor); had 16k RAM.
          • First Apple Mac released in 1984.
          • IBM PC introduced in 1981.
            • Debuts with MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System)
        • Fourth generation language software products
          • E.g., Visicalc, Lotus 1-2-3, dBase, Microsoft Word, and many others.
          • Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) for PCs arrive in early 1980s

            • MS Windows debuts in 1983, but is quite a clunker.
              • Windows wouldn't take off until version 3 was released in 1990

            • Apple's GUI (on the first Mac) debuts in 1984.


  1. Kenneth C. Laudon, Carol Guercio Traver, Jane P. Laudon, Information Technology and Systems, Cambridge, MA: Course Technology, 1996.
  2. Stan Augarten, BIT By BIT: An Illustrated History of Computers (New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1984).
  3. R. Moreau, The Computer Comes of Age: The People, the Hardware, and the Software, translated by J. Howlett (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1984).
  4. Telephone History Web Site. http://www.cybercomm.net/~chuck/phones.html, accessed 1998.
  5. Microsoft Museum. http://www.microsoft.com/mscorp/museum/home.asp, accessed 1998.

Originally developed as a lecture for MAR 203 Concepts in New Media, a course at the University of Arizona, summer 1997, by Jeremy G. Butler. Copyrights of these images are held by their original creators.

Original material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike2.5 License.

Last revised: July 13, 1998

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