The computers in our lives are remarkably multitalented devices. They perform classic computer tasks, such as running word processing and spreadsheet applications, as well as handling Internet applications, such as e-mail, Web browsers, and calendars. Yet these miracles of modern computing still work in much the same way as the first electronic computers did more than half a century ago.  

At their heart, all computers perform the same inner functions, manipulating sequences of zeros and ones (OFF and ON), also known as bits. Bits are grouped into bytes (eight bits equal one byte), and these are used to represent things like instructions, numerical values, characters, and memory locations. Computers are a combination of hardware—the components you see (and some that are too small to see)—and software—the programs containing instructions that tell the computer what to do.

Brian Tkacz is a 20-year veteran in large-scale Information Technology strategy and delivery roles.  He is currently a Senior Director in Information Technology for Markel Corporation (NYSE: MKL), a holding company for insurance, reinsurance, and investment operations around the world. Mr. Tkacz is also an experienced business leader, general manager, and successful P&L owner in the insurance and financial services industries, and is a member of the Board of Directors of United Security Bank (NASDAQ: UBFO).