Hello friends! You must have heard that the computer is very useful to us. They are used by different people to do different types of work. You may already know we can watch movies and cartoons on a computer or listen to music besides that we can even play games like cricket or car racing. You can draw pictures or color the pictures. You can also use a computer to calculate and solve sums. You can also use the computer to type letters and messages. We can send emails to our friends. Teachers use computer to teach in the classroom. Computers are used at railway stations and airports to reserve tickets.
Computers might seem very smart, but they are actually just boxes that follow instructions very quickly and accurately. As intelligent humans we can get them to carry out different tasks by writing programs, or lists of instructions. Computers can’t think. A computer won’t do anything by itself. It’s up to the computer programmer to give it instructions. You can tell a computer what to do by writing a set of very detailed instructions called a program. Each instruction has to be small enough that the computer can understand it. If the instructions are incorrect the computer won’t behave the way you want it to.
Friends, did you know that computers actually follow a set of instructions written by humans. This set of instructions is called computer programming language that enables computers to understand us. They are like super machines. Aren’t they?
What is a computer program?
On a computer you can do all sorts of things, playing games do homework or talk to friends. All these things are done using computer programs. But what are computer program made up of? Computer programs are made up of their own special language called code. A computer can’t think by him or you cannot talk to it like a person. It needs computer programs so it knows what to do. Code is made out of words and numbers. Sometimes it is made from the words you already know. You can learn how to put these words in order so the computer understands what to do. You can change the numbers and the words to choose what happens in your own program. There are lots of more things you can do it. It is your code so you can choose. It’s up to you and your imagination.
Computer can only follow instructions in a language they understand. For example you can understand Hindi and English, in the same way the computer only understands the programming language. A computer program is a set of instructions that a computer follows to complete a task. Coding or programming means writing the step-by-step instructions that tell the computer what to do.
There is a huge range of programing languages to choose from. Each one can be used for different tasks. Here are some of the popular languages and what they are used for:
- C: Building computer operating system.
- MATLAB: Performing calculations.
All programs are finally converted into ‘binary code’. It is a basic computer language that uses only ones and zeros.
Applications of a coding
We are surrounded by computer programs. Many of the devices and gadgets we use each day are controlled by them. These machines all follow step-by-step instructions written by a computer programmer.
- Cell Phones
Programs allow you to make a phone call or send text messages. When you search for a contact, a program finds the correct phone number.
- Computer Software
Everything a computer does, from browsing the Internet to writing documents or playing music, works because of code written by a computer programmer.
Consoles are just another type of computers, and all the games that run on them are programs. All the graphics, sounds and controls are written in computer code.
- Washing Machines
Washing machines are programmed to follow different cycles. Computer code controls how hot the water is and how the wash takes.
In some cars, computer programs monitor the speed, temperature and amount of fuel in the tank. Computer programs can even control the brakes to keep people safe.
Let me tell you an interesting story about how it works and who was the behind the invention of computer programming.
Making a language that both computer and humans could understand was a tough job. In the earlier days computer programs were written in lengthy instructions using binary codes. Binary codes are a combination of 0’s and 1’s. Every single word was written in a combination of 0’s and 1’s. This turned out to be quite time consuming and frustrating for programmers. Grace Hopper rescued all. She was an American computer scientist. He always liked to work around things. She dismantled the computer part by part and started understanding the way it functions. She discovered that a computer is very similar to a library. The information in computer was stored in specific locations in a specific order just like the books in the library. She called these locations call numbers and grouped them on a record. Then she wrote down all the call numbers in English and the computer would find them from the record. The computer worked out by decoding the English words. It found the locations and performed the required action. This was the first time that someone made the computer understand humans without using the binary codes.
Sadly, no one believed her for 3 long years. In 1952, things took a sharp turn when one of her senior gave her a chance to prove her. She grabbed the opportunity and presented the first ever computer program which was known as the A-0 compiler. She then created better versions of A-0 compiler. The best was b0 which also paved way for the development of the programming language called COBOL. COBOL was very user friendly and fast and it soon started taking over our daily lives. It could produce bills and do complicated calculations in just few seconds. Even today it is been used. Over 80% of the business transactions today are done with the help of COBOL.
Grace also invented the term bug and debug relating to computer errors. She named it bug because one day her computer was not working properly; she opened the computer and found a bug inside it and named the computer error as bug.
So friends, this is how computers came to understand our language.