An introduction to how importance computers are.
More and more companies have joined the computing revolution and it is now very important to ensure compatibility between different manufacturer's hardware and software products. One way to do this to maintain 'professional standards'.
Imagine buying a TV. You never think about whether the plug on the end of the TV's lead will actually fit into the wall socket and use the same voltage as in your house. You just assume it does!
Imagine a situation where you have 100 printer manufactures and a 100 computer manufacturers. There was a time about 30 to 40 years ago when a printer manufacturer made a printer for a specific computer manufacturer. If you had a computer and needed a printer, you had to go to just one maker of printers. These days, you probably don't even think about whether a printer will work with your computer. If you need a printer, you just go and buy one after reading the reviews, perhaps checking that it will work with your operating system. You don't ever think about whether the lead from the printer will connect to your computer, or whether they both use the same electrical signals, or use control signals that both the printer and computer can understand. It is the same for all hardware. They just plug into your computer and work. When I create a network of computers, they just connect together and work. Any software I buy also just loads up and works (as long as it is for the correct operating system).
This situation hasn't happened by accident.
- There is a set of rules that govern the connection between a web cam and a computer using a USB port.
- There is a set of rules that govern how a mouse will communicate with a computer.
- There is a set of rules governing how printers and computers will be connected together.
- There are sets of rules governing how software is to be loaded up on a Windows operating system and how it will interact with the operating system.
- There are sets of rules that govern how all pieces of equipment connect together and how all software products work together.
- There are sets of rules that dictate how the user interface of a piece of software will work.
- There are sets of rules that define how communications take place across networks and the Internet.
These sets of rules are known as 'standards' although you may also see the word 'protocol' and all manufacturers work to the same standards or protocols. The big advantage to manufacturers is that their products are available to a much bigger set of customers. The customer wins, too, because they have a much bigger variety of products to choose from when they need some new hardware or software.
There are actually organisations set-up to define, maintain and develop standards. ANSI, IEEE and ISO are three of the largest organisations, For example, the IEEE are responsible for setting up many electrical standards. One of these is called the RS232C and is to do with the rules for communicating serially. If you ever buy a mouse for your computer, you can buy anyone you like and plug it in and it will work. This is because they all use the same set of rules to govern communication, the set of rules known as the RS232C.
Examples of standards
You may have heard of some standards but not realised they were actually a standard, a set of rules. Some common ones include:
- http (hypertext transfer protocol - used to send information across the Internet so it can be read by any browser).
- https (hypertext transfer protocol secure - used to send encrypted information across the Internet)
- mp3 (a standard for storing audio files)
- avi (a standard for movie files)
- flv (flash video - another standard for movie files, used by YouTube)
- JPG (a standard for storing pictures)
Summary of what I have learnt on professional stan
There are thousands of standards that cover a wide range of hardware and software. Standards ensure manufacturers can reach as many customers as possible and ensure customers have as much choice as possible when buying new equipment. If companies produced products in the way that they wanted to, without reagrd to anyone else's products, communication between computers and the setting up of networks like the Internet would not be possible - you wouldn't be able to transfer data between drives.