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13080713 Computer Basics (1)

13080713 Computer Basics (1)

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09/06/2012

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Computer Basics
 W 
elcome to the interesting world of computers! In thischapter, you will learn what are computers, what makes themspecial, and other facts and concepts about computers. You’llalso learn some terms used by computer experts when they speak of (and write about) computers.
Chapter Objectives
 After you finish reading this chapter, you should be able to:
 
Define what is a
computer
 
 
Identify the
key characteristics 
of a computer
 
Differentiate between a computer and another non-computer electronic device, such as a
calculator 
(even a
 programmable 
one)
 
Differentiate between a
 general-purpose computer 
(like theones we are using at school) and a
special-purpose computer 
 (such as the
Sony Playstation 
 )
 
Describe the
concept of operations 
of a computer
 
Describe what is a
program
and why it is very importantto a computer
 
Describe the
Copyright Issues 
surrounding programs
 
Describe what are
Copyrighted 
,
Freeware 
,
Shareware 
, and
Preloaded software 
 
Describe what are
Shrinkwrap Agreements 
,
EULA
s,
SLA
s, and
LA
s
 
Identify and describe some of the
 programs 
found in atypical computer
C H A P T E R
+ + + + +
In This Chapter:
Chapter Objectives
 
What Is A Computer?Concept Of OperationsData VS InformationMore About ProgramsFreeware, Shareware, Copy-righted, and Pre-loadedSoftwareShrinkwrap Agreements,EULAs, SLAs, and LAsPrograms Found In ATypical Computer 
 
+ + + + +
 
1111
 
Computer Basics – What Is A Computer?
 
1-
 
2
 
Building skills for success
KeyCharacteristicsOf A Computer Definitionof 
Programmability 
;the differencebetween theComputer and aCalculator or theSonyPlayStation
 game console
Storage
and
“Saving” Retrieval 
and
“Opening” 
or 
“Loading” 
 
Computer Basics: What Is A Computer?
Before we start in earnest about our
Windows XP 
tutorial, it is but appropriate to ask ourselves the question,
“What is a computer system?” 
, or
“What is a computer?” 
. The answerto these questions hold the key about the characteristics of a computer system: what it is and what comprises one; its parts, etc. OK. So here is a definition, obtained from a computer sciencebook:
Computer
 
 
an
electronic 
,
 programmable 
device that can
store 
,
retrieve 
, and
 process 
infor-mation. The definition outlines several key points. Let us discuss them a bit; the discussion mightemphasize some facts about a computer that maybe we haven’t known yet:
Electronic
 
in this day and age, all computers are assumed to be
 powered by electrici- ty 
, whether it be the electricity coming from our wall outlet ( 
 AC
or
 Alternating Current 
 ) or electricity coming from that of a battery ( 
DC
or
Direct Current 
 ). Inthe past, there were “computers” that were not powered by electricity, but today,any computer worthy of mention has to be powered by electricity.
Programmable
 
 
Programmability 
is
the ability of a computer to accept different sets of instructions 
 
programs
 ) 
so that it can do different tasks. Thischaracteristic (of a computer) is what distinguishes it from a
calculator 
(even a so-called
“programmable” 
one) or even the
Sony Playstation 
 
 game console 
. A
“programmable” 
calculator is indeed
 programmable 
, but only to a limited extent.On the other hand, with the
Playstation 
, you can only play games. Why can’tyou do some
typing 
or
data encoding 
using the
Playstation 
? This is because the
Playstation 
isn’t as
“programmable” 
as a “true” computer. In this sense, the
Playstation 
is considered as only a
special-purpose computer
, whose solepurpose is for playing games. But a computer in the truest sense of the wordcould be used to do a lot of tasks. As to what tasks it can do, it depends on theuser’s collection of 
 programs 
that it (the computer) can perform. A user who hasa huge collection of 
 programs 
can do a lot more of different tasks on his/hercomputer than someone who has only a limited collection of 
 programs 
. Later onin the next few pages, more will be said about
 programs 
and
 programmability 
.
Store
 
with their voluminous
hard disks 
,
CDs 
, and
tape drives 
, computers today caneasily 
store 
large amounts of 
data 
. A typical
hard disk
today can contain severaltens or even hundreds of 
Gigabytes 
of 
data 
. In computers, we don’t really use theterm
“store” 
; instead, the more popular (and appropriate) word for
“store” 
is
“save.” 
 
Retrieve
 
 
Retrieval 
means
 getting back the data that the computer has stored 
(or
saved 
 ). It is the opposite of 
storage 
. What good can a computer do if it cannot
retrieve 
the tens (or hundreds) of 
Gigabytes 
of 
data 
that it has
stored 
? The morepopular (and appropriate) words for
“retrieve” 
are
“open” 
or
“load.” 
 
 
Computer Basics – Key Characteristics Of A Computer (cont’d.); Concept Of Operations
 
1-
 
3
 
Building skills for success
Definition of 
Processing 
;the connectionbetween thenature of the
 processing 
doneby a computer and the
Program
usedKeyCharacteristicsrecapped
Input
PROCESSING
Output
Process
 
 
Processing 
is
the transformation of data into a more useful or presentable form 
. It is the most important function of a computer. For example, the
alphabetization 
(or
arrangement in alphabetical order 
 ) of a list of names is acommon function among 
Spreadsheet 
and/or
Database 
programs.
Processing 
isthus related to
 programmability 
because the kind of processing that a programdoes on its
data 
depends on what the program was intended to do. For instance,you cannot expect a
Word Processing 
program to manipulate pictures or graphicsbecause that program (i.e., the
Word Processor 
 ) wasn’t intended (or
 programmed 
 ) tomanipulate pictures or graphics. Conversely, you can’t expect to type yourrésumé using a
Graphics 
program, because that program (the
Graphics 
program) was not intended to manipulate several lines (or even pages) of text.OK. The above discussions introduced lots more of terms, but let’s try to first recapsome of the main points from the discussion; perhaps, some computer facts and concepts may be illuminated by our recap:
 
J
 
 A
computer 
is an
electric-powered 
device in which data can be
stored 
(or
saved 
 ),
manipulated 
 
(or
 processed 
 ), and
opened back
(i.e.,
retrieved 
 ).
 
J
 
 The
processing 
(or
manipulation 
 ) of 
data 
is dependent on the particular type of 
 program 
being used.
J
 
 The functioning of a computer, therefore, depends, to a very large extent, on thecollection of 
 programs 
 
installed 
in that particular computer you are using; the more
 programs 
there are
installed 
in that computer, the more things (i.e., tasks) you cando.
 
J
 
 You might be wondering aloud,
“And what are programs?” 
Simply put, a
program 
 is
a set of instructions that a computer should follow in order to accomplish a particular task
, which is
to process the data 
. Essentially, the program
describes how the data is to be  processed 
.
J
 
 A
Graphics 
program, for example, does a different kind of job/task than a
Word-  processing 
program (also called a
Word Processor 
 ).
Concept Of Operations
 
If we think of it in simple terms, a computer’s concept of operation is described by thisdiagram ( 
Figure 1-1
 ):
 
New Term
: In computer lingo, the word
“install” 
is synonymous to
“put insidethe hard disk of our computer.” 
 
For example, when we tell a computer technician,
“Please install Microsoft Word 
in my computer?” 
, we areasking that person to put a copy of the program
Microsoft Word 
insideour computer’s hard disk.
The term
“Install” 
defined

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