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Computer Basics. Introduction to Computer. Computer Types. Operating Systems. By Gustavo Alatta. Introduction to Computers.

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Computer basics

Computer Basics

Introduction to Computer.

Computer Types.

Operating Systems.

By Gustavo Alatta

Introduction to computers
Introduction to Computers

  • We are living in an information age dependent upon digital information. Digital information is electronic information, the result of computer processing. Every type of job relies upon getting information, using it, managing it, and relaying information to others. Computers enable the efficient processing and storage of information.

  • Do not think of a computer merely as the machine with the keyboard and the mouse, although that might be true for some types of computers. Embedded computers may be inside your household appliances, the VCR, the automobile, planes, trains, powerplants, water purification plants, calculators, and even inside a few toys. These embedded computers are very small. They affect our lives each day. Why, even modern traffic lights operate with computers. They are all around us. Think of additional ways in which computers affect our lives each day.

Computer types
Computer Types

  • Computers are showing up everywhere you look, and even in places you can't see. Computers check out your groceries, pump your gas, dispense money at the ATM, turn the heat on and off, control the way your car runs. They're everywhere! They're everywhere!

What is a computer
What is a Computer

A computer is an electronic device that executes the instructions in a program. A computer has four functions:

  • a. accepts data Input

  • b. processes data Processing

  • c. produces output Output

  • d. stores results Storage

    In the lessons that follow we will study the parts of the computer and each of the four parts of the Information Processing Cycle.

Some beginning terms
Some Beginning Terms

  • Hardware  : The physical parts of the computer.

  • Software  : The programs (instructions) that tell the computer what to do

  • Data  : individual facts like first name, price, quantity ordered

  • Information : data which has been massaged into a useful form, like a complete mailing address

  • Default  : The original settings; what will happen if you don't change anything.

What makes a computer powerful
What makes a computer powerful?

  • Speed A computer can do billions of

    actions per second.

  • ReliabilityFailures are usually due to

    human error, one way or another.

    (Blush for us all!)

  • Storage A computer can keep huge

    amounts of data.

Computer types1

Hand-held (HPC)


Tablet PC


Computer Types

Personal or Microcomputers

Computers for personal use come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny PDAs (personal digital assistant) to hefty PC (personal computer) towers. More specialized models are announced each week - trip planners, expense account pads, language translators...




Computer types cont
Computer Types (cont…)

Personal or Microcomputers

  • When talking about PC computers, most people probably think of the desktop type, which are designed to sit on your desk. (Bet you figured that one out!) The tower and the smaller mini-tower style cases have become popular as people started needing more room for extra drives inside. Repairmen certainly appreciate the roominess inside for all the cables and circuit boards ... and their knuckles.

  • A workstation is part of a computer network and generally would be expected to have more than a regular desktop PC of most everything, like memory, storage space, and speed.

Computer types cont1
Computer Types (cont…)

Personal or Microcomputers

  • The market for the smallest PCs is expanding rapidly. Software is becoming available for the small types of PC like the palmtop (PPC) and handheld (HPC). This new software is based on new operating systems like Windows CE (for Consumer Electronics). You may find simplified versions of the major applications you use. One big advantage for the newer programs is the ability to link the small computers to your home or work computer and coordinate the data. So you can carry a tiny computer like a PalmPilot around to enter new phone numbers and appointments and those great ideas you just had. Then later you can move this information to your main computer.

  • With a Tablet PC you use an electronic stylus to write on the screen, just like with a pen and paper, only your words are in digital ink. The Tablet PC saves your work just like you wrote it (as a picture), or you can let the Hand Recognition (HR) software turn your chicken-scratches into regular text.

Computer types cont2
Computer Types (cont…)

Main frame

Themain frame is the workhorse of the business world. A main frame is the heart of a network of computers or terminals which allows hundreds of people to work at the same time on the same data. It requires a special environment - cold and dry

Computer types cont3
Computer Types (cont…)


The supercomputer is the top of the heap in power and expense. These are used for jobs that take massive amounts of calculating, like weather forecasting, engineering design and testing, serious decryption, economic forecasting, etc.

The first Cray supercomputer was introduced in 1976

Computer types cont4
Computer Types (cont…)

Distributed or Grid Computing

The power needed for some calculations is more than even a single supercomputer can manage. In distributed computing using a PC grid many computers of all sizes can work on parts of the problem and their results are pooled. A number of current projects rely on volunteers with computers connected to the Internet. The computers do the work when they are not busy otherwise. 

The projects that need distributed computing are highlytechnical. For example, the SETI@Home project looks for signs of intelligent communication in radio signals coming from space. (SETI stands for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.) 

If you volunteer your computer for this project, you might be asked to load a small screen-saver program onto your own computer. When the computer is not busy, the screen saver comes on. The program downloads some signal data, starts to analyze it, and later reports the results back to SETI@Home.  Once the program is installed, you do not have to do anything else but watch the progress in the screen saver. 

Another method does not use a screen saver, but uses any idle time on your computer to work on the project. Results are sent to the project's home over the Internet.

Other important terms
Other Important Terms


The term server actually refers to a computer's function rather than to a specific kind of computer. A server runs a network of computers. It handles the sharing of equipment like printers and the communication between computers on the network. For such tasks a computer would need to be somewhat more capable than a desktop computer. It would need:

  • more power

  • larger memory

  • larger storage capacity

  • high speed communications

Other important terms1
Other Important Terms


The minicomputer has become less important since the PC has gotten so powerful on its own. In fact, the ordinary new PC is much more powerful than minicomputers used to be. Originally this size was developed to handle specific tasks, like engineering and CAD calculations, that tended to tie up the main frame.

Other important terms2
Other Important Terms

Microcontrollers or Embedded Computers

  • The smallest class of computers.

  • Are the type of computer processors found in small

    • machines and appliances, such as microwave ovens.

Operating systems
Operating Systems

  • A computer operating system acts like a manager or supervisor of a PC. The operating system, or OS for short, manages your computer’s resources such as your PC’s memory.

  • Computer operating systems are generally classified as being either a GUI, i.e. graphical user interface, type or a command driven type.

  • Popular operating systems which are GUI types include: Windows  2000 Me, Windows  NT and OS / 2. Popular operating systems, which are command driven types include: DOS, which stands for Disk Operating System, and UNIX.

  • The GUI operating systems work using a “ point and click ” environment since users are able to use pointing devices such as a mouse to select icons which are used to open programs or files.

Operating systems1
Operating Systems

  • The command driven operating systems work using commands, which the user must be familiar with, in order to run some program or perform some other task. For example, passwd is a common UNIX command, which allows the user to change a login password.

  • Operating systems software should be distinguished from applications software. Applications software cannot run without operating system software.

  • Applications software includes word processors, spreadsheets, Web browsers, encyclopedia software, almanacs, entertainment software and others.

Operating systems2
Operating Systems

Popular Computer Operating Systems

  • Windows Server 2003 Me

  • Windows XP

  • Windows 2000

  • Windows 98

  • Windows NT

  • OS / 2

  • MAC OS

  • DOS

  • UNIX


  • NetWare