Introduction to Computers

Computers are everywhere and business and industry are using them. We can list of thousands of it's modern uses. Were the power to computers ever shut off, business and industry would almost instantly grind to halt. Without computers the modern co-operation could not ever exist. "Computers have become so deeply embedded in information processing and communication systems that almost no activity could be possible without them."
Computer is now playing a vital role in the lives of people today. It has revolutionized, the way one used to live. One cannot now imagine a world without computers, without information technology. It made things happen really wonderful. It gave a virtual world itself, where there are no barriers for communication, information sharing, idea sharing etc. Ever field of human activity, many it be his daily life, official life, everything is influenced under the cover of Information Technology.
The phrase "Information Technology" (IT) refers to the creation, gathering processing, storage, and deliver of information and the processes and devices that make all this possible. Think of these processes and devices as tool that make your life and career better or more efficient.

One of the most powerful and useful machine that man has invented so far is a Computer. Today we see it invading almost ever sector of our day to day life.

Computer is an electronic, programmable machine. Two basic characteristics of this machines are:

It responds to the specific set of instructions given by the user

1) It can execute a pre-recorded list of instructions (referred to as a Program).

2) Any general purpose computer would require the following components in its hardware configuration.

Central Processing Unit (CPU): It is the "brain" of the system, the component that actually controls the execution of the instructions.

Memory: This is the place where all the Data/Instruction are stored. Its Storage type may be volatile (temporary) or Permanent. Accordingly, memory is divided into Primary and Secondary memory.

Input devices: The components of the hardware that are used to input any data or instruction into the system. Most common among them are Keyboard and Mouse.

Many devices are available for input of specialized types.

Output Devices: These devices as the name specifies are used to display out what the system has accomplished . The Monitor is the default output device displaying what we call as the Softcopy of the output while the printer gives us a Hardcopy of the output.

Computer Block Diagram

Characteristics of Computers:

All computers have certain common characteristics irrespective of their type or size.

  • Word length: The digital computer works on BITS (Binary Digits) 0 and 1. A group of 8 such bits from a byte. Word length is the number of bits that the computer can process in a single clock tick or in unit time. Word lengths may be 8, 16, 32 or 64 Bits. The greater the word length, the greater is the speed of the computer.
  • Speed: Computers work at very high speed much faster than humans. The speed of a computer is measured in clock cycles (Hertz). Millions of instructions can be executed in a second. Speed incresses with the power of the computer. For example supercomputers have computing speeds measured in Nanoseconds or Picoseconds.
  • Accuracy: Speed without accuracy is of no use and so the accuracy in computers is very high. Errors do occur, but they are due to hardware errors (technological factor) or errors due to wrong user input (human factor).
  • Storage Capacity: The computer can store large amount of data and information. The storage memory is either primary or secondary memory. The primary memory (Main memory) is used to store temporary data while the computer is in the runtime condition. The Secondary memory consists of storage devices which are use to store data permanently. The unit of storage is a Byte with the storage capacities of both primary and secondary memory described in bytes or its derivatives.
  • Diligence: Being a machine, computer never gets bored or tired as in the case of human beings. It never gets exhausted repetitive tasks.
  • Versatility: Computers have invaded ever field and are proving efficient in every work they do. Computers are versatile machines and they can do tasks from as simple as calculations to as complex as navigation of missiles and satellites.
  • Versatility has been achieved in computers as they can do any job provided it is divided into logical steps.
  • Security: Computers can provide security to the data. Many softwares provide security in the form of passwords to restrict to the data. This way unauthorized access can be limited.
  • Automation: The level of Automation is phenomenal in Computers. Computers can be programmed to perform complex tasks automatically. The task is initiated once and the computer follows it to completion according to the programming logic. If programmed correctly, computers can be made to switch from program to program executed in a pre-defined sequence, switch on/off machines at the appropriate time, they can monitor operational parameters and also take corrective actions if the parameters cause errors.

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