Essential Introduction to Computers
1. Define the term computer and discuss the four basic computer operations: input, processing, output, and storage
2. Define data and information
3. Explain the principle components of the computer and their use
4. Describe the use and handling of floppy disks and hard disks
5. Discuss computer software and explain the difference between system software and application software
6. Identify several types of personal computer application software
7. Discuss computer communications channels and equipment and the Internet and World Wide Web
8. Explain how to purchase, install, and maintain a personal computer, a notebook ...view middle of the document...
These operations are completed incredibly quickly. Today's supercomputer can perform 1.8 trillion operations per second. If a person did one arithmetic operation a second without stopping, it would take more than 31,000 years to perform the number of operations a supercomputer can do in one second.
2. Data and Information
A major part of understanding computers is to know what goes into them (data), what comes out of them (information), and to understand the process of turning data into information, also known as the information processing cycle.
Understanding the difference between data and information is important. Clifford Stoll - lecturer, computer security expert, and author (The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage and Silicon Snake Oil: Second Thoughts on the Information Superhighway are two of his most popular works) - notes a wide gap between data and information. Information has a pedigree, or lineage. Its source is known, whether a respected professor or a seventh grader. "The Internet has great gobs of data," Stoll maintains, "and little, little information."
Components of the Computer and Their Use
A computer consists of five primary hardware components: input devices, the central processing unit (CPU), memory, output devices, and storage devices. These components work together with software to perform calculations, organize data, and communicate with other computers.
Different types of input devices transmit different types of data or transmit data in different ways. A keyboard is used to transmit alpha/numeric data by typing. In addition to the standard keys in the typing area, an enhanced keyboard contains:
* function keys that can be programmed to perform specific tasks
* status lights that indicate modes that can be turned on and off by toggle keys (e.g., caps lock and num lock)
* a numeric keypad that allows for rapid entry of numbers
* arrow keys and other cursor-control keys (e.g., home, end, page up, and page down) that control the on-screen movement of the insertion point
* special keys such as esc, shift, ctrl, and alt that have varying functions depending on the software
The mouse, like a trackball or joystick, is called a pointing device because it controls the movement of a pointer, or mouse pointer, on the computer screen. The first mouse was a one-button, rectangle shaped device invented by Doug Engelbart in 1964. A mouse is very easy to use. It requires empty desk space, however, and forces the user to remove a hand from the keyboard to give a command.
Different CPUs function at different speeds. The rate at which computer operations take place is measured in megahertz (MHz), or millions of electronic pulses per second. This rate varies among computers and should be a consideration when purchasing a personal computer. Computers have two basic types of memory. RAM (random access memory) is volatile, meaning that its contents are lost when the computer...