Wikipedia's definition of a computer is "a programmable machine that receives input, stores and manipulates data, and provides output in a useful format." Therefore, there are many things a computer can be, and many things a computer can do. Currently, these machines have becomes so useful because they provide word processing, the internet, and digital video and audio capabilities. Consequently, computers have become part of daily life and are nearly a necessity.
Composition. Although typewriters are capable of composition, computers have simplified the process. Just like a typewriter, computers have a "QWERTY" keyboard equipped with numbers, periods, and question marks. However, the backspace and mouse are where the typewriter and computer have parted ways. Although typewriters have correct ribbon for correcting letters, it looks rather sloppy and the typist would often have to worry about messing up. The digital screen and mouse allow the writer to delete, insert, and rearrange words, making composition a much simpler task and a computer much more useful.
Editing and Formatting. If you were to ask the owner of a typewriter about editing and formatting, he or she would probably look at you with a confused face. This is because these two modern tools have made computers more useful and proper. Nowadays, word processors, such as Microsoft Word 2007, have pages and pages of detailed toolbars. Computer typists now have the ability to do any of the following:
Sending. Most of the time a writer uses a word processor because he or she needs to somehow deliver a paper, diagram, graph, etc. As a student, one would need to turn in a hard copy paper to his or her teacher. As an employee, one might need to send a document to his or her boss or co-worker. But how might someone go about doing this? The combination of a word processor, a computer, and one other tool can provide the raw materials for almost any type of sending. With a printer, one could create a hard copy of the document. With the internet, one could send it via e-mail. If someone has a portable storage device, such as a flash drive or floppy disk, he or she could carry the paper around in a pocket or backpack. New technology has given us many options for sending any type of document. Overall, word processing has made the computer an even more useful machine.
The most common use of a computer is a vast system of interconnected networks known as the internet. The World Wide Web allows users to do practically anything on their computer. However, most people use the internet for three reasons:
Information. Have you ever heard the phrase "Google it"? Your answer is probably yes. The reason for this is because one could find almost any fact on the internet. May it be about the 43rd president or the origins of Romeo and Juliet, a person could most likely find the information on the World Wide Web. Overall, 21st century computers have revolutionized research. Instead of going to the library, people can simply open up Safari or Firefox to find the answer, yielding yet another use for a computer.
Communication. It's quick, it's easy, it's casual, and it's efficient; e-mail is becoming one of the most popular forms of communication. Using the internet, one can use e-mail to chat with a friend, send out group invitations, or even advertise something. However, e-mail is not the only form of communication on the internet. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have become extremely popular among a wide range of individuals and groups of people. Businesses use them, children use them, sports teams use them, and now people can use them on their cell phones.
Entertainment. Another very common use of the internet is for sheer entertainment. Kids love using the internet for playing games on sites such as Miniclip and Armor Games. Adults like to use the internet to look up music and shop. However, one site that everyone can enjoy is YouTube. On this site with over a million videos, the viewer can watch clips from movies, sports highlights, or funny bloopers. All in all, people often find themselves on the internet for hours and hours because of its endless options and capabilities.
Digital Video and Audio Capabilities
One final use of computers is for its digital video and audio capabilities. Unlike typewriters, computers actually have a screen, allowing them to display a picture. Modern computers are also equipped with speakers, providing a way for us to hear audio. Recent programs allow the user to create their own music, art, and videos. Three examples of ways computers can show their digital video and audio capabilities are as follows:
Gaming and Videos
Graphics and design
Gaming and Videos. Gaming and watching videos is one of the most common uses of a computer's digital video and audio capabilities. With a CD drive, a person can pop in their favorite video game or watch a movie they recently received from the library. If the user has internet, they can simply go on sites such as Miniclip and Youtube, as mentioned above.
Music. Computers have had a huge impact on the music industry, as individuals have an unlimited way to listen to their favorite artists. One popular program that allows one to do this is iTunes. In iTunes, a person can research new music, listen to music they already have, or make playlists for a friend. With music easily accessible on one's computer, CD and record stores are going out of business.
Graphics and Design. One final use of a computer's digital video and audio capabilities is graphics and design. Many modern artists enjoy creating art on their computers. There are many programs for a computer that allow the artist to do almost anything they choose. They can draw curved lines, perfectly straight lines, shapes, letters, etc. Also, there is no mess! However, art isn't the only spectrum of graphics and design. Nowadays, architecture is almost always done on a computer. There are even a few architectural programs, such as Google SketchUp, that provide 3-D outlooks on whatever is being created. Overall graphics and design are just another use of a computer's digital video and audio capabilities.
So what is a computer used for? Well, in these days, just about anything. However, computers are most commonly used for word processing (able to perform composition, editing and formatting, and sending), internet (for the user to obtain information, communicate, and be entertained), and digital video and audio capabilities (which includes gaming and videos, music, and graphics and design).