And new capabilities are being added to chips. These include microelectromechanical systems (MEMs), "such as sensors and actuators, and digital signal processors that enable cost reductions and extend it into new types of devices. Examples of MEM devices include ink-jet printer cartridges, hard disk drive heads, accelerometers that deploy car airbags, and chemical and environmental sensors" (Gulliksen 2000).
Trends toward improvements in microelectronics and MEMs are expected to continue as well in information storage, networking and applications of information technology (it).
Information storage is necessary for a digital computer. Its process, not being analogous, need to be stored and then reused as the problem advances. Disk drives and other storage for information are improving in cost and performance. The amount of original information that can be stored has expanded so much that it is now estimated that most of the information in the world is now stored on various kinds of disk drives. And as the world wide web expands, this information has become increasingly available to everyone. Computers have improved incrementally with the amount of storage space made available, due to improvements in other areas, such as semiconductors, increasingly inexpensive and efficient microchips and the world-wide acceleration in the production of less expensive computers.
Networking is another reason for the trend in the growth of digital design, versus analogous design for computers. As computers connect to each other in networks, both wide area and local area networks, specialized software and hardware are becoming standardized and Internet based. As more people connect to the networks, the acceptance of the original digital design is becoming committed. Worldwide, there were 100 million Internet hosts or server computers connected to the Internet, in July of 2000, an increase from 30 million just two years earlier.
As the array of applications that make it more useful to everything from cars to individual computers to huge corporations, become more powerful and convenient, the use of digital design has left analogous design far behind. Originally, the digital computer was used primarily to process data, but their use expanded to word processing, spreadsheets and database programs. However, over the last twenty years, software has so improved and enabled applications, that uses have been expanded to "educational software, desktop publishing, computer-aided design and manufacturing, games, modeling and simulation, networking and communications software, electronic mail, the World Wide Web, digital imaging and photography, audio and video applications, electronic commerce applications, groupware, file sharing, search engines" and other applications (Significance 9).
When computers were primarily used in the offices of large companies and agencies who wished to store data, the digital mode of computing was more available and had the advantages of easy access and equal speed to analogous computing. But as the expansion of information technology has spread to practically everyone, not just the corporations or those in computer-related jobs, and the cost of a computer and software has decreased exponentially, until it has reached other arenas, such as photography, automobile diagnoses, research for parts or information on the Internet, debit and credit transactions, instant messaging, fiber-optic information transmission, peer-to-peer transmission on telephones and music downloads.
Most of these "edge" technology system uses depend upon large amounts of storage space. Processing cycles and content are stored after being temporarily connected to the Internet, but then the device is utilized as a "stand-alone." Yet, digital design has so dominated the market and the myriad of processes that information technology uses, that analogous design, though more efficient, would not be viable in most applications today. The trend toward digital design continues, and in the future most mobile phones will serve as small computers, accessing the Internet, storing information, providing games, information on local services, calculators, text messaging, and providing e-mail, though some already do.
Bianchi, Luigi M. Analog vs. Digital. York University. 2007. http://www.yorku.ca/sasit/sts/sts3700b/lecture20a.html.
Gulliksen, J.E. "MST vs. MEMS: Where Are We?" Semiconductor Technology 1. 10/Oct 2000. http://www.semi.org/web/wmagazine.nsf/.
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Significance of Information Technology: Trends in it." Science and Engineering Indicators 2002. Washington D.C.: National Science Foundation. 2002. http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind02/c8/c8s1.htm.
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