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Chapter # 01 Introduction to computing

Computer definition A computer is an electronic machine that 1) accepts data and instructions (input) 2) processes it (processing) 3) and gives out the result (output)

Parts of a computer:
A computer system basically consists of the following parts: Hardware Software Procedure Data People Hardware Computer hardware refers to the physical parts of a computer, that is the parts that you can touch. There are two types of hardware Internal hardware devices (components) are the devices inside the system unit, including motherboards, hard drives, and RAM. External hardware devices (peripherals) are the devices that can be seen outside, including monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, and scanners. Software Software is the Intangible components of a computer system, It consists of carefully-organized instructions and code, that programmers write in a language the hardware can understand and act upon. Procedure

Procedure is basically the instructions provided to use the hardware, software and data. Data Data is a collection of raw facts and figures. People People are the users who operate the computer, also known as end users.

Operations of a computer
The four basic operations of a computer are: Input Processing Output Storage Input Process of accepting data and information through Input devices such as the keyboard is called Input. Processing It is the transformation process to convert input into output. The CPU or central processing unit is sometimes called the Control Unit and directs the operation of the input and output devices. The Coprocessor or the Arithmetic-Logic Unit does arithmetic and comparisons. The memory or RAM temporarily stores information (files and programs) while you are using or working on them. The BIOS or basic input/output system controls the dialogue between the various devices Output It is the result or the outcome of the process. Output devices display information on the screen (monitor). Storage All computers require storage space and memory to run programs and store files. There are different types of memory and storage, and each has its own purpose such as hard disk drives, RAM

Characteristics of a computer

Speed The computer is a very high speed electronic device. The operations on the data inside the computer are performed through electronic circuits. The data and instructions flow along these circuits with high speed that is close to the speed of light. Computer can perform billions of operations in one second therefore the speed of computer is usually measured in mega hertz (MHz) or giga hertz (GHz). Accracy & Precission A Computer gives out accurate results and never makes a mistake, if there is an error it is because of the user's or the programmer's mistake, otherwise a computer itself can never make a mistake. Besides being accurate, it can keep the precision upto the level you desire and is always accurate in that as well like in manual calculations and rounding fractional values. Diligence A computer can continuously work for hours without creating any error or getting tired. If there are surplus amount of executions to be made then each and every execution will be executed at the same time period. Versatility Versatile means flexible. Modern computer are multi-tasking. For example, you are composing and sending emails, at the same time you can listen to songs in the background as well. Memory The data and program stored on the storage media can be retrieved very quickly for further processing. Secondary storage devices are the key for the data storage. Needs a User interface The only draw back of computer is it cannot make the decision of its own. It has no feelings. It detects objects on the basis of instructions given to it. Based on our feelings, taste, knowledge and experience, we can make certain decisions and judgments in our daily life. On the other hand, computers can not make such judgments on their own. After all a computer is a machine.

Classification of computers

Classification of computers




General purpose computers

Special purpose computers

Analog computer

Digital computers

Hybrid computers

Microcontrolle rs

Super computers

Mainframe computers

Mini computers

Micro computers




Sub notebooks

Pocket PCs

According to purpose computers are classified into:

General purpose General Purpose Computers are machines capable of carrying out some general data processing under program control. For example a typical personal computer Special purpose Special computers are computers designed to operate on a restricted class of problems. Examples: ATM, sega, computers at petrol pumps

According to type computers are classified into:

Analog Analog computers use continuous physical measurements such as electrical voltages for calculations. They store information in continuous signals. They are fast but not accurate. Examples: weighing machine, thermometer, etc


Digital computers calculate by manipulating binary digits (bits; ones and zeroes). They represent information in discrete, on-off signals. These are accurate but slow. Examples: calculators, digital diary, etc. Hybrid Hybrid computers are a mixture of digital and analog computers. They work by continuous as well as discrete signals. These are fast and accurate. Examples: gas pumps, ICU machines, etc.

According to size computers are classified into:

Micro controllers A microcontroller is a small computer on a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory, and programmable input/output peripherals. Microcontrollers are designed for embedded applications. These are also known ad embedded computers and dedicated computers. These are found in automobiles, mobile SIMs, elevators, ATM cards, microwave ovens and home appliances. Super computers Supercomputers are the fastest, most powerful and most expensive computers. They are used for specialized applications that require immense amount of mathematical calculations like in military, defence agencies, weather forecasting and space agencies. Example Cray-1 Mainframe/macro computers A mainframe computer is a large computer occupying a specially air conditioned room and supporting typically 100-500 users at a time. These are found in banks, airlines and insurance companies which handle millions of transactions yearly. They are often used as servers. Example IBM 370 The chief difference between a supercomputer and a mainframe is that a supercomputer channels all its power into executing a few programs as fast as possible, whereas a mainframe uses its power to execute many programs simultaneously. Mini/mid range computers

A minicomputer is a computer intermediate in size between a mainframe computer and a micro computer. They are capable of supporting 4 to 200 users simultaneously. They are usually found in medium scale businesses. These are also used as servers. Example Digital Equipment Corporation VAX (DEC VAX), IBM AS/400 Micro computers A microcomputer is a computer with a microprocessor as its central processing unit. They are physically small compared to mainframe and minicomputers. Microcomputers are designed to be used by individuals. They are found in the home, in small businesses and in schools. Example Personal computers (PCs)

Microcomputers are further divided into laptops and desktops:

Laptop A laptop computer is a small, light weight computer (under 8 pounds) with a flip-up screen that can be powered by batteries and is easily portable. These are specially valuable for people who travel frequently and have to work on a computer while on road. Desktop A computer designed to fit comfortably on top of a desk, typically with the monitor sitting on top of the computer. Desktop model computers are broad and low, whereas tower model computers are narrow and tall.

Laptops are further classified into notebooks, subnotebooks, and handheld devices:
Note book An extremely lightweight personal computer, notebook computers typically weigh less than six pounds and are small enough to fit easily in a briefcase. Notebook computers use a variety of techniques, known as flat-panel technologies, to produce a lightweight and non-bulky display screen. Technically there is a difference between the laptops and notebooks and that is the size and weight of the device (which in turn impacts the system's features). Sub notebook

A portable computer that is slightly lighter and smaller than a full-sized notebook computer. Typically, subnotebook computers have a smaller keyboard and screen, but are otherwise equivalent to notebook computers. Pocket PCs (PPCs)/handheld PCs A common name for Windows Mobile PDA (personal digital assistant) devices, pocket PCs usually offer smaller versions of Microsoft applications such as Word and Outlook. Synchronization is done between the device and a Windows-based computer system. Handheld devices are useful for scheduling appointments, storing addresses and phone numbers, and playing games. Digital diaries and IPads may be included in PPCs.