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          What is a Computer?
• Modern computers
  are electronic and
  digital devices that:

   – Respond to a specific
     set of instructions or a
   – Execute the
     prerecorded list of
           A Computer System
• A computer system includes
  hardware, software, data, and
  people. The actual machine,
  wires, transistors, and circuits are
  called hardware. Other devices
  such as printers, monitors, and
  scanners are also hardware. The
  instructions, or programs, for
  controlling the computer are called
  software. Data is text, numbers,
  sound, images or video. The
  computer receives data through an
  input device, processes the data,
  stores the data on a storage
  device, and produces output or
  information. The users, the
  people who use the computers,
  are also part of the system.
     What Makes a Computer So
• Computers are not intelligent. They will do
  only what we ask them to do.
• Speed – A computer can perform billions of
  calculations per second.
• Reliability – The electronic components are
• Accuracy – If data is entered correctly,
  computers generate error-free results.
• Storage – Computers can store and retrieve
  unlimited amounts of data and information.
• Communications – Computers can
  communicate and share resources with
  other computers.
                 Categories of Computers
• Computers today come in all shapes and sizes, with specific types
  being especially suited for specific tasks. Computers are considered
  special purpose or general purpose.
• Special-purpose computers are used mostly to control something
  else. Tiny chips are embedded in devices such as dishwashers,
  bathroom scales, or an airport radar system; and these chips control
  these particular devices.
• General-purpose computers are divided into five categories, based
  on their physical size, function, cost, and performance.
• Desktop and notebook computers are today’s most widely used
  personal computers. A desktop computer is designed so that all
  components fit on or under a desk. A notebook computer is a
  lightweight PC that can fit easily into the palm of your hand and is
  used primarily for functions such as phonebooks and calendars.
• The midrange server is used by small to medium size companies
  and generally supports hundreds of users.
• The modern mainframe computer is a large, expensive computer,
  capable of supporting hundreds or even thousands of users.
• A supercomputer is the fastest type of computer and is used for
  specialized applications requiring immense amounts of
  mathematical calculations.
 Computer System Components
• Just about all computers, regardless of size, take raw data and
  change it into information you can use. The process involves input,
  process, output, and storage (IPOS). For example:
• You input data with some type of input device.
• The computer processes it to turn it into information
• You output the information to some type of output device.
• You store it for later retrieval.
• Input, output, and processing devices grouped together represents a
  computer system.
• Input devices: keyboard, hard disk drive, floppy disk drive, scanner,
  modem, mouse, joystick, trackball, graphics tablet, touch display
  screen, voice recognition devices, video input, and digital camera.
• Output devices: monitor, printer, hard disk drive, floppy disk drive.
• Storage devices: hard drive, CDs, magnetic tape cartridge, WORM
  disks, Zip and Jaz diskettes, floppy diskettes, super floppies, photo
  CDs, and DVDs.
         System Components
• The PC system case is the metal and plastic case that
  houses the main system components of the computer.
• The motherboard or system board mounts into the case .
  It is a circuit board that contains many integral
  components. A circuit board is simply a thin plate or
  board that contains electronic components:
• The central processing unit (CPU)
• Memory
• Basic controllers
• Expansion ports and expansion slots
    The Central Processing Unit
• The CPU is also called the microprocessor, or central
  processor and is the brain of the computer. The CPU is
  housed on a tiny silicon chip. This chip contains millions
  of switches and Student Support Services that help your
  computer make important decisions. The switches
  control the flow of the electricity as it travels across the
  miles of Student Support Services. The CPU knows
  which switches to run on and which to turn off because it
  receives its instructions for computer programs.
  Programs are a set of special instructions written by
  programmers that control the activities of the computer.
  Programs are known as software.
• Memory is also found on the motherboard. The easiest
  way to understand memory is to think of it as “short term”
  or “long term.” When you want to store a file or
  information permanently, you use secondary storage
  devices such as the computer’s hard disk drive or a
  floppy disk. You might think of this as long term.
• Random Access Memory (RAM) – You can think about
  the memory of the motherboard as short term.
• Read Only Memory (ROM) – ROM chips are found
  throughout a computer system. The computer
  manufacturer uses this type of chip to store specific
  instructions that are needed for the computer operations.
  These instructions remain on the chip regardless if the
  power is turned on or off. The most common of these is
  the BIOS ROM. The computer uses instructions
  contained on this chip to boot or start the system when
  you turn on your computer. A computer can read from a
  ROM chip, but cannot write or store data on the chip.
                        Input Devices
• Input devices enable you to input data and commands into the
  computer and output devices enable the computer to give you
  the results of processing data. Some devices perform both
  input and output functions. The modem is an example. It is
  an input device when the sender inputs an e-mail message to
  be sent to a receiver. The modem is an output device when it
  sends the message.
• The Keyboard: the most common input device for entering
  numeric and alphabetic data.
• The Mouse: a pointing device that rolls around on a flat
  surface and controls the pointer on the screen. The pointer is
  an on-screen arrow-shaped object used to select text and
  access menus.
• The Joystick – also a pointing device, used mostly for games.
• The Trackball – a pointing device that works like a mouse
  turned upside down; the ball is on the top of the device. You
  use your thumb and fingers to operate the ball, thus
  controlling the arrow on the screen. Often found on the
  keyboards of laptop and notebook computers.
• Graphics Tablet – a flat drawing surface on which the user can
  draw figures or write something freehand. The tablet is
  connected to the computer. Once the drawing has been
  inputted to the computer, it can be manipulated like a regular
• Touch Display Screen – a special screen with pictures or
  shapes. You use your fingers to “point” to the desired object to
  make a selection. These screens can be found in many public
  establishments such as banks, libraries, delivery services, and
  fast-food restaurants. These are very user friendly input
• Voice Recognition Devices – used to “speak” commands into
  the computer and to enter text. These devices are usually
  microphones. The computer must have some type of voice
  recognition software installed before a voice recognition device
  can be used.
• Scanners – change images into codes for input into the
  computer. There are various sizes and types of scanners:
   – Image scanners convert images into electronic form that can be stored in
     a computer’s memory. The image can then be manipulated.
– Bar Code Scanners – read bar lines that ore printed
  on products (for example, in a grocery store or
  department store).
– Magnetic Scanners – read encoded information on
  the back of credit cards. The magnetic strip on the
  back of the cards contains the encoded user’s
  account number.
Video Input – allows images generated with
  camcorders and VCRs to be transferred to the
  computer. Once input into the computer, the
  images can be viewed on the screen and edited.
Digital Cameras – the pictures taken with a digital
  camera are stored in the camera’s memory and can
  be transferred to the computer’s memory. These
  pictures can be viewed quickly and any
  imperfections can be edited.
                        Output Devices
• Output devices display information.
• Monitors – also called video display screens because images
  are displayed on the screen. They can be either
  monochromatic or color. A monochromatic monitor screen has
  a one-color display (white, amber, or green).
• Printers – used to produce a paper or hard copy of the
  processing results. There are several types of printers with
  tremendous differences in speed, print quality, price and special
   – Laser printers – produce images using the same technology as copier
     machines. The image is made with a powder substance called toner. A
     laser printer produces high-quality output.
   – Ink Jet printers – allow less expensive color printing. The color is
     sprayed onto the paper. The same process used in laser printers is used
     in the inkjet printers; it just works more slowly.
   – Dot Matrix printers – have been around for a long time. They print by
     transferring ink to the paper by striking a ribbon with pins. The higher the
     number of pins (DPI) the better the output.
                            Storage Devices
• As data is entered into the computer and processed, it is stored in RAM. If
  you want to keep a permanent copy of the data, you must store it on some
  type of storage medium such as the following:
    – Floppy diskettes – usually just called diskettes, are flat circles of iron-oxide
      coated plastic enclosed in a hard plastic case. They can hold 1.44 MB or more of
    – Hard disk drives – used to store data inside of the computer. They provide two
      advantages: speed and capacity. Accessing data is faster.
    – CD-R – make it possible for you to create your own CD-ROM disks that can
      actually be read by any CD-ROM drive.
    – Magnetic tape cartridges – used for making backup copies of large volumes of
      data. This is a very slow process and therefore is not used for regularly saving
    – WORM disks – optical disk storage devices that use laser beams and optical
      technology. Used for permanently storing large volumes of data.
    – Zip and Jaz diskettes – house disks that are capable of holding tremendous
      amounts of storage.
    – Photo CD – used to store digitized photographic images on a CD. The photos
      stored on these disks can be uploaded into the computer and used in other
    – DVD media – full length movies can be stored on the DVD. It is the size of a
      regular CD and can be played in a regular CD player. You can also play them in
      your DVD player.
         Communication Hardware
• Communications hardware devices facilitate the transmitting
  and receiving of data. The first thing we think of when we think
  of communications hardware is the modem.
• The word MODEM is an acronym for modulate-demodulate,
  which means to convert analog signals to digital and vice versa.
  This device enables a computer to transmit data over telephone
  lines. Computer information is stored digitally, whereas
  information sent over telephone lines is transmitted in the form
  of analog waves. Both the sending and receiving must have a
• Cable modem – uses coaxial cable to send and receive data.
  This is the same type of cable used for cable TV. The
  bandwidth, which determines the amount of data that can be
  sent at one time is much greater with a cable modem. A cable
  modem can be connected directly to your computer or
  connected to a set top box used with your television.
• In this workshop you learned:
• A computer is an electronic device that receives data,
  processes data, produces information, and stores the data and
• A computer derives its power from its speed, reliability,
  accuracy, storage, and communications capability.
• Categories of computers include personal computers (desktop
  and notebook), palmtops or handhelds, etc.
• Just about all computers perform the same general operations:
  input, process, output, and storage.
• Input, output, and processing devices grouped together
  represent a computer system.
• The motherboard is the center of all processing.
• The motherboard contains the CPU, memory, and basic
  controllers for the system.
• The central processing unit is the brains of the computer.
• Random access memory is volatile and is used to
  store instructions, data, and information temporarily.
• Read-only memory is nonvolatile and is used to store
  permanent instructions needed for computer
• Input devices enable you to input data and commands
  into the computer.
• The most common input devices are the keyboard and
  the mouse.
• The mouse is a pointing device used to input data.
• Printers are used to produce a paper or hard copy of
  the processed results.
• To maintain a permanent copy of data, you must store
  it on some type of storage medium. These may
  include floppy diskettes, hard drives, CDs, magnetic
  tape cartridges, and WORM disks.
• A modem is a type of communication device.
                      Test Your Knowledge

•       1. ___________is text, numbers, sound, images, or video.
    –      A.   Software
    –      B.   Information
    –      C.   Hardware
    –      D.   Data

    2.     A(n) ____________ is designed so all components fit on or under a desk.
          A.    Desktop computer
          B.    Midrange server
          C.    Mainframe computer
          D.    Supercomputer
•     3. A(n) ______ is an electronic and digital device.
    –    A. client
         B. node
         C. server
         D. computer
    4. The _________contains the CPU, memory, and basic controllers.
         A. memory
         B. motherboard
         C. processor
         D. expansion slot
    5. The ________ is considered the brains of the computer.
         A. program
         B. ALU
         C. CPU
         D. control unit
    6. A printer would be considered a(n) ____________
         A. controller
         B. output device
         C. input device
         D. USB
•       7. Laser, ink jet, and dot matrix are types of ___________.
    –      A.   monitors
    –      B.   printers
    –      C.   storage devices
    –      D.   input devices

    8.     Monitors and printers are types of ______________.
           A. input devices
           B. output devices
           C. storage devices
           D. ports
    9.     Floppy diskettes are also called ______________.
           A. diskettes
           B. hard drives
           C. CDs
           D. magnetic disks
• True/False

• 1. The instructions for controlling the computer are called hardware.
• 2. Information is processed data.
• 3. A notebook computer is a lightweight computer that can fit into a
• 4. Input and output devices perform the same functions.
• 5. The mouse is a pointing device that rolls around on a flat surface and
  controls the pointer.

• Fill in the Blank

• 1. A(n) ________is used to enter data into the computer.
• 2. ____________ and _____________ are the most popular input devices.
• 3. Hard disks and floppy diskettes are types of ________ mediums.

• Thank you for your participation
  in this workshop. We hope you
  found it helpful. Do not forget to
  complete an Academic
  Enrichment Summary. If you are
  viewing this workshop via the
  internet please come by the
  Student Support Services office
  to complete an Academic
  Enrichment Summary or you
  may click on the link in the
  instruction box on the
  Workshops page and print one
  out or e-mail it to so that we
  may document your participation.
  Handouts available upon

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