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TOPIC: Fundamentals of Computer

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Fundamentals of computer introduces you the
basic general definitions, parts, and functions of computer. In this
module you must familiarize yourself with computer hardware and
software, specially its uses.

Course Outline:
I. Introduction to Computers

What are computers?


How Computer works
Using your mouse
Using your mouse
Type of Computer Software

System software
Programming software

Application software

I. Introduction to computers
What are computers?
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, in your lap, or
even in your pocket.
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 computerthe part
that translates instructions and performs calculations. Hardware items such as your monitor,
keyboard, mouse, printer, and other items are often called hardware devices, or devices.
Software refers to the instructions, or programs, that tell the hardware what to do. A word
processing program that you can use to write letters on your computer is a type of software. The
operating system (OS) is software that manages your computer and the devices connected to it.
Two well-known operating systems are Windows and Macintosh operating system. Your
computer uses the Windows operating system.


The illustration below shows the most common hardware in a desktop computer system. Your
system may look a little different, but it probably has most of these parts. A laptop computer has
similar parts but combines them into a single notebook-sized package.


computer system

Let's take a look at each of these parts.

System unit
The system unit is the core of a computer system. Usually it's a rectangular box placed on or
underneath your desk. Inside this box are many electronic components that process information.
The most important of these components is the central processing unit (CPU), or
microprocessor, which acts as the "brain" of your computer. Another component is random
access memory (RAM), which temporarily stores information that the CPU uses while the
computer is on. The information stored in RAM is erased when the computer is turned off.
Almost every other part of your computer connects to the system unit using cables. The cables
plug into specific ports (openings), typically on the back of the system unit. Hardware that is not
part of the system unit is sometimes called a peripheral device or device.
System unit

Your computer has one or more disk drivesdevices that store information on a metal or plastic
disk. The disk preserves the information even when your computer is turned off.

Hard disk drive

Your computer's hard disk drive stores information on a hard disk, a rigid platter or stack of
platters with a magnetic surface. Because hard disks can hold massive amounts of information,
they usually serve as your computer's primary means of storage, holding almost all of your
programs and files. The hard disk drive is normally located inside the system unit.
Hard disk drive

CD and DVD drives

Nearly all computers today come equipped with a CD or DVD drive, usually located on the front
of the system unit. CD drives use lasers to read (retrieve) data from a CD, and many CD drives
can also write (record) data onto CDs. If you have a recordable disk drive, you can store copies
of your files on blank CDs. You can also use a CD drive to play music CDs on your computer.

DVD drives can do everything that CD drives can, plus read DVDs. If you have a DVD drive,
you can watch movies on your computer. Many DVD drives can record data onto blank DVDs.

Floppy disk drive

Floppy disk drives store information on floppy disks, also called floppies or diskettes. Compared
to CDs and DVDs, floppy disks can store only a small amount of data. They also retrieve
information more slowly and are more prone to damage. For these reasons, floppy disk drives are
less popular than they used to be, although some computers still include them.
Floppy disk

Why are floppy disks "floppy"? Even though the outside is made of hard plastic, that's just the
sleeve. The disk inside is made of a thin, flexible vinyl material.

A mouse is a small device used to point to and select items on your computer screen. Although
mice come in many shapes, the typical mouse does look a bit like an actual mouse. It's small,
oblong, and connected to the system unit by a long wire that resembles a tail. Some newer mice
are wireless.

A mouse usually has two buttons: a primary button (usually the left button) and a secondary
button. Many mice also have a wheel between the two buttons, which allows you to scroll
smoothly through screens of information.

When you move the mouse with your hand, a pointer on your screen moves in the same
direction. (The pointer's appearance might change depending on where it's positioned on your
screen.) When you want to select an item, you point to the item and then click (press and release)
the primary button. Pointing and clicking with your mouse is the main way to interact with your

A keyboard is used mainly for typing text into your computer. Like the keyboard on a typewriter,
it has keys for letters and numbers, but it also has special keys:

The function keys, found on the top row, perform different functions depending on where
they are used.

The numeric keypad, located on the right side of most keyboards, allows you to enter
numbers quickly.

The navigation keys, such as the arrow keys, allow you to move your position within a
document or webpage.

You can also use your keyboard to perform many of the same tasks you can perform with a

A monitor displays information in visual form, using text and graphics. The portion of the
monitor that displays the information is called the screen. Like a television screen, a computer
screen can show still or moving pictures.
There are two basic types of monitors: CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors and LCD (liquid crystal
display) monitors. Both types produce sharp images, but LCD monitors have the advantage of
being much thinner and lighter. CRT monitors, however, are generally more affordable.
LCD monitor (left); CRT monitor (right)

A printer transfers data from a computer onto paper. You don't need a printer to use your
computer, but having one allows you to print e-mail, cards, invitations, announcements, and
other materials. Many people also like being able to print their own photos at home.
The two main types of printers are inkjet printers and laser printers. Inkjet printers are the most
popular printers for the home. They can print in black and white or in full color and can produce
high-quality photographs when used with special paper. Laser printers are faster and generally
better able to handle heavy use.
Inkjet printer (left); laser printer (right)

Speakers are used to play sound. They may be built into the system unit or connected with
cables. Speakers allow you to listen to music and hear sound effects from your computer.
Computer speakers

To connect your computer to the Internet, you need a modem. A modem is a device that sends
and receives computer information over a telephone line or high-speed cable. Modems are
sometimes built into the system unit, but higher-speed modems are usually separate components.

Cable modem

A.1. Using your mouse

Just as you would use your hands to interact with objects in the physical world, you can use your
mouse to interact with items on your computer screen. You can move objects, open them, change
them, throw them away, and perform other actions, all by pointing and clicking with your mouse.

Basic parts
A mouse typically has two buttons: a primary button (usually the left button) and a secondary
button (usually the right button). The primary button is the one you will use most often. Most
mice also include a scroll wheel between the buttons to help you scroll through documents and
webpages more easily. On some mice, the scroll wheel can be pressed to act as a third button.
Advanced mice might have additional buttons that can perform other functions.
Parts of a mouse

Holding and moving the mouse

Place your mouse beside your keyboard on a clean, smooth surface, such as a mouse pad. Hold
the mouse gently with your index finger resting on the primary button and your thumb resting on
the side. To move the mouse, slide it slowly in any direction. Don't twist itkeep the front of the
mouse aimed away from you. As you move the mouse, a pointer (see picture) on your screen

moves in the same direction. If you run out of room to move your mouse on your desk or mouse
pad, just pick up the mouse and bring it back closer to you.
Hold the mouse lightly, keeping your wrist straight

Pointing, clicking, and dragging

Pointing to an item on the screen means moving your mouse so the pointer appears to be
touching the item. When you point to something, a small box often appears that describes the
item. For example, when you point to the Recycle Bin on the desktop, a box appears with this
information: "Contains the files and folders that you have deleted."
Pointing to an object often reveals a descriptive

message about it

The pointer can change depending on what you're pointing to. For example, when you point to a
link in your web browser, the pointer changes from an arrow to a hand with a pointing finger
Most mouse actions combine pointing with pressing one of the mouse buttons. There are four
basic ways to use your mouse buttons: clicking, double-clicking, right-clicking, and dragging.

Clicking (single-clicking)
To click an item, point to the item on the screen, and then press and release the primary button
(usually the left button).
Clicking is most often used to select (mark) an item or open a menu. This is sometimes called
single-clicking or left-clicking.


To double-click an item, point to the item on the screen, and then click twice quickly. If the two
clicks are spaced too far apart, they might be interpreted as two individual clicks rather than as
one double-click.
Double-clicking is most often used to open items on your desktop. For example, you can start a
program or open a folder by double-clicking its icon on the desktop.

To right-click an item, point to the item on the screen, and then press and release the secondary
button (usually the right button).
Right-clicking an item usually displays a list of things you can do with the item. For example,
when you right-click the Recycle Bin on your desktop, Windows displays a menu allowing you
to open it, empty it, delete it, or see its properties. If you're ever unsure of what to do with
something, right-click it.
Right-clicking the Recycle Bin opens a menu of related commands

You can move items around your screen by dragging them. To drag an object, point to the object
on the screen, press and hold the primary button, move the object to a new location, and then
release the primary button.
Dragging (sometimes called dragging and dropping) is most often used to move files and folders
to a different location and to move windows and icons around on your screen.
Using the scroll wheel
If your mouse has a scroll wheel, you can use it to scroll through documents and webpages. To
scroll down, roll the wheel backward (toward you). To scroll up, roll the wheel forward (away
from you).


Customizing your mouse

You can change your mouse settings to suit your personal preferences. For example, you can
change how fast your mouse pointer moves around the screen, or change the pointer's
appearance. If you're left-handed, you can switch the primary button to be the right button.

A.2. Using your keyboard

Whether you're writing a letter or entering numerical data, your keyboard is the main way to
enter information into your computer. But did you know you can also use your keyboard to
control your computer? Learning just a few simple keyboard commands (instructions to your
computer) can help you work more efficiently. This article covers the basics of keyboard
operation and gets you started with keyboard commands.

How the keys are organized

The keys on your keyboard can be divided into several groups based on function:

Typing (alphanumeric) keys. These keys include the same letter, number, punctuation,
and symbol keys found on a traditional typewriter.

Control keys. These keys are used alone or in combination with other keys to perform
certain actions. The most frequently used control keys are CTRL, ALT, the Windows logo
key , and ESC.

Function keys. The function keys are used to perform specific tasks. They are labeled as
F1, F2, F3, and so on, up to F12. The functionality of these keys differs from program to

Navigation keys. These keys are used for moving around in documents or WebPages and
editing text. They include the arrow keys, HOME, END, PAGE UP, PAGE DOWN,

Numeric keypad. The numeric keypad is handy for entering numbers quickly. The keys
are grouped together in a block like a conventional calculator or adding machine.

The following illustration shows how these keys are arranged on a typical keyboard. Your
keyboard layout may differ.


How the keys are arranged on a keyboard

Typing text
Whenever you need to type something in a program, e-mail message, or text box, you'll see a
blinking vertical line ( ). That's the cursor, also called the insertion point. It shows where the
text that you type will begin. You can move the cursor by clicking in the desired location with
the mouse, or by using the navigation keys (see the "Using navigation keys" section of this
In addition to letters, numerals, punctuation marks, and symbols, the typing keys also include
Key name

How to use it


Press SHIFT in combination with a letter to type an uppercase letter. Press SHIFT in combination
with another key to type the symbol shown on the upper part of that key.


Press CAPS LOCK once to type all letters as uppercase. Press CAPS LOCK again to turn this
function off. Your keyboard may have a light indicating whether CAPS LOCK is on.


Press the TAB key to move the cursor several spaces forward. You can also press the TAB key to
move to the next text box on a form.


Press ENTER to move the cursor to the beginning of the next line. In a dialog box, press ENTER
to select the highlighted button.


Press the SPACEBAR to move the cursor one space forward.


Press BACKSPACE to delete the character before the cursor, or the selected text.


Using keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are ways to perform actions by using your keyboard. They're called shortcuts
because they help you work faster. In fact, almost any action or command you can perform with
a mouse can be performed faster using one or more keys on your keyboard.
In Help topics, a plus sign (+) between two or more keys indicates that those keys should be
pressed in combination. For example, CTRL+A means to press and hold CTRL and then press
A. CTRL+SHIFT+A means to press and hold CTRL and SHIFT and then press A.

Find program shortcuts

You can do things in most programs by using the keyboard. To see which commands have
keyboard shortcuts, open a menu. The shortcuts (if available) are shown next to the menu items.
Keyboard shortcuts appear next to menu items

Choose menus, commands, and options

You can open menus and choose commands and other options using your keyboard. When you
press ALT in a program with menus, one letter in each of the menu names becomes underlined.
Press an underlined letter to open the corresponding menu. Press the underlined letter in a menu
item to choose that command.


Press ALT+F to open the File menu, then press P to choose the

Print command

This trick works in dialog boxes too. Whenever you see an underlined letter attached to an option
in a dialog box, it means you can press ALT plus that letter to choose that option.

Useful shortcuts

The following table lists some of the most useful keyboard shortcuts.
Press this

To do this

Open the Start menu

Windows logo key


Switch between open programs or windows


Close the active item, or exit the active program


Save the current file or document (works in most programs)


Copy the selected item


Cut the selected item


Paste the selected item


Undo an action



Select all items in a document or window


Display Help for a program or Windows

Windows logo key


Display Windows Help and Support


Cancel the current task

Application key

Open a menu of commands related to a selection in a program. Equivalent to rightclicking the selection.

Using navigation keys

The navigation keys allow you to move the cursor, move around in documents and webpages, and edit text. The
following table lists some common functions of these keys.

Press this

To do this



Move the cursor or selection one space or line in the direction of the arrow,
or scroll a webpage in the direction of the arrow


Move the cursor to the beginning of a line or move to the top of a webpage


Move the cursor to the end of a line or move to the bottom of a webpage


Move to the top of a document


Move to the bottom of a document


Move the cursor or page up one screen


Move the cursor or page down one screen


Delete the character after the cursor, or the selected text; in Windows,
delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin



Turn Insert mode off or on. When Insert mode is on, text that you type is
inserted at the cursor. When Insert mode is off, text that you type replaces
existing characters.

Using the numeric keypad

The numeric keypad arranges the numerals 0 though 9, the arithmetic operators + (addition), (subtraction), * (multiplication), and / (division), and the decimal point as they would appear on
a calculator or adding machine. These characters are duplicated elsewhere on the keyboard, of
course, but the keypad arrangement allows you to rapidly enter numerical data or mathematical
operations with one hand.
Numeric keypad

To use the numeric keypad to enter numbers, press NUM LOCK. Most keyboards have a light
that indicates whether NUM LOCK is on or off. When NUM LOCK is off, the numeric keypad
functions as a second set of navigation keys (these functions are printed on the keys next to the
numerals or symbols).
You can use your numeric keypad to perform simple calculations with Calculator.

Three odd keys

So far, we've discussed almost every key you're likely to use. But for the truly inquisitive, let's
explore the three most mysterious keys on the keyboard: PRINT SCREEN, SCROLL LOCK,


A long time ago, this key actually did what it saysit sent the current screen of text to your
printer. Nowadays, pressing PRINT SCREEN captures an image of your entire screen (a "screen
shot") and copies it to the Clipboard in your computer's memory. From there you can paste it
(CTRL+V) into Microsoft Paint or another program and, if you want, print it from that program.

More obscure is SYS RQ, which shares the key with PRINT SCREEN on some keyboards.
Historically, SYS RQ was designed to be a "system request," but this command is not enabled in

Press ALT+PRINT SCREEN to capture an image of just the active window, instead of the entire screen.


In most programs, pressing SCROLL LOCK has no effect. In a few programs, pressing
SCROLL LOCK changes the behavior of the arrow keys and the PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN
keys; pressing these keys causes the document to scroll without changing the position of the
cursor or selection. Your keyboard might have a light indicating whether SCROLL LOCK is on.

This key is rarely used. In some older programs, pressing this key pauses the program or, in
combination with CTRL, stops it from running.

Other keys
Some modern keyboards come with "hot keys" or buttons that give you quick, one-press access
to programs, files, or commands. Other models have volume controls, scroll wheels, zoom
wheels, and other gadgets. For details about these features, check the information that came with
your keyboard or computer, or go to the manufacturer's website.


A computer collects processes, stores and outputs information.



The byte is a unit of digital information in computing and telecommunications, that most
commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, a byte was the number of bits used to encode a
single character of text in a computer and it is for this reason the basic addressable element in
many computer architectures.

Bit: A Bit is the smallest unit of data that a computer uses. It can be used to represent two
states of information, such as Yes or No.
Byte: A Byte is equal to 8 Bits. A Byte can represent 256 states of information, for
example, numbers or a combination of numbers and letters. 1 Byte could be equal to one
character. 10 Bytes could be equal to a word. 100 Bytes would equal an average sentence.

Kilobyte: A Kilobyte is approximately 1,000 Bytes, actually 1,024 Bytes depending on

which definition is used. 1 Kilobyte would be equal to this paragraph you are reading,
whereas 100 Kilobytes would equal an entire page.
Megabyte: A Megabyte is approximately 1,000 Kilobytes. In the early days of
computing, a Megabyte was considered to be a large amount of data. These days with a
500 Gigabyte hard drive on a computer being common, a Megabyte doesn't seem like
much anymore. One of those old 3-1/2 inch floppy disks can hold 1.44 Megabytes or the
equivalent of a small book. 100 Megabytes might hold a couple volumes of
Encyclopedias. 600 Megabytes is about the amount of data that will fit on a CD-ROM
Gigabyte: A Gigabyte is approximately 1,000 Megabytes. A Gigabyte is a very common
term used these days when referring to disk space or drive storage. 1 Gigabyte of data is
almost twice the amount of data that a CD-ROM can hold. But it's about one thousand
times the capacity of a 3-1/2 floppy disk. 1 Gigabyte could hold the contents of about 10
yards of books on a shelf. 100 Gigabytes could hold the entire library floor of academic
Terabyte: A Terabyte is approximately one trillion bytes, or 1,000 Gigabytes. Now we
are getting up there to a size that is so large that it is not a common term yet. To put it in
some perspective, a Terabyte could hold about 3.6 million 300 Kilobyte images or maybe
about 300 hours of good quality video. A Terabyte could hold 1,000 copies of the
Encyclopedia Britannica. Ten Terabytes could hold the printed collection of the Library
of Congress. That's a lot of data.
Petabyte: A Petabyte is approximately 1,000 Terabytes or one million Gigabytes. It's
hard to visualize what a Petabyte could hold. 1 Petabyte could hold approximately 20
million 4-door filing cabinets full of text. It could hold 500 billion pages of standard
printed text. It would take about 500 million floppy disks to store the same amount of
Exabyte: An Exabyte is approximately 1,000 Petabytes. Another way to look at it is that
a Petabyte is approximately one quintillion bytes or one billion Gigabytes. There is not
much to compare an Exabyte to. It has been said that 5 Exabytes would be equal to all of
the words ever spoken by mankind.
Zettabyte: A Zettabyte is approximately 1,000 Exabytes. There is nothing to compare a
Zettabyte to but to say that it would take a whole lot of ones and zeroes to fill it up.

What is Computer Software?
Computer software, or just software, is the collection of computer programs and related data
that provide the instructions telling a computer what to do. We can also say software refers to
one or more computer programs and data held in the storage of the computer for some purposes.

Type of Computer Software


1. System software
System software provides the basic functions for computer usage and helps run the computer
hardware and system, such as operating system and window systems.
It includes a combination of the following:

device drivers
operating systems
window systems

System software is responsible for managing a variety of independent hardware components, so

that they can work together harmoniously. Its purpose is to unburden the application software
programmer from the often complex details of the particular computer being used, including
such accessories as communications devices, printers, device readers, displays and keyboards,
and also to partition the computer's resources such as memory and processor time in a safe and
stable manner.

2. Programming software
Programming software usually provides tools to assist a programmer in writing computer
programs, and software using different programming languages in a more convenient way. The
tools include:

text editors

An Integrated development environment (IDE) is a single application that attempts to manage all
these functions.

3. Application software
Application software is developed for some certain purpose, which either can be a certain
program or a collection of some programs, such as a graphic browser or the data base
management system. Application software allows end users to accomplish one or more specific
(not directly computer development related) tasks.
Typical applications include:

industrial automation
business software

video games
quantum chemistry and solid state physics software
telecommunications (i.e., the Internet and everything that flows on it)
educational software
Mathematical software
medical software
molecular modeling software
image editing
simulation software
Word processing
Decision making software

Application software exists for and has impacted a wide variety of topics.