Basic Computer Science

for
Beginners

By

Kingsley Idiagbor, B.Sc(Hons), PGDCs

December 2002

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COMPUTER
DEFINITION: Computer is an electronic machine
used for processing data, store and produce
an output to the user
DATA: Data is the raw information that is fed
into the computer.
Data comes in three forms: letters (like
a,b,c..)
numerals (such as 1,2,3...) and special
characters (e.g. $, @,/ ..)
INPUT: Input is the process of feeding data
into the computer.
OUTPUT: is the processed data that is
communicated to the user. The output is also

Input Process Output

Storage

CATEGORIES OF COMPUTER
There are four major categories of computer:
Microcomputers: These are computer systems
that have the microprocessor in one case.They
are further subdivided into palmtop,
notebook, laptop and desktop computers.

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2. Minicomputers: These are more powerful than the
microcomputers and can support a number of users performing
different tasks. Most powerful mini-computers are called super
mini-computers
3. Mainframe: They are large systems that can
handle hundreds of users. They store large amounts of data
and process transactions at high rate. Mainframes require
several rooms to store.
4. Super-computers: They are the most powerful
category of computers and also the most expensive. They are
used for such applications as weather forecasting,
engineering designs and testing, space exploration and other
tasks, which require long and complex calculations.
TYPES OF COMPUTER
We have three different kinds of computers:
i) Analog computers;
ii) Digital computers and
iii) Hybrid computers
Analog computers
These are devices that measure one form of physical
quantities or another like temperature, pressure, speed and so on.
Examples of analog computers are thermometer, barometer,
speedometer and hygrometer

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Digital computers:
These are devices that are used for
counting. Examples include adding machine, billing
machine, electronic wrist-watch and calculator

Hybrid computers
These devices combine the functions of
measuring physical quantities as well as counting.
Electronic computers like desktop computers and
notebooks are examples of hybrid computers
PARTS OF A COMPUTER
There are four major parts of a computer:
1. Monitor;
2. System Unit (which contains the CPU,hard
disks & others)
3. Disk drive (provides slot for diskettes)

4. Keyboard

Monitor
System Unit

Disk drive

Keyboard

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iii) printer. iv) plotter. Examples of Peripherals: i) mouse. not a major part. processing devices. PERIPHERALS These are those external devices that must be attached to the System unit for them to work. vi) UPS (Uninterruptible power supply). scanner and printer HARDWARE This is the physical component of the computer which we can see and touch Hardware is made up of four types of devices or units. ix) data projectors. vii) scanner. Enlisted below are various input devices: i) keyboard ii) mouse. output devices and storage devices. viii)telephone. Some peripherals. ii) light pen. x) microphone among several others. v) modem (modulator-demodulator). These include: input devices. Examples are the mouse. iii) scanner 5 . INPUT DEVICES Input devices are those devices that are used for feeding in data into the computer. are becoming indispensable features of a modern PC (Personal Computer).

Another example is the Modem (modulator-Demodulator) which is processes data for communication purpose. viii) trackball. The modem enables the computer to dial a telephone or access the INTERNET (more on this later on the course) by dial-up method OUTPUT DEVICES They are devices that computer uses to produce output (information)or the unit that is used to communicate with the user. The CPU (central processing unit) which is generally regarded as the 'heart' or the 'brain' of the computer. v) joystick (for playing computer games). c) data projectors. d) plotters. f) voice output (such as we find in Robot technology) 6 . vii) touch screens. e) computer output microfilm.iv) light pen. They may include: a) monitor. PROCESSING DEVICES These are units that process data from one form to another. vi) voice input. b) printer. is a major processing device.

TYPES OF MONITORS We have two major kinds of monitors: monochrome monitors and colour monitors Monochrome Monitors: They are computer terminals that display a single colour such as amber.STORAGE DEVICES Storage is the fourth and final operation in the information processing cycle (earlier mentioned). storage devices are those devices used for storing data and programs for later use. or black 7 . As the name implies. the better the screen resolution. The output that is displayed on the computer cannot be touched. as it were. We have primary storage (main memory inside the system unit) and the secondary storage devices. VDU (Visual display unit). we are going to look at some of them in detail: MONITOR Monitor is the part of the computer that looks like television set. Screen or just Display. and is called soft copy output. Pixel: also called 'picture element’ are the individual dots that make up the text or graphic and can be illuminated. The greater the number of pixels. The latter is sometimes called Auxillary storage. In the section that follows. It is variously called as CRT (Cathode Ray tube). green or white on a black background. Resolution: This is the clarity of a monitor and is determined by the number of pixels that can be illuminated.

EGA (Enhanced Graphics Adapter) VGA (Video Graphics Array) SVGA (Super Video Graphics Array) Each standard provides for a different number of pixels and colours and offer even higher resolution screens. we have what we call the Flat panel Monitors that are actually LCD (stands for Liquid Crystal Display) and plasma screens. came a need for an output display that was equally portable.characters against white background Colour Monitors They are more expensive than the monochrome monitors and are more desirable because colour enables users to more easily read and understand the information on the screen. 8 .There are also the TFT (stands for thin-film transistors) monitors that makes use of LED (Light emitting diodes). Today. Several Graphic standards have been developed and they include: CGA: (Colour Graphics Adapter). With the development of mobile computing in the form of truly portable computers that could be conveniently carried by hand or in a briefcase.

and character together. These include ink-jet printer. This is either by impact or non-impact Impact printers These transfer the image onto the paper by some type of printing mechanism striking the paper. ribbon. How are Printers Classified? Printers can be classified by how they transfer characters from the printer to the paper. Examples of impact printers include: a) dot-matrix printer b) daisy wheel printer c) chain printer d) band printer Non-Impact printers There are also a variety of non-impact printers. 9 . Printers Printers are very important peripheral in that they produce hard copy output that the user can carry about unlike the soft copy output from monitors. thermal printer and page printers like the laser jet printer.

We 1 . The Chinese and the Ancient Babylonians made use of the Abacus. James-Marie Jacquard. During the renaissance period however. Terms associated with Printers DQ Draft quality NLQ Near Letter quality LQ Letter quality CPS Characters per second PPM Papers per minute BRIEF HISTORY OF COMPUTERS Computing has a long history and started with man’s search for the best method of easy counting and manipulation of items and number of materials and other resources. one must consider other factors before choosing a printer.Choosing a Printer Besides understanding the features and capabilities of the various types of printers that are available. notable scientists like Blasé Pascal. Laser-jet is very desirable for printing heavily text documents while ink-jet printer is the best bet for graphics intensive documents. and Charles Babbage devised better counting devices. the speed as well as the quality of the text and graphics. Such factors include how much output will be produced.

The first electronic computer was the ENIAC and was developed by IBM in the year 1946. INTERNET is the information superhighway that started as ARPANET in late 60s but became popular in the mid 1990s. average person could now purchase personal computers. In 1980. Herman Hollerith’s tabulating machine that eased the 1890 American census and became the older cousin of the IBM computers. In 1969. IBM gave Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation. which were not as large and produced less heat. They were very large and produced large amount of heat because of the use of vacuum tubes. Suffice it to say that the INTERNET is perhaps the greatest gift of computing to man and has changed the way that he views his world. a contract to come out with an operating system.had the punched cards by Jacquard. Ted Hoff invented IC (Integrated circuit) and together with Gordon Moore developed the 8008 microprocessor in INTEL. The development of transistors gave birth to the second-generation computers. COMPUTER TIMELINE [summary] 1400 BC Abacus 11 . They were the first generation computers. His MS-DOS and later several releases of ‘Windows’ have changed the face of computing world-over. e- mail. With the advent of INTERNET came e-commerce. and teleconferencing. In 1975. Microcomputers were born. virtual research.

1924 Herman Hollerith’s tabulating machine 1937 Atanasoff-Berry-Computer [ABC] 1946 von Neumann & Mauchley –ENIAC 1952 Grace Hopper programs computer using symbolic code. Note that Ada Lovelace.1800 AD James-Marie Jacquard Weaving1 loom machine /cards Fig: Jacquard’s punched cards 1890Charles Babbage [generally regarded as Father of computer] analytical engine 1890. was the Fig: Charles Babbage’s first programmer Analytical 1957 FORTRAN programming language Engine 1958 Computers built with transistors 1 . a woman.

ARPANET-forerunner of INTERNET 1970 4th generation computers 1975 MITS-the first commercial PC 1976 Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak built the first Apple® computer 1980 Bill Gates –MS-DOS 1981 IBM PC introduced 1983 Mitch Kapor –Lotus 1-2-3 1984 Apple introduces Mac computers 1989 Intel 80486 microprocessor for 486 computers 1990 Microsoft released Windows 3.0 1995 Microsoft released Windows 95 w/ FAT-32 addressing system & Internet browser in one 1995 Pentium technology 1996 More domain registration for INTERNET 1997 Nanotechnology & miniaturization of computers 1 .1969 Ted Hoff of Intel developed a microprocessor codenamed Intel 4004.

It is so with the computer. The computer is lifeless and you can really not do any thing without programs. The program could be a simple one like instructing the computer to add two numbers together or could be a complex one like forecasting what the weather would be like in Calabar tomorrow. isn’t it? You cannot actually carry out the instruction if you did not understand my language. 2008 What is a program? Program is a set of instructions that are fed into a computer to carry out a task. We can type our letters with the computer because of a program that makes the computer to allow us to do so. To be able to write a program. too. 1998 Microsoft released Windows 98 June 4. Programming Language If I want you to do something for me. the instructions should be written in a language that the computer can 1 . that is an instruction.

FORTRAN (Formula Translator) 3. ALGOL (Algorithmic Language) There are many other languages that can be used for writing programs. JAVA 10. BASIC (which stands for Beginners All- purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) 2. COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) 4. Examples of programming language 1. HTML (Hyper Text Mark-up Language – used for web page authoring in the INTERNET) 9. These are just a few of them. C + + (pronounced C plus plus) 8. ADA 5. C 7. Such a language is called a programming language.understand easily. Pascal 6. 1 .

Some of these operations include starting up the computer (booting). Types of software There are three major types of software. executing (that is carrying out instructions). which we can see at times but cannot touch. loading. SOFTWARE Software is the collection of programs in the computer. System software includes operating system and language translators or what we call compilers. Some operating systems include: a) MS-DOS [Microsoft Disk Operating System] 1 . namely: a) System software. b) Application software and c) Utility software System software These are programs that control the operations of any computer.

E. WordStar. E. MSWord. prepare financial reports or calculate scores for an examination report sheet in the school. b) Spreadsheet: We use spreadsheets to manage tables.11] For Work Groups) c) Windows 95 or 98 d) Windows 2000 Professional e) Windows ME (Millennium Edition) f) Windows XP (Windows Experience) Application software: These are programs that are designed to carry out specific tasks for us. Again.g. there are different types of application software namely: a) Word-processing: This software enables us to type letters. MSExcel. Windows WordPad and so on. MultiWrite. memos and documents. WordPerfect.b) WFWG (Windows [3. Application software is sometimes referred to as packages. Write. LOTUS 1-2-3 1 . Lotus AmiPro. FoxPro.g.

ADOBE PhotoShop. PRINTMASTER Gold Deluxe and so on. COREL DRAW 10. We have Anti-virus packages like Dr Solomon Virus Scan. Norton Utilities. NDD. There are also utility software that clears up the hard disks of nonsense files when the disk is nearly full.g. pictures and several beautiful designs with the computer. d) Database: This software allows the user to enter data such as the names of students in a school with their ages and classes and enables the user to retrieve such information at a later date. 1 . ADOBE Illustrator. UTILITY SOFTWARE This software takes care of the management and the security of the files inside the computer.c) Computer Graphic software: This makes it possible for the user to manipulate charts. E. McAfee.

It can be said to be the brain of the computer or the heart and so on. you remember) and the data that are stored in the main memory to perform. Parts of the CPU The CPU consists of the control unit and the ALU (which stands for Arithmetic/Logic unit). These include: 1 . These two work together using the program (instructions fed in by the programmer. b) ALU and c) Main memory Main Memory The main memory stores three items. Central Processing Unit This is the main control unit of the computer. Therefore the parts of the CPU include a) control unit.

c) the data. This 2 . Just as a house on a street has a unique address that shows the location on the street. The number that shows the location of a byte in memory is called a memory address Bit: is short form of binary digit.g. which is currently being processed by the application software What is Byte? What is Memory address? In the main memory. each byte in the main memory of a computer has an address that indicates its location in memory. Windows 95/98 or windows XP that directs and monitors the activities of the computer equipment. each location is called a byte.a) the operating system e. The computer basically understands only two things 1 and 0. b) the application software that will direct the work that is to be done by the user whether it to type a letter or design a card.

This is volatile in that whenever there is a power outage. 1000MB (that is one billion bytes) then it is called Gigabyte.in Mathematics is called number base two or binary scale. This is where the computer stores the program that it loads during booting (later on this course) and also 2 . Types of memory 1. Nibble: 4 bits make up a nibble Byte: 8 bits make up a byte or 2 nibbles make a byte 1024 bytes equal 1 kilobyte (KB) (However. this is often abbreviated to 1000 bytes. so we say that 1kB is equal to 1000 bytes instead of 1024 bytes) The size of main memory is normally measured in kilobytes. When memory exceeds 1000kB (1 million bytes). RAM – This stands for Random Access Memory. everything stored in the memory is wiped off. it is referred to in megabytes (MB).

PROM: This stands for programmable read-only memory. you cannot again change anything. before you save the work. for example. Here. you can be allowed to program what you want the computer to do but once this is done. ROM: This stands for read-only memory. ROM cannot be altered (changed) or modified like the RAM. These instructions enable the system (computer is also called system) to start up or boot. 3. This is made up of all the instructions that were stored in by the makers of the computer. the place that the computer temporarily stores the data that is being fed in. Saving is the act of transferring the work that you are doing to the hard disk where you can retrieve at a later time. Note that it is 2 . 2.

the computer is not ready for use yet and is said to be booting. it tests itself and loads the operating system into the main memory of the computer. you put off the monitor first before the CPU. When it is doing this. 2 . Cold Booting This occurs when the computer is switched on with the plugs correctly wedged into the socket in the mains. only in the PROM that this programming can be allowed not the ROM. i. you put on the CPU first before the monitor. 4. As a general rule. When you finish with the computer. EPROM: This stands for Erasable Programmable read-only memory 5. When you put on the computer. at shutdown. EEPROM: This stands for Electronically Erasable Programmable read-only memory What is booting? This is the initial start-up procedure of the computer.e.

AUXILIARY STORAGE DEVICES These are devices that store data or the output from the computer for later use. These keys are Control (Ctrl) key. one does not have to put off the computer before switching it on again..Warm Booting Warm booting means to reset the computer. To warm boot. you are warm booting the computer. Generally. while at the same time you use the right hand to hit the DEL key. In this case. It is suggested that using your left hands (for a right handed person) press CTRL and ALT keys together. Alternate (Alt) key and the Delete key (Del). we have the rigid and the removable auxiliary storage devices Types of Auxiliary Storage devices 1. three keys on the keyboard have to be pressed together. When you do this. Magnetic disk storage. 2 .

It is the most widely used storage medium for all types of computers. 2 . Magnetic tape.g. Since they are thin and flexible. CD-ROM (Compact disk- read-only memory) . e. smart cards and optical cards Of these types of storage devices. There are two sizes of diskettes: 3½” floppy disk and 5¼” floppy.CD-i(Compact disk- interactive). They are convenient. 5. 3.g. CD-R (Compact disk- recordable) . we will discuss only the magnetic disk storage. solid-state devices. Mass storage devices and 6. Special-purpose storage devices. e. CD-RW (Compact disk- rewritable) 4. Diskettes The removable type is called the diskette. reliable and inexpensive. floppies. Optical disks. they are sometimes called floppy disks or simply.2.

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Do not expose diskettes to hot places or high temperatures. 2. Avoid touching the magnetic medium with bare hands. 4. They should be prevented from direct sunlight.Care of diskettes 1. 2 . 3. Heavy objects should not be placed on top of diskettes.

Avoid bringing diskettes close to magnets or magnetic materials. Hard disk is completely sealed and therefore is less prone to damage. smoke or water Hard Disks This type of magnetic disk storage is rigid and is fixed inside the system unit. Example is Winchester® disk. 6. That explains why felt pens are recommended. Maxtor® disk and Seagate® disk.5. 7. The storage capacity of hard disks is measured in megabytes and more recently gigabytes (that is millions and billions of 2 . They should not be brought near dust. Do not press the diskettes with your biro pen or pencil when writing on the label. The hard disk itself consists of round metal platters on which the data are stored and the read- write head. Western Digital® disk. which is used to access the data that is sought.

There are also hard cards. it also poses the problem and possibility of accidentally removing or replacing the 2 . However. you must have to protect the data that you store on the disk from being lost.characters) of storage. This is clearly a desirable feature because we are afforded the privilege of replacing or removing unwanted files. They provide an easy way to expand the storage capacity of a personal computer Protecting data stored on a disk Regardless of whether you are using floppy disk or hard disks. The disk storage is re-usable since the stored data may be overwritten and replaced by new ones. This is just like you have 60-leave or 80-leave notebooks that will store more notes than the 40-leave notebooks. The hard card is a circuit board that has a hard disk built onto it. We also have removable hard disks especially in some notebook computers and these are used to ensure higher security of the stored data.

the drive will not write on the diskette or floppy disk. If the write- protect notch is closed however it means that the drive can write or copy something on the diskette. to prevent writing to a diskette. we may: a) Write-protect the diskette: This is done by using the write-protect notch that is located at the lower side of the diskette.file that we wanted to keep. you will have to move a plastic cover to open the window. This simply means creating a copy of important programs and data on one diskette to another diskette. The 3 . Once again. b) Back-up storage: Another good way to protect our programs or data stored on disks is by creating back-up storage. Therefore. if the window is open. to protect programs and data stored on disks. So.

diskette is equally a convenient medium that is used to back up the data stored on a hard disk of a personal computer. Usually. When the host program (that is the program with the virus) is shared. Today. we now have recordable and rewritable compact disks that can store the entire contents of a hard disk as a back-up storage. As the host program is copied to friends through diskettes. virus can do such things as change programs or destroy data. COMPUTER VIRUS A computer virus is a computer code or program that is capable of replicating itself and transferring itself from one computer system to another. This is made possible by the use of CD-Writers. bulletin boards and other usual 3 . the virus is spread. the INTERNET. They may even at times format the entire hard disk or blow up a monitor or disable a printer.

They are not detected immediately. Some of them are like time bombs waiting for particular date to do their havoc.opey97 Howlen Croween B Klein Jerusalem virus Holy Moses 3 . the virus is also copied along. It infects the software with which it comes in contact. Major kinds of computer virus include Boot sector viruses (that prevent the computer from booting properly).channels. anti-CMOS viruses and Trojan horses. Examples of computer virus December 13 Polyboot A eek80 virus Black Jesus WM. There are over 9000 viruses known and continue to increase by day and with the advent of the INTERNET even by the minute. People who copy the host software are unaware that the virus exist because it is coded in such a way as to hide from computer users for weeks or even months.

we use the antiviruses such as Dr Solomon AntiVirus kit.To neutralize the codes of the viruses. HOW TO AVOID COMPUTER VIRUS These are some techniques to at least minimize viruses and their damaging effects: • The computer should be warm booted when switching suspicious programs or applications. • In using the INTERNET and bulletin board service. • Write-protect your diskettes when they are to be inserted into suspicious computer systems • Always use Antivirus to scan any suspicious diskettes before opening any file inside them. open e-mail accounts with servers 3 . Antiviruses have to be regularly updated if they are to be effective. Norton AntiVirus. McAfee Virus Scan among others.

that provide antivirus software that will scan all incoming mails. 3 . Use only registered and licensed software and avoid tolerating diskettes from unknown sources from being inserted into your system. • Do not open or download any e-mail attachments from unknown sources until they are scanned. There fore the best method is to perhaps avoid swapping. they cannot be total guarantee that your system or diskette could be virus-free when you engage in swapping (that is copying software). Even when these tips are followed.

For computers to ‘see’ each other on a network. they have to follow the same set of rules. they are said to form a network. commands or configurations called protocol Examples of protocols: a) FTP File transfer protocol b) TCP/IP Transfer control protocol/Internet or Intranet protocol c) NetBEUI British standard protocol d) WAP Wireless Applications protocol e) HTTP hyper text transfer 3 . NETWORK When two or more computers are connected together.

protocol. computers connected together are in wide geographical area like different cities or even countries. What is Server? 3 . Types of Network There are two major kinds of network based on the geographical distribution of the computers: a) Local Area Network (LAN) and b) Wide Area Network (WAN) Local Area Network: This is when the computers are connected together within the same area such as building or campus Wide Area Network: In this type of network. The INTERNET is a good example of WAN.

which is the set of rules and regulations governing the exchange of information between computers in a network. a server is the network control unit that is dedicated to handling the communicating needs of the other computers in a network. Note that they have to have the same protocol.What is Client? Networking is very advantageous for file sharing as well as resource sharing. Now. These other computers are referred to as clients. When computers are networked. 3 . All you have to do is buy a single printer for all of them to share. you wouldn’t have to buy separate printers for each of them.

Wires and cables are used. Using LAN. NETWORK TOPOLOGY Network topology describes the configuration or physical layout of the equipment (such as computers and 3 . VSAT (very small aperture terminals) has largely improved the efficiency of Wide Area networks in both Intranet and INTERNET access. although wireless systems such as light beams. a printer has to be connected to the server.Whatever is to be shared among the computers in such a network. communication channels are very essential. all the computers and the server can use the printer. radio waves or carrier-connect radio are now prevalent. In a network. say.

Nodes: Devices connected to a network. printers or other computers are referred to as nodes.peripherals) in a communications network. 3 . Bridge: is a combination of hardware and software that is used to connect similar networks. such as terminals. Types a) star network b) bus network c) ring network Gateway: is a combination of both hardware and software that allow users on one network to access the resources on a different type of network.

4 . 16-port hubs and so on.port. We have 9.Hub: This is a device that connects all the workstations or client computers in a network to the server.

a French silk weaver called Joseph-Marie Jacquard invented a way of automatically controlling the warp and weft threads on a silk loom by recording patterns of holes in a string of cards. variations on Jacquard’s punched cards would find a variety of uses. including representing the music to be played by automated pianos and the storing of programs for computers IBM 80-column punched card format. See also: Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine & Herman Hollerith’s tabulating machines 4 . ADVANCED ESSAYS 1800 AD Jacquard's Punched Cards 1800 AD Jacquard’s Punched Cards In the early 1800s. In the years to come.

there was no chance of collating the that the census of 1890 would be data from the 1890 census into any useful form until required to handle data from more well after the 1900 census had taken place. by than 62 million Americans. which time the 1890 data would be of little value. a The solution to this problem was developed during the 1880s by an American inventor called Herman Hollerith. if the system remained previous surveys. it was estimated unchanged. 1890 AD Herman Hollerith's Tabulating Machines It is often said that necessity is In addition to being prohibitively expensive. and this was existing system of making tally marks in small certainly true in the case of the squares on rolls of paper and then adding the marks American census. the the mother of invention. a 4 . and to then read and collate this data using an automatic machine. whose idea it was to use Jacquard's punched cards to represent the census data. Following the together by hand was extremely time consuming. In population trends established by fact it was determined that.

4 . marital status. Herman Hollerith Copyright (c) 1997. such as profession. operators could instruct the machine to examine each card for certain characteristics. By means of switches. where each card was intended to contain the data associated with a particular individual. a Hollerith's final system included an automatic electrical tabulating machine with a large number of clock-like counters that accumulated the results.While he was a lecturer at MIT. Hollerith developed a simple prototype which employed cards he punched using a tram conductor's ticket punch. number of children. From this prototype. Maxfield & Montrose Interactive Inc. and so on. he evolved a mechanism that could read the presence or absence of holes in the cards by using spring- mounted nails that passed through the holes to make electrical connections.

possible to extract information such as the and some of the techniques they used number of engineers living in a particular state were to be significant in the who owned their own house and were married development of the digital computer. In with two children. Hollerith's machines proved mechanism could gather those cards into a themselves to be extremely useful for a separate container. having this capability was sufficient to changed its name to International drive the statisticians of the time into a frenzy of Business Machines. Thus. Although this may not tickle February 1924. Hollerith's punched cards.) a These notes are abstracted from the book Bebop BYTES Back (An Unconventional Guide to Computers) Copyright Information 4 . Hollerith's company your fancy. (See also excitement and data collation.a When a card was detected that met the In addition to solving the census specified criteria. for the first time it was wide variety of statistical applications. or IBM. an electrically controlled sorting problem.