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Computer - How Stuff Works


Computer - How Stuff Works

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									            Computer - How Stuff Works

The word computer refers to an object that can accept some input
and produce some output. In fact, the human brain itself is a
sophisticated computer, and scientists are learning more about how it
works with each passing year. Our most common use of the word
computer, though, is to describe an electronic device containing a
A microprocessor is a small electronic device that can carry out
complex calculations in the blink of an eye. You can find
microprocessors in many devices you use each day, such as cars,
refrigerators and televisions. The most recognized device with a
microprocessor is the personal computer, or PC. In fact, the concept
of a computer has become nearly synonymous with the term PC.
When you hear PC, you probably envision an enclosed device with an
attached video screen, keyboard and some type of a pointing device,
like a mouse or touchpad. You might also envision different forms of
PCs, such as desktop computers, towers and laptops. The term PC
has been associated with certain brands, such as Intel processors or
Microsoft operating systems. In this article, though, we define a PC as
a more general computing device with these characteristics:
•    designed for use by one person at a time
•     runs an operating system to interface between the user and the
•     has certain common internal components described in this
article, like a CPU and RAM
•     runs software applications designed for specific work or play
•     allows for adding and removing hardware or software as needed
PCs trace their history back to the 1970s when a man named Ed
Roberts began to sell computer kits based on a microprocessor chip
designed by Intel. Roberts called his computer the Altair 8800 and
sold the unassembled kits for $395. Popular Electronics ran a story
about the kit in its January 1975 issue, and to the surprise of just
about everyone, the kits became an instant hit. Thus, the era of the
personal computer began [sources: Cerruzi, Lasar.]
While the Altair 8800 was the first real personal computer, it was the
release of the Apple II a couple of years later that signaled the start of
the PC as a sought-after home appliance. The Apple II, from inventors
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, proved that there was a demand for
computers in homes and schools. Soon after, long-established
computer companies like IBM and Texas Instruments jumped into the
PC market, and new brands like Commodore and Atari jumped into
the game.
In this article, we'll look inside the PC to find out about its parts and
what they do. We'll also check out the basic software used to boot and
run a PC. Then, we'll cover mobile PCs and examine the future for PC

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