When we run multiple tasks e.g. working on document, playing music, downloading files, copying and pasting files, we seem to think that the computer is doing all these tasks simultaneously. Meanwhile, the computer just appears to be but in reality the computer is switching between all the processes at extremely high speeds and at the same time making each process believe they have its total attention and complete control at all times. This impression is managed by the computer’s Operating System, it manages the switches so high you and the process running do not know it.
The operating system manages the system resources, allocates memory to each process and makes sure no memory overlaps. Someone might say but the earliest computers didn’t have operating systems; yes they didn’t but they were huge machines tasked with one program at a time hence they didn’t really need operating systems. The first ever version of the Windows OS was released by Microsoft in 1985. Microsoft however released it MS-DOS OS in 1981. We also have such computers in our day that doesn’t require an operating system since they are only assigned to do one task e.g. microwave oven, washing machine, etc.
Without an OS you can also run your desktop but you will have to write the codes that must tell the computer what to do at all time. For Instance, if you are writing a word document, you will have to write the code to teach the computer how to respond to every character, save the file into directory, print the file all at different time (one after the other).
So next time when you use your smartphone or computer to perform multiple tasks at the same time, remember to say thank you to the computer’s manager – The Operating System.
- Computer OS: Windows OS(developed by Microsoft), Mac OS (developed by Apple), Linux and Unix etc.
- Smartphone OS: Apple iOS (developed by Apple), Android OS (developed by Google), Blackberry OS (developed by BlackBerry Limited formerly Research in Motion), Windows OS(Microsoft) etc.