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Computer Hardware and Operating Systems. Learn to adapt to change and be self sufficient. Objectives. Remove the “fear” factor and discuss: How the computer hardware components fit together How data is stored How to add peripherals How to maintain your computer

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Computer Hardwareand Operating Systems

Learn to adapt to change and be self sufficient

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  • Remove the “fear” factor and discuss:

    • How the computer hardware components fit together

    • How data is stored

    • How to add peripherals

    • How to maintain your computer

    • How operating systems function

    • Similarities and differences among PCs and operating systems

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Computer Basics

  • Hardware -

    • Built around tiny microprocessor (controls system)

      • Central Processing Unit (CPU), chip housed in box and is command central

      • Controls operation of core components

    • RAM - thinking memory

    • Hard disk - permanent storage like a filing cabinet

    • Removable media - USB memory key, CD ROM, DVDs

    • Video card, sound card, network interface card, modem (now part of motherboard)

    • Perpherals attach via cables or wireless connections

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Storage Device

VRAM and Video Control



A Simple Computer




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  • CPU - central processing unit

    • The “brains and the traffic cop”

  • ROM - Read only memory

    • The “burnt-in” factory instructions

  • DRAM - Dynamic random access memory

    • Volatile memory used by software and operating system

  • VRAM - Video random access memory

    • Special memory used by video boards

  • BUS - is the bus

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Computer StorageBits and Bytes

All computers can only store bits - a series of Off/On switches.

A Bit is either a 1 or a 0

A Byte is 8 Bitsin sequence



= 7 (decimal)




7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

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Storing Large Numbers




= Word (16 bits)


= Long Word (32 Bits)

DRAM storage in Mega Bytes

1 Kbyte = 210 bytes=1024

1 Mbyte = 1024Kbytes

Typical Pentium/Power Mac has DRAM of 256+ MB

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How much is an Exabyte?

  • Bit A binary decision - Y/N, B/W, On/Off

  • ByteA character (ASCII coded)

  • 5 BytesA word

  • 2KBA single page (double spaced)

  • 100KBLow resolution photo - screen size (jpeg)

  • 1MB A small novel

  • 5 MB Complete works of Shakespeare or 30 sec of TV video (compressed)

  • 1GBA pickup truck filled with paper OR 10 metres of shelved books or a symphony in high-fidelity sound OR A movie at TV quality (Mpeg compressed)

  • 1 Terabyte A small academic research library

  • 1 PetabyteAll US research libraries

  • 200 PBAll printed material in world

  • 5 ExabytesAll the words ever spoken by mankind

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Exchanging Data

ORIGINALLY The universal code that all computers “speak”:

ASCII—American Standard Code for

Information Interchange.

All 128 characters are stored as a binary code (7 bits)

Extended ASCII (introduced by IBM in 1981

uses all 8 bits and stored 256 characters


= 65(Dec) "A"


= 66(Dec) "B"


= 32(Dec) "SPACE"

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Exchanging data

  • All computers can save a “text” or alphanumeric file in ASCii but can’t accommodate foreign languages

  • The 16 bit UNICODE replaced ASCii in 1992 became international standard for alphanumeric storage.

  • Modern operating systems, eMail and all WEB browsers all support the unicode character set for alphanumeric storage.

  • Applications and system files store their data in a proprietary binary format.

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File Organization

  • Operating systems organize data in files which are stored on computers in directories (folders) in a hierarchical manner

  • A special file on the computer’s hard disk -”the disk directory” tells the operating system where files are located on the hard disk.













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File Types - Read the file EXTENSION

  • File Extension - gives more informatio about the file’s origin and use

  • Alaphanumeric files - a collective term used to identify letters of the Latin alphabet and Arabic digits. There are either 36 (single case) or 62 (case-sensitive) alphanumeric characters. The alphanumeric character set consists of the numbers 0 to 9 and letters A to Z.

    • (.txt) - simple ASCii characters

      • American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), is a character encoding based on the English alphabet. ASCII codes represent text in computers, communications equipment, and other devices that work with text.

    • (.rtf) - simple ASCii plus basic formatting (bold, italic etc.)

    • (.html) - web page source files

  • Binary files - computer files which may contain any type of data, encoded in binary (base 2) form for computer storage and processing purposes

    • MS Office - .doc, .xls, .ppt

    • Raster (Bit-map) Image - .gif, .jpeg, .png, .tiff

    • Vector Image - .EPS,.SVG,.pct

    • Sound - .aac, aiff, .mp3,.wav

    • Movie - mpeg, quicktime (.mov), .avi, .ram

    • Compressed - .zip, .sit

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How does data move?

32 Bit processing/32Bit addressing


P4 or G4


Note: new Mac G5 (64 Bit) addresses 8GB DRAM


addresses up to 4GB

Bus Speed

400 MHz

32 Bit


Bus carries address, data and timing

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How does data move on the new generation of computers?

64 Bit processing/64Bit addressing



or G5



addresses up to 8GB

Bus Speed

1000 MHz

64 Bit


Bus carries address, data and timing

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200GB Serial ATA

Hard Drive

Modern CPU

Dual G5 Processors @ 2.0 GHz


Digital Display


Up to 8GB

Boot Rom


1 Ghz Frontside Bus


Video card



PCI Cards

The Bus (64 bit/400 Mhz)

USB Serial Bus (up to 127 devices @ 440/12Mbits/s)

Firewire Bus (57 devices

@ 800/400Mbits/s)

Bluetooth Wireless

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  • RISC - reduced instruction set computer. Fewer on board instructions faster processing. PowerPC 750 (Mac G4 up to 1.6 GHz, G5 to 2.5 GHz)

    • As of 2007, common RISC microprocessors families include the DEC Alpha, ARC, ARM, AVR, MIPS, PA-RISC, Power Architecture (including PowerPC), and SPARC.

  • CISC - complex instruction set. More built-in instructions, slower processing. Pentium 4 (PCs up to 3.4 Ghz)

    • Modern x86 processors also decode and split more complex instructions into a series of smaller internal "micro-operations" which can thereby be executed in a pipelined (parallel) fashion, thus achieving high performance on a much larger subset of instructions.

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CPU Comparisons

Macintosh Computers

IBM Compatibles

Note: Mobile chips (Laptops) are slower and have slower bus speeds to reduce heat

and conserve energy. e.g P4-M max is 2.2 GHz but runs generally at 1.2 GHz.

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Expansion Ports

Serial Ports RS422A (Printer & Modem) (old CPUS)

PS/2 Ports Old PC mouse and Keyboard serial port

SCSI Small Computer Standard Interface (Fast Hard Disk etc)

IDE/ATA Control of Hard Drives

PCI Peripheral Component Interface. Slots

On bus for cards such as sound, modem

network etc. (33 and 66 and 133 Mhz)

Today’s Preferred Connection Ports are outside the computer

USB (1.1 & 2.0) Universal Serial Bus (Keyboards, Mice, Caneras, HDs)

Firewire IEEE1394. High speed serial (Video Cams, Scanners, HDs)

Bluetooth Wireless mice ,keyboards, PDAs, Cell Phones

802.11 a and g WiFi (wireless fidelity) networks connecting cpus together

or to internet.

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Data transfer rates

  • SCSI - (1.7- 80 MBps)- parallel bus 8/16 bit - 8 devices

  • USB 1.1 and 2.0 (12-440Mbs) - serial bus 127 devices (hot plug).

  • Firewire IEEE 1394 (400-800 Mbps) - serial bus 63 devices (hot plug)

  • Ethernet (10-1000 Mbps) - depends on network (1-2 MBps usual)

  • PCI - 133-266 MB/sec

  • Bluetooth - Wireless networks up to 720kbps (10m range)

  • 802.11a and g -WiFi networks connections (11 and 57Mbps)

    (Words per min approx = bps)

    Note difference between MBps and Mbps (1MBps=8Mbps)

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Connecting Ports

Look for the symbols!



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How Powerful is My Computer?

Hardware variables:

  • Type of CPU (CISC Pentium or AMD, RISC G4)

    amount of L2 and L3 cache, number of pipeline stages

  • Speed and Numbers of CPUs (up 3 GHz+). Dual CPU PCs faster

  • Bits processed by CPU(32 or recently 64bit)

  • Amount of DRAM (up to 4GB)

  • Width of Bus (32 bit recently 64 bit)

  • Speed of Bus (66/400 Mhz)

  • Speed of Front End Bus (Up to 1 GHz on new G5)

  • Type and Speed of Hard Drive (7200 rpm)

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  • CPU controlled by series of instructions (software)

  • System Software

    • Examples?

  • Applications Software

    • Examples?

  • Document - a file created by…

  • File - Collection of data

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Maintaining your Computer

  • Millions of $ could be saved every year if computer users had more knowledge of how to maintain their computer

    • Maintain hard drive - defragment and rebuild directory frequently

    • Update operating system and software

    • Check for viruses - use antivirus protection

    • Avoid hackers - use a firewall

    • Keep hardware clean and cool

    • Keep yourself up-to-date with latest information - use Email subscriptions, E magazines, Web news, TV shows etc.

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System Crashes

  • All Operating Systemscan Crash

    • Bugs in System Software

    • Hardware conflicts

    • Errors in Drivers and 3rd Party Programs

    • LACK of conformity e.g. old app with new system or vv.

    • Viruses and Worms

  • Check for updatesoften (particularly Printer drivers).

    • This can be done automatically in Windows (Start menu) and MacOSX (Software Update)

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    How Hard Drives Work



    Hard disks store data in chunks called sectors (512 bytes )

    Location of files on disk is stored in Directory


    Next available sector for yellow file

    Gives FRAGMENTED file

    Non-contiguous Hard Disk (Fragmented)

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    USB Flash Memory

    • USB (Universal Serial Bus) Flash memory is the answer for many students who work on lab computers and wish to transport their work home

    • USB Flash Memory Drive provides an easy method for fast downloading or transferring digital files while holding more than 1400x the capacity of a floppy disk.

    • Should NOT be used other than for TRANSFER and STORAGE of files

    • Note USB 2.0 is 40X faster than USB 1.1

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    Disk Crashes!



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    Disk Maintenance and Data Recovery

    • Hard Drives should be fixed from an external hard drive containing operating system and repair tools.

    • Floppy disk should be ejected and the floppy drive operation tested with a different disk with non important data

    • Do not insert backup floppy into drive (you may damage it too if drive operation is flawed!)

    • Norton Utilities may fix problem if only a software problem with directory or files.

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    My Computer is Sick!

    • Trojan Horses

      • Secretly carries harmful software disguised in Email, mp3 music, jpegs, Word/Excel documents via macros etc,

    • Worms

      • Spread to other users via Email (uses Outlook address book) or network shared resources

    • Viruses

      • Many types that can damage your system

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    Install Antivirus Software

    • Norton Antivirus

      • Useless unless you download latest virus definitions

    • Macaffee VirusScan

      • Similar process to Norton

    • Sophos

      • University Licences this UK product

    • Free On-Line Scans

      • E.g. Trend Micro-Note does not protect your computer only reports viruses after infection

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    How to find out about Viruses

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    What is an Operating System?

    • Think of the O/S as doing two things:

      • It manages the hardware and software resources of the computer system. These resources include such things as the processor, memory, disk space, etc.

      • It provides a stable, consistent way for applications to deal with the hardware without having to know all the details of the hardware.

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    Operating System Specifics

    • A software program that loads on Boot

    • A general program that allows the components of a cpu to “talk” to one another: e.g. allows the keyboard to input data and output to the display or printer.

    • Provides a software platform on top of which other programs, called application programs, can run.

    • Separates individual users of a cpu and provides security

    • Provides Networking (Web, Intranet, Client-Peer)

    • Creates the USER GUI (graphical user interface)

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    Operating System - diagram




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    Classifying Operating Systems

    • Operating systems can be classified as follows:

      • Multi-user : Allows two or more users to run programs at the same time. Some operating systems permit hundreds or even thousands of concurrent users.

      • Multiprocessing : Supports running a program on more than one CPU.

      • Multitasking : Allows more than one program to run concurrently.

      • Multithreading : Allows different parts of a single program to run concurrently.

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    History of Operating Systems

    • 1970 - Unix developed at Bell laboratories

    • 1976 - Apple II

    • 1981 - IBM PC and MS DOS

    • 1984 - Apple Mac introduced (Mac OS)

    • 1985 - Windows 1.0 (Licensed from Apple)

    • 1988 - “Next “Computer (new OS NextStep based on Unix)

    • 1990 - Windows 3.0 (Apple sues!)

    • 1991 - Mac System 7.0 (32 bit architecture)

    • 1991 - Linux (a port of UNIX) introduced by Linus Thorvald

    • 1993 - Windows NT also First Web Browser (Mosaic)

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    History of Operating Systems

    • 1995 - Windows 95 (also Java unveiled)

    • 1997 - Mac OS 8 (Open Transport)

    • 1998 - Windows 98

    • 1999 - Mac OS 9.0 (Multiuser)

    • 2000 - Windows Me (Don’t bother)

    • 2000 - Windows 2000 (least crashing to date)

    • 2000 - Mac OSX ( Unix based open source)

    • 2001 - Windows XP (Oct)

    • 2003 - Mac OSX (Panther)

    • 2004 - Mac OSX (Tiger)

    • 2006 - Windows Vista

    • 2007 - Mac OSX Leopard

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    Modern PC Operating Systems

    Note: various other flavours of Unix on workstations e.g SUN solaris, AIX etc.

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    Online Learning Resources

    • Definitions


    • Hardware



    • How stuff Works




    • Tutorials for “Nerds” only


    • Video Tutorials (Simple)


    • Links to OSX