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Computers for Today Jason Fan Essential Computer Concepts What is a Computer? A computer is a device that: Accepts input Processes data Stores data Produces output What is a Computer? A Computer System is made up of: Hardware—the physical components

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what is a computer
What is a Computer?

A computer is a device that:

  • Accepts input
  • Processes data
  • Stores data
  • Produces output
what is a computer4
What is a Computer?

A Computer System is made up of:

  • Hardware—the physical components
  • Software—the programs or lists of instructions
  • Peripherals—the additional components
what is a computer5
What is a Computer?

Architecture or configuration is the design of the computer.

As in, what does the computer consist of?

Specification is the technical detail about each component.

As in, how big is the monitor?

how a computer works
How a Computer Works

The hardware, software, and you work together to complete tasks.

how a computer works7
How a Computer Works

The data you type into the computer is called input.

The result of the computer processing your input is called output.

types of computers
Types of Computers

The categories of computers are:

  • Personal or microcomputers
    • Desktop
    • Notebook, Laptop, Table PC
  • Hand-help or PDAs
  • Mainframes
  • Supercomputers
types of computers9
Types of Computers

Personal computers are used for general computing tasks and fit the needs of most users

types of computers10
Types of Computers

Hand-held computers fit in the palm of your hand and run on batteries.

types of computers11
Types of Computers

Mainframes are used by companies to provide centralized storage, processing, and management for large amounts of data.

types of computers12
Types of Computers

Supercomputers are the largest and fastest of computers, and can process an enormous volume of data.

computer hardware
Computer Hardware

Computer hardware includes:

  • Input devices
  • Output devices
  • Processing hardware
  • Storage devices and media
computer hardware14
Computer Hardware

Some input devices are:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Wireless pointer
  • Touch pad
  • Track point

Cordless mouse

computer hardware15
Computer Hardware

Output devices are:

Monitors and Printers are common output devices.

CRT monitors and LCD (or flat panel display) monitors are two types of monitors.

computer hardware16
Computer Hardware

Factors that influence a monitor’s quality are:

  • Screen Size
  • Resolution
  • Dot Pitch
types of printers include
Types of Printers include:
  • Laser
  • Ink-jet
  • Dot Matrix
computer hardware18
Computer Hardware
  • Multimedia devices are peripheral devices that include text, graphics, sound, animation, and video.
  • Speakers and sound cards are common multimedia output devices
computer hardware19
Computer Hardware
  • The most important computer function is data processing.
  • Processing hardware is used to process data.
processing hardware
Processing Hardware
  • Computers interpret every signal as “on” or “off.”
  • 1 (“on”) and 0 (“off”) are referred to as bits.
  • Eight bits is a byte. Each byte represents a unique character.
data representation
Data Representation

Storage and memory capacity is the amount of data the storage device can handle.

  • Kilobyte (KB) is about one thousand bytes
  • Megabyte (MB) is about one million bytes
  • Gigabyte (GB) is about one billion bytes
processing hardware22
Processing Hardware
  • The two most important components of personal computers hardware are the microprocessor and memory.
  • These two factors directly affect the computer’s price and performance.
the microprocessor
The Microprocessor
  • The microprocessor is a silicon chip designed to manipulate data.
  • Its speed is determined by:
    • Clock speed
    • Word size
    • Cache size

Computer memory is a set of storage locations on the motherboard.

There are four types of memory:

  • Random access memory (RAM)
  • Virtual memory
  • Read-only memory
  • Complementary metal oxide semiconductor memory (CMOS)

RAM is temporary memory that is constantly changing while the computer is on.

Virtual memory is extra memory that simulates RAM if more is needed.


Read-only memory (ROM) is the permanent storage location for a set of instructions the computer uses.

CMOS memory is semi-permanent information about where essential software is stored.


A storage device receives data from RAM and writes it on a storage medium. Later, it can be read and sent back to RAM.

storage devices
Storage Devices

Data is stored as files.

Executable files tell computers how to perform specific tasks.

Data files are created by the user, usually with software.

storage devices29
Storage Devices

Files are kept on storage devices.

There are:

Magnetic storage devices and

Optical storage devices.

storage devices30
Storage Devices

Some common magnetic storage devices are:

  • Floppy disks
  • Hard disk drives
  • Tape drives
  • Zip drives

A floppy disk

storage devices31
Storage Devices

Some common optical storage devices are:

  • CD-ROM drives
  • DVD drives
  • CD-R drives
  • CD-RW drives
storage devices32
Storage Devices

CD-ROMs are for “read-only” access.

CD-Rdrives allow you to record data on a CD-R disk.

CD-RW drives allow you to write data on a CD-RW disk and access and modify data.

data communications
Data Communications

Data Communications is the transmission of text, numeric, voice, or video data from one computer to another.

data communications34
Data Communications

The four essential components of data communications are:

  • Sender
  • Channel
  • Receiver
  • Protocols
data communications35
Data Communications

A sender is the computer that originates the message.

The message is sent over a channel, such as a telephone.

data communications36
Data Communications

The receiver is the computer at the message’s destination.

Protocols are the rules that establish the transfer of data between sender and receiver.

data bus
Data Bus

The data bus is the communication between microprocessor, RAM, and the peripherals.

data bus38
Data Bus

An external peripheral device has a port or cable that connects it to the computer.

Each port connects to a controller card, which plugs into expansion slots.

The transmission protocol is handled by a device driver.

data bus39
Data Bus

Microcomputers have several types of ports:

  • Parallel
  • Serial
  • Small computer system interface (SCSI)
  • Musical instrument digital interface (MIDI)
  • Universal serial bus (USB)
data bus40
Data Bus

A parallel port transmits data eight bits at a time, and is often used to connect a nearby printer.

data bus41
Data Bus

A serial port transmits data one bit at a time, and often connects a mouse, keyboard, or modem.

data bus42
Data Bus

A SCSI (“scuzzy”)connection can allow many devices to use the same port, and are popular on Macs and notebooks.

MIDI cards are used to record and play back musical data.

data bus43
Data Bus

Computer expansion ports

data bus44
Data Bus

USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports replace numerous connectors with one plug and port combination. The device you install must have a USB connector.


A network connects one computer to other computers and peripherals.

In a local area network (LAN), computers and peripherals are close to each other.


A client/server network is a network with a file server. A file server acts as the central storage location.

A network without a file server is a peer-to-peer network. All of the computers are equal.


Each computer that is part of the network must have a network interface card and network software.

Then it becomes a workstation.

Any device connected to the network is called a node.


Telecommunications is communicating over a telephone. In the telecommunications process, the modem converts digital signals to analog signals at the sending site and a second modem converts them back at the receiving site.

the internet
The Internet

The Internet is the world’s largest network.

E-mail and the World Wide Web are two benefits of the Internet.

the internet52
The Internet

A hyperlink is a place on a Web page allowing you to connect to a particular file.

the internet53
The Internet

A Web browser is

the communications software that allows you to navigate the WWW.

computer software
Computer Software

Software is the instructions and data that direct the computer to accomplish the task. It can refer to a single program or a package.

system software
System Software

System software helps the computer carry out its basic operating tasks.

Application software helps the user carry out a variety of tasks.

system software56
System Software

The four types of system software are:

  • Operating systems
  • Utilities
  • Device drivers
  • Programming languages
system software57
System Software

The operating system controls the I/O or input/output, the flow of data from microprocessor to memory to peripherals.

The operating system makes multitasking possible.

system software58
System Software

Some types of system software include:

  • Virus protection software
  • Utilities
  • Device drivers
  • Computer programming languages
application software
Application Software

Application software enables you to perform specific tasks. Application software includes:

  • Document production software
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Database management software
  • Graphics and presentation software
application software60
Application Software

Document production software includes word processing, desktop publishing, and Web authoring software that assist you in writing and formatting documents.

application software61
Application Software

It often has grammar and spell-checking, thesaurus, search and replace, and template features.

application software62
Application Software

With spreadsheet software, you can create formulas that perform calculations. Spreadsheet software creates worksheets with columns and rows. The intersection of a column and row is a cell.

application software63
Application Software

Database management software creates structured databases to contain information.

Graphics and presentation software allow you to create illustrations, diagrams, and charts to be presented or transmitted. Most allow you to include graphics.

application software64
Application Software

Multimedia authoring software allows you to record digital sound files, video files, and animations that can be included in presentations and other documents.

application software65
Application Software

Object linking and embedding (OLE) is the ability to use data from another file, called the source.

This integration between applications has become an important skill in business.