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

Saturday, 11 February 2012


While computers trace their lineage back several hundred years, most of the advances that led to modern computers have taken place since the late 1940s.
Most people think of computers as large cabinets with spinning tapes and blinking lights, which are locked behind security doors. This describes mainframe units—the large machines that process high volumes of information for businesses and governments. Since the invention of the microchip (very small transistors), a new generation of computers has become available. Known as personal or microcomputers, these machines have taken the same computing power that once required an entire room, and placed it in units that can sit on top of a desk or in a person’s lap.
Whether large mainframe units or the small micros, all computers operate in basically the same fashion. Computers are composed of the following functional sections:
Central processing unit

Input consists of the data to be processed, and the software program that provides the instructions and commands necessary for the computer to perform a specific job. These programs may be written by the computer’s operator, using a programming language that translates human instructions into a machine language the computer understands. Software programs that perform just about any task imaginable can also be purchased off the shelf.
The CPU is where the computer performs its arithmetic and logic functions, and where the operation of all the hardware is controlled.
Memory is where information (data) and instructions are stored. These are transferred between memory and the CPU by means of electrical conduits called registers.
There are two kinds of memory:
1. ROM
2. RAM
Read Only Memory can be read only by the computer itself. The computer operator has no control over it. It is the computer’s own software program, imprinted at the factory, to tell the computer how to work its own system.
Random Access Memory is under the operator’s control and is used to store information and instructions. The amount of RAM available (i.e., 64K, 256K, 640K), signifies the amount of filing-. cabinet space the computer has built into it, in which data can be filed, retrieved, and manipulated on a random basis. When the computer finishes processing the information it has been given, it returns it in the form of output. Output is made available through a printer, the video display unit, or by communicating it to another computer system. How does it all come together? The process starts by identifying a job that the computer can perform. A program is then chosen or created that will accomplish the tasks desired. The program will be written in a language the computer can understand, and that it converts to binary codes to actually carry out its assignment. All of this is governed by an operating system that tells the computer how to best perform the job, manages the filing system for storing the information, and operates the hardware needed to produce the work.

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