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Understanding Computers. Computer Applications Mrs. Stern. Computer History 3 Generations of Computers. The Vacuum Tube Years The Era of the Transistor Transistors on a Chip. The Vacuum Tube Years (1946-1958). Computers were: Huge Slow Expensive Often undependable

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Understanding computers

Understanding Computers

Computer Applications

Mrs. Stern

Computer history 3 generations of computers
Computer History3 Generations of Computers

  • The Vacuum Tube Years

  • The Era of the Transistor

  • Transistors on a Chip

The vacuum tube years 1946 1958
The Vacuum Tube Years (1946-1958)

  • Computers were:

    • Huge

    • Slow

    • Expensive

    • Often undependable

  • ENIAC was built in 1946

    • 18,000 vacuum tubes

    • Took up a lot of space

    • Gave off a lot of heat

      Cooled down by a gigantic air conditioner & still overheated regularly

  • Eniac electronic numerical integrator and calculator
    ENIAC Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator

    The era of the transistor 1959 1964
    The Era of the Transistor (1959-1964)

    • Transistor was like the vacuum tube only better:

      • Faster

      • More reliable

      • Much smaller

      • Cheaper to build

      • Gave off virtually no heat

      • 1 transistor replaced 40 vacuum tubes

    What it looked like
    What it looked like


    Transistor Beads Stem

    Transistor Radio

    Transistors on a chip 1965 current
    Transistors on a Chip (1965-current)

    • With the invention of Integrated Circuits or Microchip, thousands of transistors fit into one microchip

    • The number of transistors that fit onto a chip doubled every two years

    • Today:

      Millions per microchip

    Computers today can
    Computers today can:

    • Carry out instructions in billionths of a second

    • Are sometimes the size of a watch

      • Since electricity travels 1 foot in a billionth second

    • The smaller the distance the faster the speed

    What are computers made of
    What are computers made of?

    A combination of:




    What is hardware
    What is Hardware?

    • Hardware – the tangible, physical equipment that can be seen and touched

      • Keyboard

      • Monitor

      • Printer

      • Computer chips

    What is software
    What is software?

    • Software – the intangible instructions that tell the computer what to do

      • PowerPoint

      • Windows XP

      • Sims City

      • Oregon Trail

    • Programmers – write the instructions that tell the computer what to do

    Computers are simple devices
    Computers are Simple Devices

    • They perform FOUR basic functions:

      • Store data and programs

      • Function unattended due to its ability to interpret and follow instructions it is provided

      • Do arithmetic calculations

      • Perform logical comparisons 

    What makes it such a powerful device
    What makes it such a powerful device?

    • It only has FOUR basic functions

      • Its tremendous speed

      • Its accuracy

      • Its ability to store vast volumes of data

    Where are the instructions stored
    Where are the instructions stored?

    In the computers memory:

    • Internalmemory (ex. microchips)

      • RAM(random-access memory) This is temporary & can be erased. (ie: Microsoft Office Xp, Internet Explorer)

      • ROM (read-only memory) - This is permanent & can not be changed or erased.

    • Externalmemory (ex. DVD’s & hard drives)

    Input output devices
    Input & Output Devices

    Input device: hardware that permits the computer to accept data 

    • Keyboard

    • A mouse

    • Bar-code scanner

    • Light pen

    • Touch display screen

    • Speech recognition device

    Output devices
    Output Devices

    Hardware which reports the information in a form we can understand

    • monitor

    • printer

    • robots

    • sound or music speakers


    • Is the computer chip that receives & carries out the instructions from the software

    • All computers big & small have processors also known as Central Processing Units or CPUs

    • Referred to as brains of the computer

    Functions the processor performs
    Functions the processor performs:

    • Receives & temporarily stores instructions & data to be processed

    • Moves & changes stored data

    • Arithmetic calculations

    • Makes decisions of logic (ex: determines if two numbers are equal)

    External storage
    External Storage

    • They hold data outside the memory of the computer.

    • They connect to the computer & are under the control of the processor at all times

    • Most common:

      • USB Flash Drive

      • External hard drives

      • CD/DVD

    Binary system
    Binary System

    • BrainPop - Binary


    Computer memory
    Computer Memory

    Memory is measured in bytes

    You should now understand computers
    You should NOWunderstand computers