The Digital Revolution

What is the digital rRevolution?

The information and communication revolution began long before the invention of the electronic computer in 1943. In fact, many would claim that it began with the invention of the printing press way back in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg.

Since then humanity has seen the ‘death' of distance through the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, the distribution of information by radio waves through the invention of the radio by Marconi in 1895 and in the early part of the twentieth century the dissemination of visual (coupled with aural) information through television. Throughout the ages, technological breakthroughs have revolutionised communications and the spread of information. Even though the world's first electronic computer was invented during the middle of the Second World War, it was only with the invention of the microprocessor in the 1970s that the nature, capacity, power, usefulness of computers became accessible to the public. The world has not been the same since then.

The Digital Revolution is different from the technologies that were used earlier in our telephonic and broadcasting technologies. Those were analogue technologies, both mechanical and electronic. At the heart of the digital revolution is the mass production and widespread use of digital logic circuits and derivatives of it. These logic circuits helped in the digitisation of information (whether text, graphics, audio, video, or data).

The invention permitted almost immediately the conversion of previously stored data into analogues. By doing so it became possible to reproduce multiple copies/generations of that data identical to the original data without loss of information. It also permitted moving the information between various media formats, to access it and distribute it globally. Of the many reproductions, the most spectacular one, which has benefitted almost all of us, is the optical compact disc (CD). Do you remember when compact discs made their first appearance in Malaysia? These discs almost within a decade replaced completely the old analogue formats of the Long Playing vinyl discs, cassette tapes and 8, 16 and 32mm films. Other everyday examples where the microchips play a central role that you should be familiar with include computers, cell phones, scanners and fax machines. Wikipedia described this new revolution as follows:

To use an analogy, a digital world is a world united by one language, a world where people from across continents share ideas with one another and work together to build projects and ideas. More voluminous and accurate information is accumulated and generated, and distributed in a twinkling to an audience that understands exactly what is said. This in turn allows the recipients of the information to use it for their own purposes, to create ideas and to redistribute more ideas. The result is progress. Take this scenario to a technological level where all kinds of computers, equipment and appliances are interconnected and functioning as one unit. Even today, we see telephones exchanging information with computers, and computers playing compressed audio data files or live audio data streams that play music over the Internet like radios. Computers can play movies and tune in to television. Some modern homes allow a person to control central lighting and air-conditioning through computers. These are just some of the features of a digital world. (Source: Wikipedia).
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The video below is about the story of discoveries, inventions and innovations that progressively led to the digital revolution seen through the eyes of the Nobel Prize awarding agency.

Source: (Accessed 14 February 2012)

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