Since computer terminology can often be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to understanding the world of personal computers,I've tried to make things a bit easier by defining new terms at the beginning of the chapter in they first appear

Monday, 30 January 2012


All the activities a computer performs are guided by a program. A program is  simply a set of instructions or commands that tells

 FIGURE 17. A personal computer with a 10 megabyte hard disk can store the equivalent of 3333 pages of text.

FIGURE 18. Three types of computer memory and storage devices. A microchip (64K). Diskette (320K) and hard disk (10 megabytes +). 

The computer how to perform a specific job. You may write your own programs using a programming language, or by purchasing a preprogrammed software package. Such packages will do spreadsheets, word processing, database management, communications, tax preparation, inventory, project management, games, household budgets, and hundreds of other tasks. While a person working with a personal computer might only make a single entry, like entering an amount into a checkbook register, the program that pulls everything together into something meaningful might actually have several steps. From the computer’s point of view, the program of instructions might look something like this:

I - Take the contents of memory location 5.
2. Add this to the contents of memory location 15.
3 Compare this to the contents of memory location 17.
4. If the contents are the same, store the results in memory location 21.
5. If the contents are not the same input a warning to the system monitors.
Programming languages
As noted earlier, computers work only with binary information. This machine language is really nothing more than a series of Os and Is strung together. Machine language, however, is a difficult way for most people to communicate with a computer. To simplify things, a number of high-level programming languages were created. These are much simpler to use and understand because of their similarity to the everyday language of human communications. These programming languages are translated into a code the computer understands, using the firmware installed in it by the manufacturer.
Among the most widely used languages are:
FORTRAN: (Formula Translator). It is used primarily in medical, scientific, and technical applications.
COBOL: (Common Business Oriented Language). It is one of the most popular business and accounting languages.
BASIC: (Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). This is as close to English as current programming languages come. BASIC is supplied with many personal computers, by the manufacturers.
PASCAL: (Named for the Seventeenth-Century French Mathematician Blaise Pascal). This is a popular programming language with many microcomputer users, who consider it easy to learn.
No matter which language a program is written in, the languages generally share four fundamental activities. They:
1. Provide a method for getting something into the computer, and getting it out again
2. Make comparisons
3. Decide what activities need to be performed
4. Repeat tasks until a particular job is completed
With the wide variety of software packages on the market that meet the needs of most users, it is probably not as important to learn a programming language as it once was for the average user.

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