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Basic Computer Understanding

and Skills
Basic Computer Understanding

• What is a computer?
• Different Types
• Different Operating Systems
• Different Brands
• Basic Components
• How to Buy a computer
What is a computer?
Understanding - What is a computer?
Computers are machines that perform tasks or
calculations according to a set of instructions, or
programs. The first fully electronic computers,
introduced in the 1940s, were huge machines
that required teams of people to operate.
Compared to those early machines, today's
computers are amazing. Not only are they
thousands of times faster, they can fit on your
desk, on your lap, or even in your pocket
Understanding – What is a computer?
Computers work through an interaction of hardware
and software. Hardware refers to the parts of a
computer that you can see and touch, including the
case and everything inside it. The most important
piece of hardware is a tiny rectangular chip inside
your computer called the central processing unit
(CPU), or microprocessor. It's the "brain" of your
computer—the part that translates instructions and
performs calculations. Hardware items such as your
monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, and other
components are often called hardware devices, or
Understanding – What is a computer?
• The computer processes input through input
devices like mouse, keyboard, Scanner and
• The computer displays output through output
devices like color monitor/LED/Projectors and
• Computers have become indispensable in today’s
world. Thousand of Billions people use
computers all over the world.
• There are several uses of computers:
Understanding – What is a computer?
• Word Processing - Word Processing software automatically corrects
spelling and grammar mistakes. If the content of a document repeats
you don’t have to type it each time. You can use the copy and paste
features. You can printout documents and make several copies. It is
easier to read a word-processed document than a handwritten one. You
can add images to your document.
• Internet - It is a network of almost all the computers in the world. You
can browse through much more information than you could do in a
library. That is because computers can store enormous amounts of
information. You also have very fast and convenient access to
information. Through E-Mail you can communicate with a person sitting
thousands of miles away in seconds. There is chat software that enables
one to chat with another person on a real-time basis. Video
conferencing tools are becoming readily available to the common man.
• Desktop publishing - With desktop publishing, you can create page
layouts for entire books on your personal computer.
Understanding – What is a computer?
• Digital video or audio composition – Audio or video composition and editing have been
made much easier by computers. It no longer costs thousands of dollars of equipment
to compose music or make a film. Graphics engineers can use computers to generate
short or full-length films or even to create three-dimensional models. Anybody owning
a computer can now enter the field of media production. Special effects in science
fiction and action movies are created using computers.

• Computers in Medicine - You can diagnose diseases. You can learn the cures. Software
is used in magnetic resonance imaging to examine the internal organs of the human
body. Software is used for performing surgery. Computers are used to store patient

• Mathematical Calculations - Thanks to computers, which have computing speeds of

over a million calculations per second we can perform the biggest of mathematical

• Banks - All financial transactions are done by computer software. They provide security,
speed and convenience.
Understanding – What is a computer?
• Travel - One can book air tickets or railway tickets and make hotel reservations

• Telecommunications - Software is widely used here. Also all mobile phones

have software embedded in them.

• Defense - There is software embedded in almost every weapon. Software is

used for controlling the flight and targeting in ballistic missiles. Software is used
to control access to atomic bombs.

• E-Learning – Instead of a book it is easier to learn from an E-learning software.

• Gambling-You can gamble online instead of going to a casino.

• Examinations-You can give online exams and get instant results. You can check
your examination results online.
Understanding – What is a computer?
• Computers in Business - Shops and supermarkets use software, which
calculate the bills. Taxes can be calculated and paid online. Accounting is done
using computers. One can predict future trends of business using artificial
intelligence software. Software is used in major stock markets. One can do
trading online. There are fully automated factories running on software.

• Certificates - Different types of certificates can be generated. It is very easy to

create and change layouts.

• ATM machines - The computer software authenticates the user and dispenses

• Marriage - There are matrimonial sites through which one can search for a
suitable groom or bride.
Understanding – What is a computer?
• News-There are many websites through which you can read the latest or
old news.
• Classmates-There are many alumni websites through which you can regain
contact with your classmates.
• Robotics - Robots are controlled by software.
• Washing Machines - They operate using software.
• Microwave Oven - They are operated by software.
• Planning and Scheduling - Software can be used to store contact
information, generating plans, scheduling appointments and deadlines.
• Greeting Cards - You can send and receive greetings pertaining to different
• Sports – Software is used for making umpiring decisions. There are
simulation software using which a sportsperson can practice his skills.
Computers are also to identify flaws in technique.
• Aero-planes – Pilots train on software, which simulates flying.
• Weather analysis – Supercomputers are used to analyze and predict
Different types of Computers
Understanding - Different Types
• Different types of Computers
Based on the operational principle of computers, they are
categorized as analog computers and hybrid computers.

• Analog Computers: These are almost extinct today. These

are different from a digital computer because an analog
computer can perform several mathematical operations
simultaneously. It uses continuous variables for
mathematical operations and utilizes mechanical or
electrical energy.

• Hybrid Computers: These computers are a combination of

both digital and analog computers. In this type of
computers, the digital segments perform process control
by conversion of analog signals to digital ones.
Understanding - Different Types
Hybrid Computers Examples:
1. Bomb site on a WW2 bomber. Instead of using
ones and zeros, it had a series of continuous
gears into which factors the airplane's speed
and altitude that could be used to factor the
exact time to drop the bombs.
2. The computer used in hospitals to measure the
heartbeat of the patient. Hybrid Machines are
generally used in scientific applications or in
controlling industrial processes
Understanding - Different Types
Following are some of the other important types of computers.

• Mainframe Computers: Large organizations use mainframes

for highly critical applications such as bulk data processing and
ERP. Most of the mainframe computers have the capacities to
host multiple operating systems and operate as a number of
virtual machines and can thus substitute for several small

• Microcomputers: A computer with a microprocessor and its

central processing unit is known as a microcomputer. They do
not occupy space as much as mainframes. When supplemented
with a keyboard and a mouse, microcomputers can be called as
personal computers. A monitor, a keyboard and other similar
input output devices, computer memory in the form of RAM
and a power supply unit come packaged in a microcomputer.
These computers can fit on desks or tables and serve as the
best choices for single-user tasks.
Understanding - Different Types
Personal computers come in a variety of forms such as
desktops, laptops and personal digital assistants. Let us look
at each of these types of computers.

• Desktops: A desktop is intended to be used on a single

location. The spare parts of a desktop computer are readily
available at relative lower costs. Power consumption is not as
critical as that in laptops. Desktops are widely popular for
daily use in workplaces and households.
• Laptops: Similar in operation to desktops, laptop computers
are miniaturized and optimized for mobile use. Laptops run
on a single battery or an external adapter that charges the
computer batteries. They are enabled with an inbuilt
keyboard, touch pad acting as a mouse and a liquid crystal
display. Its portability and capacity to operate on battery
power have served as a boon for mobile users.
Understanding - Different Types
• Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs): It is a handheld computer and
popularly known as a palmtop. It has a touch screen and a memory
card for storage of data. PDAs can also be effectively used as
portable audio players, web browsers and smart phones. Most of
them can access the Internet by means of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi
• Minicomputers: In terms of size and processing capacity,
minicomputers lie in between mainframes and microcomputers.
Minicomputers are also called mid-range systems or workstations.
The term began to be popularly used in the 1960s to refer to
relatively smaller third generation computers. They took up the
space that would be needed for a refrigerator or two and used
transistor and core memory technologies. The 12-bit PDP-8
minicomputer of the Digital Equipment Corporation was the first
successful minicomputer.
Understanding - Different Types
• Supercomputers: The highly calculation-intensive tasks can be
effectively performed by means of supercomputers. Quantum physics,
mechanics, weather forecasting, molecular theory are best studied by
means of supercomputers. Their ability of parallel processing and their
well-designed memory hierarchy give the supercomputers, large
transaction processing powers.

• Wearable Computers: A record-setting step in the evolution of

computers was the creation of wearable computers. These computers
can be worn on the body and are often used in the study of behavior
modeling and human health. Military and health professionals have
incorporated wearable computers into their daily routine, as a part of
such studies. When the users’ hands and sensory organs are engaged in
other activities, wearable computers are of great help in tracking human
actions. Wearable computers are consistently in operation as they do
not have to be turned on and off and are constantly interacting with the
Different Operating Systems
Understanding - Different Operating
• Operating System or OS -- is software, consisting
of programs and data, that runs on computers,
manages computer hardware resources, and
provides common services for execution of
various application software. The operating
system is the most important type of system
software in a computer system. Without an
operating system, a user cannot run an
application program on their computer, unless
the application program is self booting.
Understanding - Different Operating
• An OS has brand Name
• Each Brand has different versions of OS
• Can anyone name a brand name of an OS?
Understanding - Different Operating
• Common Brands. Windows or Mac
• Others: UNIX / Linux, Google Chrome OS,
Novel, Android.
• Before Windows, Microsoft used Dos. Dos
was a non- GUI OS (Graphical User Interface)
• Window versions: Windows CE, Windows 3.x,
Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE,
Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000,
Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7
Understanding - Different Operating

• Mac versions: Apple DOS 3.1, Apple System

1-7, Mac OS 8, Mac OS 9, Mac OS 10, Mac OS
• Unix/Linux got its start in 1957-- Bell Labs
found they needed an operating system for
their computer center that at the time was
running various batch jobs. The BESYS
operating system was created at Bell Labs to
deal with these needs.
Understanding - Different Operating

• Unix/Linux has many variations or brands that

have evolved since then
• Brands: BSD, FreeBSD, SCO/Caldera, Red Hat,
Solaris, Linux
• Linux was not started until 1991, but it is the
most noted UNIX OS
Understanding - Different Operating
• Today’s computers are:
1. Multi-user - A multi-user operating system allows for multiple
users to use the same computer at the same time and
different times.

2. Multiprocessing - An operating system capable of supporting

and utilizing more than one computer processor.

3. Multitasking - An operating system that is capable of allowing

multiple software processes to run at the same time.

4. Multithreading - Operating systems that allow different parts

of a software program to run concurrently.
Basic Components
Understanding - Basic Components

• Motherboard • Keyboard
• Processor • Mouse
• Memory (RAM) • Video card
• Monitor (display)
• Case/chassis
• Sound card
• Power supply • Speakers
• Floppy drive • Modem
• Hard disk • CD-ROM, CD-RW, or DVD-
ROM drive
Understanding - Basic Components

• CPU – Central Processing Unit

• RAM – Random Access Memory
• ROM – Read Only Memory
Understanding - Basic Components
Understanding - Basic Components

• Hardware and Software -- All of these

components are usually found within the
tower of a desktop computer. They are
referred to as "hardware". Hardware can be
thought of as the actual physical components
that go into the computer. "Software" refers
to the programs and systems that operate
within the hardware.
Understanding - Basic Components
Understanding - Basic Components
Understanding - Basic Components
• The Motherboard -- The motherboard is the “heart” of the
computer. It is the largest and most fundamental component of
a PC and every other component is attached to it in some way.
This is because all the different components use the
motherboard to communicate and work with each other.
The motherboard has a series of slots, sockets and connectors
for attaching the components of a PC.
In most cases, the memory, accessory cards, and CPU are
installed directly onto the motherboard. The drives and
peripherals communicate with the motherboard through wired
There are a wide range of motherboards to choose from. They
differ in features, speed, capacity and the CPU supported. They
also differ in size, shape and layout, this is commonly referred
to as the "form factor"
Understanding - Basic
• The CPU -- CPU stands for Central Processing Unit.
This is the brain of the computer and is often referred
to as the "processor" or the "chip". It is found under a
heat sink and fan and sits directly on the motherboard.

The CPU directs, coordinates and communicates with

the other components and performs all of the
"thinking". It's not really thinking, what a CPU actually
does is perform mathematical calculations. It is the
software that people write that translates those
calculations into useful functions for us.
Understanding - Basic
• RAM -- RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and
comes as modules in predefined amounts. It is also
found directly on the motherboard and usually in one,
two or four slots. The memory chips store information,
temporarily, for short term use by the CPU. RAM is
used to store information for files that are actually
being used by the CPU at any given time.

The computer's RAM memory is an entirely different

thing from the hard disk "memory". The hard disk
stores information "permanently" for long term use.
Understanding - Basic
• The Graphics Card -- The graphics card or video
card translates information into the graphics and
text that appear on the monitor screen.
Most motherboards now include a slot
specifically designed for the graphics adapter
called the AGP slot. This stands for Advanced
Graphics Port.
Modern graphics adapters usually incorporate
some memory right on the card to improve their
Understanding - Basic
• The Power Supply -- This supplies power to
the other components, which is why it has so
many wires coming out of it.
It is usually positioned at the back top corner
of the computer case. The power supply has a
fan built into it to keep itself and the
computer cool.
Understanding - Basic

The Hard Disk -- A hard disk - which is also called a "hard
drive" - is much like a filing cabinet. The programs and
data are stored on the hard disk and the computer
accesses them as they are needed. When the computer
accesses the hard drive, it is reading and moving the
stored information into the RAM memory. That memory is
the temporary workspace. However, the original file is still
on the hard disk and is left undisturbed until the file is
When the computer stores or "saves" information, it
writes the data to the hard disk. That process results in the
old file being replaced or modified with the new
information. If you save data to a new file, or install new
software, the information is written to the disk in an
available, unused portion of the disk.
Understanding - Basic
• The Optical Drive -- The optical drive is often
called a DVD drive, or a CD drive. It sits at the
front of the computer for ease of access, and
uses a laser to read and write information to
CD's and DVD's
How to Buy a computer
Understanding - How to Buy a
• What is important to any computer purchase?
1. Ram – if money is tight, buy more RAM by choosing a lesser CPU or smaller hard drive. For
Window7 buy 2 GB – 4 GB.
2. CPU or processor – a multi-core CPU is mandatory today in desktops and laptop. CPU speed is less
important today because they are all very fast.
3. Hard drive – Get the largest you can (250 – 500 GB). The fastest hard drives is not always better.
Computers dislike heat, slower hard drives product less heat and last longer in home environments.
SATA hard drive 7200RPM is a good choice.

• What is important to you as a individual?

1. What do I want this computer for: general home/school computer (internet, email, Office suite
software, some video/audio use), High use AutoCad or Multimedia with audio and video editing, or
Gaming. Gaming computers are like hot-rod car fast, strong, and expensive. Most general home/
school computers can do most games very well.

2. Desktop, Laptop, or minicomputer (Tablet, IPAD, Multimedia phone)?

– Desktop: will generally out last a laptop, faster and perform better than laptop, and
cheaper to work on and find replacement parts.
– Laptop: Always buy the 3 year warranty on laptops. If you keep Laptop cool, they last
longer. Handle your power supply cord gently over time, it will need replacing. Laptops
are nice on portability, but just expect to replace it sooner than a desktop
– Minicomputer – very convenient and fun. They are not full functioning PCs. Fun to have
in addition to your desktop or laptop. Example: (your desktop have your music file on it,
you your minicomputer to play files from it)
Understanding - How to Buy a
• Unless you have a geek in the family, I would not
recommend buying a used computer.
• Know who you are buying from: Wal-Mart does
not make computers, so if you have trouble after
your 30 days are up, what do you do?
• Buying from a local company can have it
advantages in support, but you will pay more.
• Buying from major brands like: HP and Dell is
nice to. They offer you 24 hour support, online
self-help, online training and instruction, online
computer analysis, etc….
Understanding - How to Buy a
• Do you need a blue-ray player? They drive the cost up
on computers, so ask yourself will I ever use it.
• Most monitors companies offer will meet your needs.
There are many types and quality of monitors, but
most new computers come with a descent 18-20 inch
• An external USB drive is nice to have for bakups. Of
course you can use your DVD writer or online service
for backups.
• Printers – The all-in-one printers (Copier, Scan, and
Print) are the way to go. For printing pictures, I
recommend using a commercial service. It is hard to
buy photo paper and ink for what companies can do it
for you.
Understanding - How to Buy a
• Today, most computers come with everything
you need. There are not a lot of accessories that
people need to buy extra
• Make sure it comes with a wired Optical Mouse
and wired keyboard. Wireless is nice, but you
will soon get tired of replacing batteries
• Most computes have a standard sound card and
speakers, which meets most peoples needs
• Web-Cam – very nice in saving long distance calls
Understanding - How to Buy a
• For Desktops, you might want to consider a
wireless adapter (just incase you can
hardwire it)
• Have fun…….