The first freely programmable computer was invented in 1936 by Konrad Zuse of the Henschel Aircraft Company in Berlin – Germany.
Since that time, invention of several kinds of computers emerged gradually till fusion occurred between computing and communication to give birth to information technology.
Part of this is the Internet which was created by the US Department of Defence in 1969. The development was based purely on individual thoughts and was also very sudden.
The purpose of the initiative was to share research among military, industry and university and also to ensure that in an event of nuclear attack, communication would be sustained efficiently.
However, as recent as 1992, effective browsing tools were non-existent. It was after 1994 that the net became versatile, and has now become the world's biggest computer network.
It uses a standardised set of computer guidelines that allow different computers on different networks to communicate with each other. This set is called the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).
Specifically, a communications protocol is a set of conventions governing the exchange of data between hardware and software components in a communications network.
Currently, the net connects approximately 140,000 smaller networks in over 200 countries. Some facilities in the Internet are E– mail, Use Net Newsgroups, Mailing Lists, File Transfer Protocol, Gopher space, Telnet and the World Wide Web.
The E – mail links computers by wired or wireless connections and allows users to send and receive messages.
The Use Net Newsgroups are electronic discussion groups that focus on specific topics.
Mailing Lists is a combination of email and newsgroups to get listservs, to which one can subscribe freely and receive email on a particular subject: And every one else on the list receives those messages.
Gopherspace is a uniform system of menus that allows users to browse and retrieve files stored on different computers by making successive menu selections. Telnet is a terminal emulation protocol that allows connections to remote computers.
The most frequently used part of the net is the Web which is a graphics based component that provides multimedia information. The computer language used on the web is called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) designed in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States of America.
It is a set of special instructions called tags that are used to specify document structure, formatting and links to other documents. These documents travel back and forth using the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), which is the communications standard used to transfer information on the web.
The places visited on the web are called web sites, which are Internet locations of a computer or server on which hyperlinked documents are stored. On a web site are web pages. Services that can be obtained from Internet usage are university admissions, scholarships, jobs, contracts and entertainment spots. Items can also be sold or purchased on the net.
The first screen seen when a web site is accessed is called the home page. To access a web site, a web browser which is graphical interface software is used together with a web address. Examples of browsers are Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Opera. The address of a particular web site is called a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) which is sensitive to capital and small letters.
When viewing a particular page, hyperlinked to other pages are highlighted in color or underlined. When the mouse pointer is moved to a hyperlink, the pointer is changed into a hand and by clicking on the hyperlink, that link can be accessed. Items in a flowchart which are not hyperlinks can be accessed by clicking twice.
Even with all the sophistication and high speed network connections, it has been difficult to access certain sites. High memory networks may solve this problem but this research has one important suggestion to make.
The National Communications Authority is implored to entreat Internet service providers to ensure that the web sites be converted into textbooks or pamphlets and placed in special sections of libraries and cafes in order to obtain private information centres.
By so doing, if there is power failure or congestion in the information super highway, the sites can still be reached. Also, organisations that accept Internet communication only may be appealed to, to accept alternative modes of systems because if the entire world populace is forced into a single aircraft, it may crash.
Information stored on the net has been found to be excellent, hence the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Information Ministry are implored to introduce information technology and Internet use to children at the basic schools and make the subject compulsory at the secondary level.
Due to the varying speed of the web site, the billing system for Internet usage may be based on the number of characters retrieved in a session, rather than the length of time spent during a session.
In this case intricate sophistication which is whamming to daily finance may be reduced. Also, the sophistication of web sites may be checked to ensure economic utilisation that would ensure sustainability of the world's financial resource.
New technologies can be exciting but if there is nobody to check the speed with which humanity is running, there would be economic chaos.
The appeal is also being made to Ghanaian universities to revamp the interface between laboratory and industry, by producing blue prints at the universities. Industry may then acquire local technologies for commercial production.
For example, the Departments of Electrical Engineering, Physics and Computer Science of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology may form a research team that would develop a data base system that would be used for communication purposes.
This team may also carry out actions that would ensure the production of computers and all other communication equipment.
The most recent achievement of the author of this paper is the design of a single hydroelectric dam for the Akosombo Gorge, which can supply power to the entire continent of Africa.
This design, called Dfeuw, consists of several series of turbines; one after the other, in a slanting manner, such that at the point of exit, the Volta River may not be seen flowing on the surface anymore, but through an underground tunnel, straight into the sea, About 30 turbines can be installed in such a dam. In that case, cheap electric power would become a reality to boost industrial development.
Political eruptions in which academics are maltreated and finished in this country should therefore be discouraged by everybody because knowledge is the only tool for genuine development.
By Prof. D. K. Mensah