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Hardware Basics: Inside The Box. Topics. What Computers Do  Bits, Bytes, and Buzzwords The Computer’s Core The Computer’s Memory. Thomas J. Watson, Sr. . The “emperor” of IBM Created a culture of invention IBM remains an industry leader and innovator. Process Information. Produce

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  • What Computers Do
  •  Bits, Bytes, and Buzzwords
  • The Computer’s Core
  • The Computer’s Memory
thomas j watson sr
Thomas J. Watson, Sr.
  • The “emperor” of IBM
  • Created a culture of invention
  • IBM remains an industry leader and innovator
what computers do

Process Information





What Computers Do
what computers do1
What Computers Do

Store Information

input devices
Input Devices
  • The keyboard is the most common input device

Pointing devices like the mouse also receive input

output devices
Output Devices
  • Computers produce information and send it to the outside world.
  • A video monitor is a common output device.

Printers also produce output.

process information
Process Information
  • The processor, or central processing unit (CPU), processes information and performs all the necessary arithmetic calculations.

The CPU is like the “brain” of the computer.

store information
Store Information
  • Memory and storage devicesare used to store information
  • Primary storage is the computer’s main memory
  • Secondary storage uses disks or other media









Information comes in many forms

Computers store information in digital form

bit basics


Bit Basics
  • A bit (binary digit)
    • is the smallest unit of information
    • can have two values: 1 or 0
    • can represent numbers, codes, orinstructions
bits as numbers
Bits as Numbers
  • Each switch can be used to store a tiny amount of information, such as:
    • An answer to a yes/no question
    • A signal to turn on a light
  • Larger chunks of information are stored by grouping bits as units
    • 8 bits (byte) = 256 different messages
bits as codes
Bits As Codes

ASCII – American Standard Code for Information Interchange

Most widely used code, represents each character as a unique 8-bit code.

bits as instruction
Bits as Instruction
  • The computer stores instructions as collections of bits. For instance, 01101010 might instruct the computer to add two numbers.
  • Other bit instructions might include where to find numbers stored in memory or where to store them.
bits bytes and buzzwords

Kilobyte (KB)

Megabytes (MB)

Gigabytes (GB)

Terabytes (TB)

= 8 bits

= 1 Thousand Bytes

= 1 Million Bytes

= 1 Billion Bytes

= 1 Trillion Bytes

Bits, Bytes, and Buzzwords

Terms used to describe file size or memory size:

the cpu and memory
The CPU and Memory

The microprocessor that makes up your personal computer’s central processing unit, or CPU, is the ultimate computer brain, messenger, ringmasterand boss. All the other components—RAM, disk drives, the monitor— exist only to bridge the gap between you and the processor.

Ron White, in How Computers Work

the cpu
  • The CPU:
    • interprets and executes instructions
    • performs arithmetic and logical data manipulations
    • communicates with the other parts of the computer system.
the cpu1
  • The CPU is a complex collection of electronic circuits.
  • When all of those circuits are built into a single silicon chip, the chip is referred to as a microprocessor.
  • The circuit board that contains a computer’s CPU is called themotherboard or system board.
compatibility speed



Compatibility & Speed
  • When purchasing a computer, selecting a CPU is very important. The two most critical factors are:
  • Software is written for a specific processor and may not be compatible with another CPU.
  • Every processor has a built-in instruction set or vocabulary of instructions that only the processor can execute.
  • CPUs in the same family are generally designed to be backward compatible so newer processors can process all of the instructions handled by earlier models.
  • A computer’s speed is determined in part by the speed of its internal clock
  • The clock is a timing device that produces electrical pulses to synchronize the computer’s operations.
  • A computer’s clock speed is measured in units called megahertz (MHz), for millions of clock cycles per second

Clock speed by itself doesn’t adequately describe how fast a computer can process words, numbers, or pictures.

Speed is also limited by architecture and word size.

  • Parallel processingplaces multiple processors in a computer.
  • Most supercomputers have multiple processors that divide jobs into pieces and work in parallel on the pieces.
the computer s memory
The Computer’s Memory
  • RAM (random access memory):
    • is used to store program instructions and data temporarily
    • unique addresses and data can be stored in any location
    • can quickly retrieve information
    • will not remain if power goes off (volatile)
the computer s memory1
The Computer’s Memory
  • ROM (read-only memory):
    • information is stored permanently on a chip.
    • contains startup instructions and other permanent data.

Buses, Ports, and Peripherals

  • Buses connect to storage devices in open areas in the box called bays.
  • Information travels between components through groups of wires calledbuses.
buses ports and peripherals
Buses, Ports, and Peripherals
  • Busses also connect to slots inside the computer

Sockets on the outside of the computer called ports.

buses ports and peripherals1
Buses, Ports, and Peripherals
  • Slots and ports also allow external devices called peripheralsto be added to the system (keyboard, monitor, and mouse).
  • Without peripherals, the CPU and memory are like a brain without a body.