29 - Sep 11, 2011

Over the years, microprocessors have become such an integral part of our lives that we often do not have the slightest idea that a product being used by a child or even an otherwise 'technology un-savvy person' comprises of highly complicated 'circuitry' and have embedded microprocessors.

Two of the most commonly used products: remote of a television set and a cellular phone are commonly used gadgets that have the most elaborate and intricate electronic circuits packed in a very handy toy-like product.

Most of the users even do not bother to understand how and why these gadgets have been developed. However, the movement these products start malfunctioning and/or stop functioning we realize that life reaches at a grinding halt.

Computers and telecommunication technologies have achieved unprecedented growth. Since the technology is based on 'building blocks' millions of isolated individuals are busy on achieving new excellence in their respective fields.

The original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are the biggest buyers of new technologies. Their in-house research and development (R&D) departments buy out innovations and make it part of their own brands.

One such example is Intel, the largest manufacturers of microprocessors. Majority of the manufacturers of personal computers use its microprocessors. Similar is the example of Microsoft, the global leaders in software development. Its software are integral part of the operating systems delivered by the hardware vendors. The beauty is that one buys any brand of computer but he/she can use the same software. The added advantage is that updates are released very frequently and installing those on the existing systems is also very easy.

Sharing of crucial data has always been a critical issue for the users of computers. A typical business entity employs dozens or even thousands of people. Some of them are located under the same roof but many are located in other cities and countries. Communicating with them has always been a serious issue because of time sensitiveness nature of the information. Exchanging letters, sending telex and facsimile have always been expensive and time consuming.

The exercise that started with developing local area networks has attained the shape of World Wide Web (WWW). Internet is the most commonly used 'electronic highway'. Convergence of computer and telecommunication technologies has helped in achieving the new heights in excellence, which are not only cost and effective but its use is very convenient. Now students of even grade II are seen using the internet, though most of their time is spent on chatting etc.

One of the important uses of the technology is in Karachi stock market. Trading is done through terminals connected through a dedicated system called KATS (Karachi Automated Trading System), settlements are done through another system owned and operated by National Clearing Company of Pakistan (NCCPL) and electronic record of shareholding is kept by Central Depository Company (CDC), which has created paperless environment.

Now some of the companies also offer trading platform, enabling an individual to buy and sell shares while using his/her own computer. Trading of shares can only be done through a member of stock exchange.

Banks use technology most extensively. Now all the posting and transfers are done through computer terminals and the branches are interconnected. All the banks are busy in making their branches online. Now almost all the branches located in urban areas have attained the status of 'online' branch and rural branches are also being upgraded.

DSL connections provided by many internet service providers (ISPs) have made the job simple because of wireless connectivity. This has freed the users from a common excuse, which they had to hear that 'there is a cable fault and it may take hours/day to rectify'.

ATMs, debit and credit cards have become a must in our lives. Initially, ATMs were installed to contain the traffic of accountholders at the branches. The selfish motive behind this was to retain most of the cash of accountholders with the banks so that their treasury income could be enhanced.

Now people make withdrawals many times rather than withdrawing the full cash. It is also said that credit card is a facility provided by the banks to their accountholders. However, the facility to spend even when there is no money in the pocket and credit rollover by making minimum payment may help the cardholders to meet the emergency. However, soon this facility becomes a bad habit as people develop the habit of living beyond means. With the passage of time, they start defaulting, unable to make the minimum payment.

Credit card is certainly a facility for those who use it prudently but a curse for 'bad finance managers'.

Use of computers and telecommunication has changed the entire scenario. Now whatever is happening in the United States of America is also watched by a viewer located in remote areas of Pakistan.

The outdoor broadcast (OB) vans have gone one step further watching it live wherever and whenever it is happening. Though it has reduced the importance of newspapers and magazines to a large extent print media still remain trillion dollars business around the globe. In fact, introduction of 'desktop publishing system', deployment of scanners and other software improved the quality of print media as well as coverage is most current.

Use of computers in film and television production has completely revolutionized the industry. Computer based editing and animation are producing wonderful films and television programs.