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

Sunday, 29 January 2012


There are two types of memory stored within a system:
1. Read Only Memory (ROM)
2. Random Access Memory (RAM)
Read Only Memory is permanently imprinted in your computer when you get it. It is called ROM because it is meant to be read only by the computer itself. The person operating the computer has no control over it. The computer uses this memory to tell itself how to start up when you turn it on. Read Only Memory processes the electrical data flow from the keyboard to the CPU and from the CPU to the video display screen or to any other peripheral equipment you have attached, such as a printer. The decoders that translate numbers and characters into binary information that the computer understands are found in ROM. These programs are called firmware, or nonvolatile, because they are always there, and are not erased or destroyed when the power is turned off.
The other memory a system works with is called, Random Access Memory (RAM). This is what some people also call Read/ Write Memory, and is considered volatile because the information stored here is lost whenever the computer is shut off, or when power is lost. Random Access Memory is controlled by the person working with a system, and is where the instructions and information needed to get a job done are temporarily stored. Personal computer systems are often described by the amount of short- term (RAM) memory available (i.e., 64K, 256K, 640K). Most software programs also list the amount of memory they require to be stored in RAM. Most systems allow the user to increase the amount of memory available by installing additional single memory chips or expansion boards containing multiple chips. Even with these, however, there are finite limits to the amount of memory a personal computer has to work with. This is one reason why it is important to decide what kinds of work you would like to perform on a personal computer and the software most appropriate for accomplishing those tasks, before you purchase the system. This allows a computer to be configured to meet anticipated uses and eliminates the problem that a lot of people encounter of trying to install a software program that requires more memory than their system has available. In these situations the only recourse is to purchase and install more memory. A person using a computer comes in contact with all of its working parts. When a system is first turned on, the operating system takes over and makes sure everything under its control is functioning properly. Information is put into the system, where it is stored in memory according to an address code assigned by the computer, as seen in Figure 14. When the program (or list of instructions) is loaded, data are taken from the memory. Following the program instructions, the

FIGURE 14.  The flow of information processing. Illustration by Gina Bean. Data are then worked on in the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU). When all the instructions have been carried out, the information is returned to memory or to an output device.
Output can be delivered through any of several sources:
.Video Monitor (CRT)
.Voice synthesizer
.Modem for transferring information over telephone lines
.Storage device (diskette, hard disk, etc.)

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