The computer is a complicated piece of equipment that makes our lives easy, but that was not always the case.The computer has evolved from a black screen with words in it (movies from the late 70’s and early 80’s show early versions of personal computers), to a fancy screen with graphics and icons. We use computers to play games, to create documents, to browse the internet for information or for fun; but, there is more than meets the eye. The computer uses a specific language, and also a fancy way to communicate data between its parts. Here are a few basics that will help you get a better idea how the computer works:
1. The computer uses a language known as binary. All the storing and reading in your computer is done only in two states and 1 and 0 are the two numbers used in their number system. So everything that you type on your keyboard is translated to the binary system. By the way, your keyboard is considered to be the vehicle for input.
- · 1 and 0 are called a bit
- · 8 bits are called a byte
2. The computer is composed of hardware and software.
- · The hardware is all of the computer’s components, for example: monitor, printer, and motherboard, to name a few.
- · The software are all the instructions written for the computer’s hardware to function properly; however, hardware also possess ways to communicate with software. Microsoft office, virus scanners, computer games, all are examples of software.
- · There are four basic reasons that software gives instructions to hardware. These reasons are: input, output, processing and storage
- · A computer needs electricity in order for hardware and software to work and communicate with each other.
3. The motherboard is the most important circuit board on your computer, the motherboard has all of these ports to connect the rest of the hardware.
- There are two types of memory devices, primary memory and secondary memory. The primary storage of a computer is called RAM (Random Access Memory) and is located in the motherboard. This type of memory stores information on a temporary base, thats why it is important that you save your data often, this storage device will not store your data if the computer loses electrical power. The hard drive is a secondary memory device, and it is the place where data goes when it is saved on your computer, other permanent memory devices are flash drives, CD’s, etc.
4. The Operating System is software that manages and controls the computer through the use of an interface. In the past, the interface was basically a black monitor with no graphics, and now the interface of operating systems has evolved to allow multiple users. The Operating system runs applications, stores, retrieves, manipulates data and files, and controls hardware.
- All the Windows versions are examples of Operating systems, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 2000, etc. And most of these Operating systems have been in need of fixes and patches and some even a service pack (major update or fix to an operating system). Other less popular Operating Systems are UNIX and LINUX with the latest being use mostly to run network services on the internet.
5. There are two very popular computer processors, one is 32 bits (x86) and must use 32 bit operating systems; however, you can get a 64 bit operating system that is compatible to run a 32 bit processor, the other processor is a 64 bit and must use a 64 operating system.
This is just a general explanation about computers and their functions, there are plenty of books, tutorials, and videos that can help you gain more exposure to the computer world.
Refereces: CompTIA A+ 2009 In Depth Jean Andrews, Ph.D.