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INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS &
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Objectives :
This chapter will introduce us to the following concepts :
History of Computers
Basics of Computers
Generations of Computers
Different Types of Computers
Various Components of Computers
2 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology
UNIT - I
INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Information technology is a field that has revolutionized our lives. In fact, it is so popular that a good number of news papers and news magazines now devote an entire section to information technology. The popular media very commonly carries news related to the internet, information superhighway, multimedia, etc. There has been a big change on the information technology scene. Some time back, mechanical and electrical devices were used in processing information – calculators, typewriters, telephones, etc. These were stand-alone devices, not directly connected to one another. Here is a hypothetical description of how the information might have been processed in those days : 1. calculators were used to calculate the results and different figures. 2. typewriters were used to create documents based on these figures. 3. telephones were used to provide this information to other branches. The employees had to be physically present near the phone for this step. If they were unavailable, this information could not be transferred from one branch to another. 4. a copy of the document was sent through post/courier. Mailing was only in the printed form. One look at the scene described above will tell us that multiple machines -- calculators, typewriters, photocopiers, telephones -- and multiple employees are required for this task: one employee for
calculations, one for typing, another one for making a copy, another employee for making a phone call, one for receiving a phone call. If we look at the scenario today, there is a big change : there is none of this mechanical work involved in processing information. Almost all the players involved in the information processing are inter-connected and electronic. Here is a description of how the information is being processed today :
Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 3 1. computers are used to calculate the results and different figures. 2. the same computers are used to create documents based on these figures. 3. the same computers are used to provide this information to computers at other branches. For this, the telephone lines can be used as the media. The employees do not have to be physically present near the phone for this step. Even if they are unavailable, this information can be transferred from one branch to another. 4. an e-mail (electronic mail) can be sent to other branches for sharing the information. Mailing has changed from the printed form to the electronic form. One of the biggest changes in the previous situation and the current situation is the fact that multiple machines and multiple employees are not required for this information processing. A single computer will be needed to do the calculations, prepare the report, send the report through e-mail. Also, a single employee can complete all of these tasks on the computer. If we continue further, with automation, we don’t even need a single employee to operate the computer. With networking and automation in place, all the computers can process data and share information without a single human typing a single letter. For example, we can program a computer to start working at a fixed time every day to do the following tasks, in order : 1. collect data from different files. 2. organize the data. 3. prepare reports based on the data. 4. Exchange the data with other computers on the network. Thus, every step is automated, which means that the possibility of human errors will be minimal, and work will go on with a high level of efficiency. Today, with a set-top box, we can browse the internet on our TV set. This is the power of information technology, which is integrating diverse technologies and equipments -- televisions, computers, telephones -- into a single unit. The newer catchy terms such as ‘information age’ and ‘information society’ only highlight the increasing role information technology is playing in our personal and professional lives.
2 HISTORY OF COMPUTERS 1. The name of the state giving the highest sales. thus generating the merit list for the class. For example. We can say that. storage. especially to industrial or commercial objectives. Today. making it more useful and more attractive. All of this information is made available just by pressing a few buttons. 3. the Computer has become an inseparable part of the commercial as well as the academic field. we can look at information technology from 3 perspectives : 1. For example. Formatting the information. This power of the Computer is being made use of the world over. 1. totaling the individual marks of a student to get the percentage marks. At a similar level. we can define information technology as “the creation.4 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1. 2. Using a computer we can obtain far better results with our data. and delivery of information.” In fact. to find the cumulative average. in the use of Computers. processing. information means “the act of informing or the condition of being informed. Processing raw data into information.1 ABACUS . data analysis has become more important than mere computing. The name of the maximum-selling product The name of the salesman with the highest sales figures. technology means “the application of science. For example. Recycle processed information and use it as data in another step.” Combining the 2 terms. adding the percentage of the previous exam to the current exam’s percentage. the communication of knowledge”. such as : • • • • Average sales for the past 6 months.2.1 WHAT IS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Going by the dictionary. presenting the percent marks of the students in a decreasing order.
in 1642. . It has 4 stacks : basically it has 2 stacked abaci (one on top of the other). 1. they are still considered very fast. The Chinese and the Egyptians both claim to be inventors of this device. subtraction and multiplication using a series of gears (8 rotating wheels). where kindergarten students use it for learning numbers. These beads are used for the calculations such as addition. Figure 1.2 BLAISE PASCAL (1623-62) A French mathematician. This design makes multiplication and divison easier. etc.2. The abacus of today has been invented by Lee Kai-Chen.1 The Abacus Abacus is a Latin word which has originated from the Greek word “abax”.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 5 This is probably the oldest calculating device known to man. counting. who developed a device called the “Pascal’s Calculating Machine”. Though they appear very primitive. subtraction. mentioned in a manual published in 1958. This was the first real mechanical calculator. The Chinese and the Japanese are using it even today. etc. which means a "table" or "tablet". It consists of some bars with beads on them. The same principle is used today in the speedometers of cars. It performed the operations of addition. as also square and cube root. addition. The Abacus can be seen very commonly in schools.
designing for cloth and carpets became automatic. such as branching and looping. In 1790 he was given a 50 year old loom for repairing.000 power-looms being used in Britain. multiply.5 CHARLES BABBAGE He is known as the father of computers.2. This was the first device that was similar to the Computers we see today. and also calculate square roots.4 JOSEPH JAQUARD (1752-1834) Joseph Jacquard was the son of a silk weaver. Thus. In 1979. This machine was also intended to employ several features of modern computers. In 1801 he constructed a loom that used a series of punched cards to control the pattern being made through the loom on the cloth. Babbage proposed the Difference Engine to automatically calculate mathematical tables. . By 1812 there were 11. subtract. This calculator could make decisions based on results of previous computations. a modern programming language was named ADA in her honour.2. divide. By 1833 there were about 100. Jacquard’s loom saw a big demand growth in the 1820s in Britain. 1. Lady Augusta Ada Lovelace wrote a program for the Analytical Engine. Using this mechanism. Working on this loom got him interested in the mechanization of silk manufacture. Later on.3 LIEBNITZ He developed a machine in 1671. In 1822. he also proposed an Analytical Engine by using Jacquard's punched cards.6 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1.000 Jacquard looms working in France. that could add. At first Jacquard's looms were destroyed by weavers who feared unemployment. Jacquard later developed a machine where the punched cards were joined to form an endless loop.2. 1. she is considered as the first computer programmer of the world.
Metcalfe developed the concept of a record.6 METCALFE Lieutenant Henry Metcalfe was reorganizing the cost-accounting system of his arsenal. Hollerith's machines proved themselves to be extremely useful for a wide variety of statistical applications.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 7 1. and some of the techniques they used were to be significant in the development of the digital computer. or IBM. retrieving data and producing reports was very tiring and very tough. For this reason. A similar system is followed by the computerized information systems today. and manipulating became easier compared to the ledgers.7 HERMAN HOLLERITH The American inventor Herman Hollerith is considered as the first one to use punched cards for data processing. He found that records were kept in ledgers by the department. Figure 1. He followed the system followed by librarians and transferred some records from ledgers to cards.sorting. summarizing. In February 1924.2. These cards were easy to manage -. Hollerith's company changed its name to International Business Machines. followed even today.2 IBM 80-column punched card format .2. 1.
. However. on-off. true-false. Just as we can use the computer for calculations.8 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1. allow the computer to execute its operations using binary language.using microchips that contain thousands of tiny electronic switches arranged into logical ‘gates’ that produce predictable and reliable conclusions. Today. OR and NOT. as well. which means “to calculate”. the values of 0s are related with false statements and 1s with the true ones. came into being. invented by Boole. the computer can compare numbers.the now famous yes-no. when used in differing combinations. processing only two objects -. we can use the calculator for calculations. sometimes known as Boolean logic. all the computers employ Boole's logic system .3 COMPUTER The word “Computer” has been derived from the word “Compute”. zero-one approach. we can program a computer according to our needs. For instance.2. This technique of mathematics. 1. Boolean algebra. the computer is not just a calculating machine. George Boole had no formal school education!! With George Boole's Mathematical Analysis and Investigation. finding the highest or the lowest of a series of numbers. Another common electronic device we use for calculations is the calculator. there are a number of differences between a computer and a calculator : • • • the computer can record our data on a permanent basis.8 GEORGE BOOLE (1815-64) The Boolean algebra developed in the 19th century removed the numbers-alone limitation for these counting devices. helped correlate the binary digits with our language. These gates. which is not possible in a calculator. However. which is not possible in a calculator. Boole's system was based on a binary approach. The basic logic gates comprise of AND. which cannot be done in a calculator.
even though the term “computer” suggests a calculating device. A computer is an electronic device which can accept data. is called as data. as we have just seen.. . The result of the calculation is the information. 1.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 9 These are some of the capabilities which differentiate a computer from a calculator. or even sound. 5. For example. the numbers represent the data. It can also perform non-mathematical operations. the system accepts an input. For example. Thus.6 are the data. It need not be used for simple maths alone. alphabets. That is. 15.P. store the data and process the data to give us some meaningful information. images. dates. if we enter 3 numbers to be added up by a program. Bhoj (Open) University can be represented as follows : INPUT Untrained students PROCESS Students attend lectures. seminars. and gives us some output.3 Explanation of a system A computer system also follows this input → process → output cycle. The data could be in the form of numbers. the calculation of the sum is the process. and 6 for adding up : • • • the 3 numbers 4. the education system at M. Every item that we enter into the computer. Suppose we entered the numbers 4. The actual result. i. This is true for any system however big or small. The internal calculations that are involved in getting the sum are the process. for storing and for processing later on. processes the input.e. the computer is much more than that.5. is the information. OUTPUT Trained students Figure 1.4 WHAT IS A COMPUTER SYSTEM Any system works on the simple concept of input → process → output.
the buyer must be aware of the features it offers. Only then can we understand the machine. we can go down to measuring in seconds. whether big or small : • Speed : As human beings we are used to measuring time in hours. This calculation can be performed in just over 1 second by a Computer. which is very rare though. the speed is measured in fractions of a second. we might take over a minute for the calculation. The computers of today can perform over 100 million calculations per second. and results can be displayed in a really-really short time. The computer. since the speed of a computer is measured in pico seconds today. Even a second becomes a very high time measure for a computer. if we try to multiply the number 1234567. Here are the various units of speed in the world of computers : Unit MilliSecond MicroSecond NanoSecond PicoSecond Meaning one thousandth of a second one millionth of a second one billionth of a second one trillionth of a second Table 1.34.1 Computer Speed Units As we can see. In some cases. the “second” becomes a practical limit for most of the human beings.5 CHARACTERISTICS OF COMPUTERS Just as for any equipment. stored. In the computer. a pico second is one trillionth of a second!! This is the speed at which computers work today.3456 with 567. manipulated. 1.5. though. or may be minutes. The data can be collected. For example. Mostly.1 CAPABILITIES OF COMPUTERS Here are characteristics common to most of the computer systems. is a really fast machine. .10 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1.
it can be accessed anytime. such as : • • • programming errors. or MIPS. it is known as downtime. the backup computers take over the task of the main computers. backup computers are provided in places where computers are performing a very vital central role. or he might type the wrong address of a customer. a bank employee might enter a wrong rate of interest for a fixed deposit. These errors are due to some other reason. the industry has developed the criteria of million instructions per second. many of the mistakes made by computers are not really computer mistakes. • Accuracy : Computers do not make mistakes everytime. When the computer system goes out of order. all computer users try to keep the downtime as low as possible. a speed of 5 MIPS means that the computer can process 5 million instructions in a second!! • Reliability : Computers always offer very high reliability levels.99%. However. For example. Just a few buttons need to be . with computers the minimum of reliability expected is 99. For this. In fact. Thus. The computer can work for hours continuously and still it does not get tired. Naturally. This is a big difference between a computer and a human being.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 11 To mark the speed at which the computers operate. Once the data is properly stored. Once the main computers become faulty. wrong data entered by the user. • Storage : The ability of the computer systems to store data is an major advantage. and work goes on as usual. wrong procedures followed by the users. we will conveniently blame the computer for the errors. and from anywhere. which will give wrong results. In fact. Regular and preventive maintenance is needed to keep the computers operating at their fullest efficiency.
the data can only be seen by people who are trained to operate the computer. though. an untrained person will never be able to see the data stored in the computer. whereas a computer cannot do so. 1. there might be some rare situations which we . Hence. some of which are summarized below : • No wisdom or practical knowledge : Computers can work fast and accurately. They cannot act with wisdom or act through practical awareness. the security can be increased even further. Even if the computer is on. The computer will say that -15 is the lower age. However. Suppose we give the age of 2 persons to the computer as 20 years and -15 years and ask the computer to identify the person with the lower age. In a simple paper file. the data can be easily seen by anyone with access to the file. we have to understand that the use of computers has its own share of problems. a human being will easily understand that the value of -15 years is not the right value for an age.12 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology pressed. or even seconds.5. it is all fine. it has no such thing as ‘experience’. • Reliable programs : Everything in a computerized operation depends on the correctness of the program which is running the computer and getting the task done. In a computer. If the program is well-planned and gives the desired results. but only on the basis of our instructions. it has no life. and if proper measures and procedures are followed. • No senses : A computer is a ‘dead’ thing. just a few commands need to be given : and information is available in a few minutes.2 LIMITATIONS OF COMPUTERS For all the benefits just discussed. Human beings can take some decisions based on experience and senses. • Security : The data entered in a computer is quite safe. However.
Playing chess... In such a situation.6 TYPES OF COMPUTERS We can classify computers based on different criteria. • Clearly defined logic : The computer performs tasks which can be expressed in the form of a finite (limited) number of steps for achieving the desired objective.. 1..- Think and say in what areas can a computer do a better job than you and why :- • • • • • Welding jobs. the task can never be done by the computer.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 13 have not planned for..... our program might give some errors. The computer always needs a series of clearly-defined and definite number of steps.MENTAL EXERCISE . This can lead to situations where we will get very odd results. each and every step must be explicitly (clearly) stated.. such as : • • Technology Usage . Solving the mathematics question paper. Even if a program has run properly for years.. . there can still be some unforeseen situations for which provision has not been made in the software. the computer can never be programmed in advance to take any actions. If a particular task cannot be stated in clear terms. If these steps cannot be properly defined. Heating the food everyday at 8:30 PM.. Of course... Door-to-door selling of goods.
1. based on Analog signals TIP : Analog computers ‘measure’ values. A simple thermometer is another example of an analog device : we can see all the values from 96 (approximately) to 107 (approximately) at any point of time. As an example. Of course. only one temperature value will be ‘actually selected’ at any point of time – 98. 99. in analog representations. As another example. it not only touches the numbers 1 through 12. This is because the hands of the watch move continuously around the clock face. In other words. but also the infinite number of points in between. only one value will be shown selected at any point of time. we work with a range of values.4.1 CLASSIFICATION BASED ON TECHNOLOGY 1. As the minute hand goes around. within which we can cover the entire range. watches with hands are analog.1 Analog Computers Analog representations have the prime feature that they are continuous.6.4 An Oscilloscope. Figure 1. . or any other value for that matter.6. However.14 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology • Size and Capacity 1. which works through analog signals. we see an oscilloscope in the next figure. 100.
5 A digital watch . The major advantage offered by analog computers is speed.1.2 Digital Computers Unlike analog signals. Here. TIP : Digital computers ‘count’ values. though the entire range is not visible on the digital thermometer. Analog computers are considered outdated by most of the experts. The digital watches are called digital because they go from one value to the next without displaying all intermediate values. Contrast this with the way the analog watches show values. we can only see the current temperature of the object. 1.6. Consequently. they can display only a finite number of times of the day. The digital thermometer we see today is also based on digital representations. However. digital representations consist of values measured at discrete intervals. The main advantage offered by digital computers is accuracy. almost all computers are digital. Figure 1. their accuracy and reliability were not good enough.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 15 The early attempts at building computers used analog techniques. Today.
data processing. even though the user is working on just a computerized model of it. This data could be.2 Special Purpose Computers As the name suggests. for instance. In hybrid computers.1 General Computers These are the computers we come across most of the time.2 CLASSIFICATION BASED ON APPLICATIONS 1. In a sense.word processing.6. thus.1.2.2. 1. the computers being used by the students for their studies.6. A simulator also gives an ‘impression’ of working on the real thing. The computers used in most of the common applications . the word simulation means ‘to copy something. According to the dictionary.16 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1.. the stored data (digital) is used for generating some reports for the senior management of the company. etc – come under this category.6. The common PC we see in many offices. all belong to the group known as general computers. this group of computers is meant to serve a very special role. generation of reports.3 Hybrid These are cases where we see the a mix of the 2 types – analog and digital. to give an impression of reality’. the hybrid computers combine the best features of both the technologies – the speed of analog computers and the accuracy of digital computers. the temperature of the furnace in the production unit of a company. It is a computer that can create an impression of working on some real-life object. It is. not meant for the common computerized activities. the data collected through measurements (analog) is stored and analyzed by the computer.6. . A common example of such a computer is a simulator. Later on. The user working on a simulator feels as if he/she is working on the real thing. etc. 1.
etc. they can be used for special training. all imitate a real plane. word processing. etc. cannot be used for any other purpose. . and they are to be used in the same manner. such as training pilots on flying an airplane.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 17 Based on this feature. Then the pilot’s response is tested. he will experience an environment exactly as he would in a plane – the controls of the plane.G. They are meant for achieving a specific goal. Figure 1. this type of a training is very safe and very economical. the central patient monitoring unit.C. The real-life training on the plane can be combined with the training on a flight simulator. When the pilot sits inside the flight simulator. such as data processing. the cockpit. what the pilot might be seeing in day-to-day operations. etc. obviously. monitors. Obviously. These computers. The computer-generated graphics appearing on the ‘cockpit’ of the simulator offer different situations.6 A Flight Simulator The special patient monitoring equipment we see in the intensive care unit of a hospital is also another example of a special-purpose computer – the E. through the different airplane-like controls and levers present around the pilot. all come under this category.
The micro computers are also the same. Initially. When we refer to micro computers. micro-scope. IBM (International Business Machines) of USA launched its PC in 1981.7 A Cardiac Monitor 1.3. when micro computers were the smallest available computers. Of course.1 Micro Computer The word “micro” denotes something related to objects which are very small. we are essentially referring to computers that can fit on the top of a desk. They .3 CLASSIFICATION BASED ON SIZE AND CAPACITY 1.6.6. The PCs were called so because they were used more by individuals than by the companies. This group includes the PC. This term “micro computers” was coined a few years back. and the Apple computers. This group represents the smaller of the computer systems we come across. though the PC revolution was started by Apple Computers of USA. such as the laptop computers.18 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology Figure 1. today we have computers even smaller than the micro computers. or the Personal Computers. such as the microorganisms. the Desktop Computers. etc. the microcomputers were more of dumb machines.
It is being used just because of historical reasons and because of habit. with the launch of the microprocessors. The microprocessors are present in the small PCs and also in the highest-end supercomputers.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 19 did not have too much of processing power and were attached to bigger mini computers or the huge mainframes. In fact. Key Board Mouse Figure 1. From the view point of size and power.U . the distinction between the small minicomputers and workstations has also become less clear.3.P. minicomputers lie between the workstations and the mainframes. The AS/400 from IBM is a popular mini computer. Digital Equipment Corporation of USA was a leading player in this field. Hence. . the concept of a microcomputer has changed.8 A Personal Computer It is important to remember that. 1. the term microcomputer has become outdated from today’s perspective. With the rapidly rising power and falling prices of microcomputers.2 Mini Computer A minicomputer is basically a mid-sized computer. In the recent years. the market for the minicomputers category has shrunk a lot in size. For this reason. But in general.6. Screen C. a minicomputer is a multiprocessing system which can provide support for 4 to 200 users simultaneously. with its VAX range of minicomputers. the distinction between large minicomputers and small mainframes has become less clear. micro does not really mean a small computer.
The mainframes appear just below supercomputers in terms of capacity.3.3 MainFrame Computer These computers are very large and they are expensive.6. They are used by the very big corporations for centralized business functions such as inventory control. or even thousands.9 A MiniComputer 1. In the late . of users. etc. They are capable of supporting hundreds. all at the same time. Some big web sites running today are running through mainframes.20 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology Figure 1. accounting.
This is because they can execute more simultaneous programs.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 21 1970s. mainframes can be considered as more powerful than supercomputers.4 SuperComputer These are the fastest type of computers.10 A Mainframe Installation In some ways. Figure 1. But supercomputers can execute a single program faster than a mainframe. 1.6. This means that a . The operating system required for a mainframe is approximately 14GB in size. They are very expensive and are employed for specialized applications where immense amounts of mathematical calculations are involved. most of the computing power of the world was created by Mainframes.3.
are ideal cases for using a supercomputer. and also aerospace design.11 A Super Computer .22 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology supercomputer is not a general-purpose computer. we need a supercomputer. motivated by the arms race between the USA and USSR. When building systems that can handle complex scientific and engineering problems using floating-point calculations. Figure 1. Other uses of supercomputers include nuclear energy research. animated graphics. a supercomputer is used for weather forecasting. Applications where hugely complex and very large calculations are involved. petroleum exploration. Speaking of the specialized applications.
can be performed by this supercomputer in 1 second. Thus. trying to ascertain important trends through data-mining. through the C-DAC (Center for the Development of Advanced Computing). Interestingly.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 23 On an average. with all the people working for 125 years using calculators. used for weather forecasting. It had up to four custom vector processors to divide and conquer the computing jobs. In general. and a ‘nuclear test’ is over. They can check on the credit histories of clients within just a few seconds. much faster than the competition. the X-MP series costs between $2. analyzed and transformed into useful information. For weather forecasting.5 million to $16 million. India too has developed a supercomputer.000 processors doing 7. The supercomputer analyses this data and generates the picture related to the weather that we commonly see on TV. depending on the hardware configuration. USA. The first Cray-1 supercomputer was shipped to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. they can launch models which are new and reliable. the data being sent by the weather satellites is collected by the base stations and sent to the supercomputer for analysis. and has definitely made all of us Indians proud. Intel has developed a supercomputer performing 1 trillion operations a second. it does not have to carry out a nuclear explosion physically. Peripherals with high-performance (and a high price-tag too) handle the supercomputer's I/O demands. which are very heavy. Just a few buttons are pressed on the supercomputer. It has 7. in the real world. The task of the entire USA population. .000 calculations at a time. This system could deliver a peak of 941 MFLOPS. in 1976. Car manufacturers can simulate (imitate) crashes of prototypes (rough approximation of the original) on the supercomputer. Big retailers browse through gigabytes of bills. This way. the USA is using IBM’s big blue series of supercomputers to simulate a nuclear explosion in a laboratory. sitting in a laboratory! The data accumulated over the duration of the test can then be collected.2 million. India uses a CRAY XMP supercomputer for weather forecasting. a supercomputer will be costing over $ 100. Banks use supercomputers for dealing with thousands of on-line transactions. In fact. This helps to reduce the very high costs and risks involved in drilling oil wells.000. It had a peak speed of 167 MFLOPS and price between $4 million to $11. The computer is named ‘PARAM’. Oil companies can improve their accuracy in finding future oil and gas reserves by processing seismic data and simulating (imitating) reservoir flow.
000 vacuum tubes. The ENIAC measured 30 x 30 feet.24 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1. No official reports or minutes of the meeting were published. 1.7 GENERATIONS OF COMPUTERS In the computer world. and weighed 30 tons. the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer)." It was a document purely reflecting his thoughts on the topic. Characteristics : Vacuum tubes used in computers for the 1st time. But Herman Goldstine widely circulated the document. The highly skilled mathematician. we measure technological advancement by generations. New Jersey and the Los Alamos Project and participated in the Moore School discussions regarding the EDVAC design. thus. EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) and EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator). • • . With a continued decrease in size.7." Each generation indicates a significant change in computer design. about the size of a room. Other important members of this generation were UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer). IBM-650. In 1944 von Neumann took time off from his work at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. placing the knowledge in the public domain. the speed. With each new generation. used to represent the different stages of computer technology. John von Neumann. built at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946 was the first computer of this generation.1 First Generation : 1946-1958 According to scientists. The computers were very big in size. It refers to the state of improvement in the development of a product. Instead. This term is. the circuitry has become smaller and more advanced than the previous generation. produced the best formal description of a stored program computer. power. A specific system is said to belong to a specific "generation. Von Neumann independently drafted a report titled the "First Draft Report of the Edvac Design. and memory of computers has proportionately increased. It had approximately 18.
• • • • • • • 1.) was the biggest marker of this generation. etc were used. and CDC-1604. This increased the reliability of the computers even further. Examples of computers of this generation were HoneyWell-200. FORTRAN. Characteristics : Transistors used in computers for the 1st time.S. Required high maintenance.C.2 Second Generation : 1959-64 Around 1960 the transistor was invented. It performed the same role as a vacuum tube.7. is the outcome of Large Scale Integration (L. Required lesser maintenance compared to the 1st generation. was required. More reliable compared to the 1st generation.I.7.C.).C. The computers were smaller in size compared to the 1st generation. 1. Constant A. Examples are IBM-350. Memory was higher compared to the 1st generation. these computers were smaller. Languages such as COBOL. less expensive. NCR-365. wherein a large number of transistors are tightly packed on a single chip. Thus. since the vacuum tubes emitted a lot of heat. . Not very reliable.3 Third Generation : 1965-70 The development of the integrated circuits (I. This greatly increases the power of a single computer and lowers its cost considerably.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 25 • • • • Memory was very less. but the size was much smaller. etc. The I. and needed less of cooling compared to the 1st generation. Emitted less heat compared to the 1st generation. IBM-1401.
Highly reliable computers. More reliable compared to the 2nd generation. Characteristics : Microprocessors used in computers for the 1st time. The computers were smaller in size compared to the 2nd generation.? This generation made use of the Microprocessor. Memory capacity was quite high. Emitted less heat compared to the previous 2 generations. Minimum maintenance was required. Required lesser maintenance compared to the previous 2 generations. Memory was higher compared to the previous generations. • • • • • • • The following table sums up the landmarks and differences between the first four computer generations : . The microprocessor was the result of VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration). The computers were smaller in size compared to the 2nd generation. Operating System was used. • • • • • • • • 1. 4th generation languages were used. wherein the circuitry got even smaller and compact than before. Miniaturization lead to the development of the IBM P. High-Level Languages were used. By putting millions of transistors onto one single chip more calculation and faster speeds could be reached by computers.4 Fourth Generation : 1971 .7.C.26 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology Characteristics : Integrated Circuits used in computers for the 1st time.
Each generation had a very clear marker. ICs and then microprocessors. This is not true for the 5th generation. The software will search its knowledge base and provide answers to the questions. Some of the landmarks of this so-called 5th generation are : • Expert Systems : These come under the area of Artificial intelligence. some people even argue that there is no 5th generation of computers. we don’t have any big jump. . This way.5 Fifth Generation A lot of technical advancement took place in the 4th generation. even though he himself is not having full knowledge of the subject. the untrained person will begin to understand the subject. as such.2 : Comparison of Computer Generations Generation 1 st Landmark Vacuum Tubes Memory Magnetic Drum Speed Milli seconds Languages Machine Heat Excess 2 nd Transistors Magnetic storage core Micro seconds Nano Assembly Lesser 3 rd Integrated Circuits Increased magnetic storage core High level Still Lesser seconds 4 th Microprocessor Semiconductor Pico seconds 4th generation Least 1.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 27 Table 1. An ordinary individual. who is not an expert in that field. For this reason. Gradually. will keep asking questions to the software.7. In the 5th generation. transistors. In this kind of a software. the knowledge base of subject experts of a field is maintained in a computer. All of the computer generations all have progressed through very clearly defined steps : bulbs. the user can get an expert’s view of the subject.
One of the technologies helping in this field is WAP (Wireless Access Protocol). mobile phones. which was so far not seen in the common computers. NiMH cells are also available. Their size is as small as 52 x 52 cms. • Data Warehousing : Big-big corporations usually have crores of records stored with them. • Customer Relationship Management : The software helps the companies to meet their specific requirements with regard to customers. laptops. This software helps provide extra information to the company about its customers. just as the human brain. and even in analyzing the trends of the stock markets. technology and a specific strategy for a successful implementation. Today we can see computers which can fit in our hands. in the maintenance of aircraft engines. These systems have the power of learning from experience. and even PDAs are being used for computing related needs. true/false concept of Computers. researchers are creating systems which can think and learn. the first of its kind. CLIPS (C Language Integrated Production Systems) developed by NASA of USA is a good tool for developing expert systems. and newer trends or habits of customers can be . Specialized CRM software helps in making call centers more efficient and effective. such as oil exploration. LISP is a language commonly used for developing expert systems. • Mobile computing : The world is going smaller and smaller. it is not just a technology but it is a complete process as well. space research. • Newer energy options : New sources of energy are being developed for the P. Thus. • Neural Networks : These also come under the area of Artificial intelligence. It needs both. Data warehousing is used to work on these records. etc. The small sized direct methanol fuel cell. Among other options. Today.28 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology Expert systems are available today for different fields. these systems are going beyond the traditional on/off. In this. Thus. These type of systems are used in banks for identifying signatures. Intel and AMD have launched specila processors for mobile devices.C. can run about five hours on a single fuel cartridge.
we can view our Email on our TV. Basically. Newer versions of DBMSs such as Oracle. the different departments of companies are involved in their own tasks. unlike the big machines of the earlier days used mainly by the big corporations. SQL Server. This way. Normally. This is possible though a set-top box. With ERP. data warehousing can give us results far beyond our expectations. • Web TV – With advances in technology. it passes through a series of steps in different departments. and money. 1. a Set-Top box can receive both internet and TV signals.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 29 determined based on these exercises.8 PERSONAL COMPUTERS The PCs are small computers designed mainly for use by individuals. we can see how the Computer has progressed over the years. . we can even use the TV for browsing the Internet. SAP. efforts. These advances have helped it to bring about a revolution in the field of Information Technology. when a customer places an order. It involves some very complex and big tasks. Oracle are some big ERP software manufacturing companies. etc. • Enterprise Resource Planning : This task is carried out primarily at the very big companies/institutions. It helps a television set to become a window to the Internet. This unnecessary repetition will waste a lot of time. all have built-in provisions for data warehousing. ERP helps to integrate all these different departments and they operate through a single database. anytime. This way. JD Edwards. this waste will be eliminated. Thus. and the total cost of implementation runs into crores of rupees. Any sales order can now be traced from anywhere. Usually. and each department makes its own entry related to the sale.
This means that IBM designed and created the very first PC. This power was good enough for the simple needs of the individual user. the big minicomputers and mainframes were attached to a number of terminals. Soon. they are right!! In fact. PCs were called as IBM compatibles/IBM clones.1 IBM PC Calling something a PC means that it is something much more specific than just any personal computer. Some people take this definition a step further and define a PC as any personal computer that is "IBM compatible" – and. the fact is that IBM did not invent the personal computer : the first PC was the MITS Altair8800. However. though it was much less compared to the bigger mainframes and minicomputers. we can even say that IBM literally invented the type of computer we call a PC today. many other manufacturers followed. the user was not required to remain connected to some mainframe or any other computer. IBM did not invent the personal computer. These were known as the PC clones. More important. Of course. and IBM originally defined and set all the standards that made the PC distinctive from other personal computers.8.30 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1. It means the computer is related to the family of the original IBM PC launched in 1981. many years back. the PCs of today are able to challenge even some of the more advanced big machines. In fact. the average user was also given some processing power on his desktop. With the launch of the PC. These terminals had either no processing power or very little processing power of their own. The PCs are primarily based on the Intel architecture . Thus. or the IBM PC-compatible machines. but it did invent the machine which we today call as the PC. introduced in 1975. with the rapid advances in speed and technology. TIP : IBM is credited with the invention of the PC. imitating the architecture of the IBM PC. Characteristics Prior to the launch of the PC. The IBM PC launched in 1981 set the standards for other manufacturers to follow.
XT. and AT.2 PC-XT/PC-AT Generally speaking. The bus is the name given to expansion slots in which additional plug-in circuit boards can be installed. 1. XT stands for extended technology PC. designed to run software written for the Intel chip and compatible chips such as the K6 (AMD) or the Celeron (Intel).Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 31 microprocessor. AT was the name given to systems . In fact. have been borrowed from the original IBM systems. These systems had an 8-bit 8088 processor and an 8-bit Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus. systems can be classed into the following hardware categories: • • • • 8-bit 16-bit 32-bit 64-bit Even with different bit-sizes. the older 8-bit systems are very different. whereas AT stands for advanced technology PC. we are left with only 2 classes of hardware: • • 8-bit (PC/XT-class) systems 16/32/64-bit (AT-class) systems Here. which had these names. to add some extra features to our computer. The PC/XT included a hard disk of 20 or 40 MB in addition to the floppy drives of the basic PC. The basic PC system included only 5. However. The ISA bus found in the PC/XT class systems can send and receive only 8 bits of data in a single cycle. the terms PC.8. Systems which are 16-bit and more are the systems of the AT-class.25 inch floppy disc drives. the systems from 16-bit upto 64-bit are similar in basic design and architecture. Thus.
With passing time.9 TYPES OF P. the classification of P. a desktop computer is any computer which can fit on the top of a desk.C. it is a very broad term. Any AT-class system must have a processor that is compatible with (at least) Intel 80286 processor.s Basically.C. and they are also called as AT-class systems. Pentium-166 MHz.s is done on the basis of their size.12 A typical Desktop PC . and it must have a system bus of at least 16 bits.32 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology that first included the 16-bit processors and expansion slots. Thus. 1. Figure 1.1 Desktop Simply put. and the latest Pentium-4 computers running at 2000 MHz and 2400 MHz.9. Pentium-133 MHz. which can include the simplest of Personal Computers (PCs) such as the 80486. 32-bit and 64-bit processors and expansion slots appeared. 1. All AT-class systems are similar in the system bus architecture and basic memory architecture.
One major reason behind this was that it was a proprietary system. The Macintosh initially ran on the Motorola 68000 processor series. the Macintosh runs on the PowerPC microprocessor. as a result of its better and larger monitor plus high level of performance. let us clearly understand that the Macintosh is not an IBM-compatible PC : the Macintosh is based on a different architecture compared to the IBM PC. the Macintosh was the first widelysold machine which offered a GUI (Graphical User Interface). the IBM PCs also offer faster performance and good graphical abilities. Now. The Macintosh works through the Mac operating system.13 An Apple Macintosh The Macintosh offers more of features than the average IBM PC. the Macintosh is used in only some select segments. Due to the superior features. Motorola. However. Unfortunately. the Macintosh is priced slightly higher than the average IBM PC compatible machine. Hence. The processing power and the monitor are far better with the Macintosh. and Apple. the Macintosh could not come close to the average user. the Macintosh from Apple computers. this resulted in fewer sales of the Macintosh compared to the IBM PC. developed jointly by IBM. Launched in 1984. Thus. Figure 1. At this stage. .Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 33 This category includes another type of computers. Today. DTP (Desk Top Publishing) is one segment where the Macintosh was mainly used. they are also being used in this field. resulting in sharper and richer pictures with good speed.
Usually. Notebook computers cost about 1. They have the same CPUs.5-2 times the price of equivalent regularsized computers. This is an extremely lightweight personal computer. In addition. Hence the “laptop computer”. Laptop computers are also called notebook computers.34 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology TIP : In a proprietary system. are available only from the original manufacturer. This and some other advances are gradually increasing the sales of the Macintosh. it has a trendy seethrough (transparent) monitor. they can easily fit in a briefcase. Notebook computers come with battery packs through which we can run them without plugging them into a power source. all the upgrade components such as motherboards. which is so small that it can sit on our lap. etc. the iMac can configure itself on its own. However. Even today. However. Usually. portable computer. Even in a Network. memory capacity. cases. the batteries need to be recharged every few hours. Based on their small size. power supplies. and disk drives.2 Laptop/NoteBook A small. Data shows that Macintosh holds about 4% share of the worldwide desktop computers market 1. all this power makes notebooks slightly expensive. The recently launched iMac has features such as auto-configuration of peripherals attached to the computer. Based on the computing power. modern notebook computers are nearly equivalent to personal computers. .9. the weight of Notebook computers is less than 3 kgs. the Macintosh remains the number 1 machine for animators and advertisers.
Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 35 Touch Pad Figure 1. Thus. The monitor of a Notebook computer should always offer these features : • • Lightweight.14 A Notebook Computer Trackballs and touchpads are the devices used to convey graphic instructions to our notebook computer. allowing us to point to our choices or to sketch. A number of techniques. The other features relate to the type of display technology used in notebook construction. these factors don't apply to desktop monitors. draw and paint. non-bulky. they play the role of the Mouse in a Notebook. The display technologies used in notebook computers are of 3 types : • • Passive Matrix Dual-Scan .Special Considerations There are some unique features related to Notebook displays. known as flat-panel technologies. Notebook Screen . As expected. are used to produce such a screen.
notebook keyboards have special configurations so that all the keys can fit into a smaller-sized keyboard. while the keyboard can be permanently attached to the replicator or docking station. a port replicator or docking station is a good tool. the notebook can be connected to one of these. we plug in the keyboard and then we switch on the notebook. Most notebooks will automatically detect the external keyboard and will work with the external keyboard. While the notebook is turned off. For this reason. notebook keyboards have fewer keys. Thus.36 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology • Active Matrix Notebook Keyboards The dimensions of the notebooks are small. Using a Standard Keyboard with a Notebook Most notebooks have a plug through which we can connect an external keyboard. Further. TIP : The external keyboard should not be plugged in or unplugged while the notebook power is on. The mobile processors have 2 unique features : . The keys themselves are usually smaller and more compactly arranged. If an external keyboard is frequently required. Special features of a Notebook Computer Several features of a notebook make it much different from a typical PC. average users might take some time in adjusting to a notebook's keyboard. Whenever required. Here are some of them : Processor : The processor should be a special mobile processor. not the built-in keyboard.
with additional features such as bays for added drives and slots for expansion cards. The newest technology for these is Cardbus and Zoomed Video. they use less power so the battery will last longer. The monitor. and mouse are plugged into the replicator and the notebook is plugged into the replicator. We can keep the external devices permanently plugged into the replicator. even as we can easily plug and unplug the notebook without individually attaching the monitor. and external monitor. . Trackballs are another option for pointing. built-in touch pad. in any case they are an old type now. Very recently. a mouse is not used with a notebook. The port replicator has all of the same external ports as the notebook. and mouse everytime. Optional ports may include speakers and serial plugs (for an external modem). Most of the notebooks now have a small. Notebooks with hot swappable batteries are better. though it is typically for notebooks only. Nickel-Metal Hydride (NimH) is another good option. External ports : Ports will be required for connecting a mouse. Battery : Lithium Ion (LiO) batteries are considered the best. keyboard. Docking station : This is a bigger and a better option compared to the port replicator. printer. keyboard. A docking station has all of the features as the replicator. AMD has also launched the Athlon XP-M processor tailored for mobile computing. Nickel-Cadmium batteries should be avoided. keyboard. We drag our fingers across the touchpad. for getting mouse-like effects. Pointing device : Mostly.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 37 • • they emit less heat. we can switch to a second battery without rebooting the computer. Intel has launched the Centrino processor for notebooks. In this case. Port replicator : A port replicator is required if the notebook is being used as a replacement for a desktop system. PC Card slots : This is an expansion slot.
A typical PDA can play the role of a fax sender. some PDAs can also react to voice input.15 A Palm Top Computer In fact. By using voice recognition technologies. hence the name “palmtop”. Palmtops use a pen instead of a keyboard for input.38 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1. However they are practical for certain functions such as phone books and calendars. internet. Figure 1.3 Palmtop This is a small computer that can fit in our palm. cellular phone. networking. they incorporate handwriting recognition. Most of the palmtop computers do not include disk drives. Compared to full-size computers. telephone/fax. web browser and personal organizer. the PDA is a handheld device which combines the features of : • • • • computing. palmtops are severely limited. For this. It is also known as handheld computer or PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).9. mainly because they are very small in size. The PDAs of today are available in either a stylus or a keyboard version. Most of the PDAs were initially pen-based. .
Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 39 However, many machines contain PCMCIA slots. We can insert modems, memory, and some other devices through these slots. Apple computer, one of the first companies to offer PDAs, introduced the Newton MessagePad in 1993. Shortly thereafter, several other manufacturers offered similar products. Today, one of the most popular brands of PDAs is the series of Palm Pilots from Palm, Inc. Media Corporation recently launched a pocket-sized computer measuring just 52 millimeters * 52 millimeters. The machine, dubbed T-Cube, uses the Japanese-developed Tron operating system. The TCube has a weight of 165 grams and a height of 45 mm. All of its components are made in Japan. The price of the machine is around 200,000 yen. Keyboard and display are sold separately, and the machine does not have a built-in hard disk drive.
1.9.4 Work Stations
This is a term which is somewhat vague. It can refer to 2 things :
a place where a person is working on a computer, and it can also refer to a special-purpose high-powered desktop computer.
When the high-powered desktop computers were launched, they were called engineering workstations, because they were mainly used by engineers and scientists. Engineering workstations have been provided by Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics (SGI), and Hewlett-Packard, besides others. Later on, because of their high power, they were found to be good at processing graphics with speed. Thus, they were also adopted by the animators and graphics artists. These computers were known as graphics workstations.
Thus, as we can see, the workstation is not a computer with a very precise definition – the term workstation can take on different meanings, depending on who is using the system. It is, just for defining it, a higher-end desktop computer with a high-end monitor, which can serve diverse roles for individual users with different high-end computing needs.
40 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology
1.9.5 Newer Developments in Notebooks
Toshiba Corporation has developed a prototype fuel cell for portable personal computers that may end reliance on rechargeable batteries. The small-sized methanol fuel cell, probably the first of its kind in the world, has a maximum output of 20 watts. It can run about 5 hours on a single fuel cartridge. The cell also provides instant power supply. Through the use of replaceable methanol cartridges the operating times can be extended.
The development of the new fuel cell has been made possible by developing miniaturized fuel tanks and allowing methanol to be stored at very high concentrations. Toshiba plans to commercially launch the cell by the end of 2004.
126.96.36.199 Tablet PC
This is a type of notebook computer which has an LCD screen. The user can write on the screen using a special-purpose pen, or stylus. A stylus is a pointing and drawing device shaped like a pen. A stylus is used with a digitizing tablet or touch screen. The handwriting is digitized and can be converted to standard text through handwriting recognition, or it can remain as handwritten text. Tablet PCs also have a keyboard and/or a mouse for input.
The tablet PC relies on digital ink technology. Here, a digitizer is laid under or over an LCD screen to create an electromagnetic field which can capture the movement of the special-purpose pen. This movement can be recorded on the LCD screen. This effect is similar to writing on paper with liquid ink.
Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 41
Figure 1.16 Tablet PCs
188.8.131.52 Digitizing tablets
This is an input device with which we can input drawings and sketches into a computer. A digitizing tablet consists of an electronic tablet and a cursor or pen. The cursor is also called a puck and is similar to a mouse. However, unlike a mouse, it has a window with cross hairs for pinpoint placement. Also, it can have as many as 16 buttons. The pen is also called a stylus and it looks like a simple ballpoint pen. However, it uses an electronic head instead of ink. The tablet contains electronics through which it can detect movement of the cursor or pen. These movements are then translated into digital signals that it sends to the computer.
For digitizing tablets, each point on the tablet represents a point on the display screen in a fixed manner. This differs from mice, in which all movement is relative to the current cursor position. The static nature of digitizing tablets makes them particularly effective for tracing drawings. Most modern digitizing tablets also support a mouse emulation mode, in which the pen or cursor acts like a mouse. Digitizing tablets are also called digitizers, graphics tablets, touch tablets, or simply tablets. Microsoft is actively pushing the concept of tablet PCs.
The Need Though computers can perform a wide variety of tasks, they tie down a user to a single location. This is alright for an executive at a phone center, or for an author writing a novel. However, many people are
With these 2 technologies. portable option and they work on 2 exciting technologies : • • handwriting recognition. Also. though data with IDC (International Data Corporation) suggests the accuracy of handwriting recognition ranges from 75 to 80 percent. 1. and they need computer access when moving here and there. speech-recognition and handwritingrecognition technologies have been major stumbling blocks for computer makers. Thus. Thus.9. many users still find the keyboard more convenient in many situations. PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) can perform some essential tasks. With years and years of keyboard use.42 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology mobile today. Tablet PCs offer a lightweight.3 Handwriting recognition This is the technique which helps a computer system to recognize characters and other hand-written symbols. However. but they are not meant for full-blown computing. This technology might significantly affect the success or failure of PDAs. the user is freed from the cumbersome mouse and keyboard.4 Voice recognition . The major challenge faced by tablet PCs is not really related to technology: it has more to do with habit. properly understanding different people’s writing is a major problem. and still the user can access the full range of normal applications.9. and speech-recognition functionality. many user’s handwriting skills have gone down. 1.5. Going by the concept. is somewhat slow and the accuracy is not yet proven. handwriting recognition can free us from our keyboards. The technology. though promising.5. Many people can write much faster with a keyboard than they can by hand. It can help us to write and draw more naturally. This gap between PCs and PDAs is bridged by the Tablet PCs.
Think and discuss which kind of Computers will be suitable for your company :.. However..Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 43 Voice recognition is a major area of concern for tablet PCs.. it is of no use at all. which are working together in a pre-defined manner to achieve a common goal. Voice recognition software is usually available with the operating system of the Tablet PC. The dictionary of the software directly affects the hit rate of voice recognition...1 Parts of a Computer Any system is a combination of inter-dependent components. If it can understand the spoken word and easily convert it to text....Macintosh / IBM PC / Mainframe / NoteBook 1..10.Macintosh / IBM PC / Mainframe / NoteBook • Suppose the senior managers of your company keep moving all over the world. Think and discuss which type of computers will be beneficial for your company’s managers :.. The employees need to be constantly in touch and the crores of records need to be available at any office whenever required.... They are in need of computers constantly as they keep moving here and there. if the Tablet PC mixes up a user's speech.10 COMPONENTS OF A COMPUTER 1.- • Suppose the offices of your company are spread all over the world and they have crores of records to store. that is the best deal.MENTAL EXERCISE . All of the components have to be present for the system to work . it has a lower strike rate than 3rd party software available in the market. However. .
pictures. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) or the Microprocessor . it converts the sound waves of our voice into electrical signals.10. 1. the system will not operate as expected. through which we can type in our data. the CPU is the microprocessor "brain" of the computer system. as a well-oiled machine. the scanner becomes an optical character recognition or OCR system that reads text and transforms words into electronic form. draw and paint. It is a combination of some parts (components) which collectively work to make the computer perform smoothly. can be of the following types : 1. a specialized and sophisticated software reads the digital signal to capture and understand the individual words we have spoken. Probably the commonest of input devices is the KeyBoard. If any of the components is missing. we will not be able to work on the computer. is the same. All of the data we provide as input goes through the input devices.44 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology properly. helping us to point to our choices or to sketch. Using a microphone. The Mouse is another input device. The keyboard remains the most efficient way to enter text into applications.10. These components.2 Input Devices As the name suggests. too. Finally. Everything that a computer does is overseen by the CPU. alphabets. A scanner can help to transfer images to our PC. In association with the right software. broadly speaking. this group of devices is used to input data into the computer. The mouse is a basically a pointing device which conveys graphic instructions to our computer. A voice recognition or voice input system works through our voice. etc. If any of these components is not available. whatever the type of data – numbers. used for “selecting” an item by “pointing” at it. A computer system.3 CPU (Central Processing Unit) Sometimes called a logic chip. Then a processing board makes those signals digital.
i. the microprocessor gets the first instruction from the Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) that comes with the computer as part of its memory (ROM). The CPU is the "engine" that goes into motion when we turn our computer on. the microprocessor is “driven” either by the operating system that BIOS loads into computer memory. output and storage devices to perform tasks. the CPU determines the processing power of the computer and also determines what software language it understands. It is the central unit in a computer which contains the logic circuitry that performs the instructions of a computer's programs.17 Pentium Pro Processor from Intel A microprocessor is designed to perform arithmetic and logic operations. These operations make use of small number-holding areas called registers. . After that.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 45 is a computer processor on a microchip. performs calculations and manages the flow of information through a computer system. The actual thinking inside the computer is performed by the CPU. or an application program. When we switch on the computer. The CPU processes the instructions. what programs it can run.e. Figure 1.. which give it instructions to perform. The CPU communicates with input. Thus.
Figure 1. Finding out the greater number out of 2 numbers is also done by the ALU. 1. . sends it to the CPU for processing and then sends the output to the screen/printer for display. this unit performs the mathematical and logical operations in the Computer.18 Pentium MMX. Left side shows chip underside with cover removed 1.10. This is because all other components are either directly or indirectly plugged into the motherboard. are performed by the ALU.10. The motherboard provides the electrical interconnectivity so that the PC's hardware components and subsystems can communicate with each other. planar board. or motherboard is the physical foundation of a computer. The motherboard is the central PC building block. Finding out which is a longer word (such as ‘Bhoj’ or ‘Bhojpal’) is also done by the ALU.46 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1. all additions. It is also known as baseboard. subtractions. Thus. system board. This part reads the data stored in the memory.1 Control Unit This is that part of the CPU which acts as the central controller in the Computer.3. etc. or main board.2 Arithmetic Logic Unit As the name suggests.4 Mother Board—MLB The MLB (Main Logic Board).10.3.
Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 47 The MLB is present in the main PC chassis. System boards come in different configurations including: • • • Extended Technology (XT) style AT style Baby AT style The early boards followed the IBM PC/XT configuration. The chip sets started incorporating more and more features. It is directly mounted on the chassis of the PC. When we open the cover of the PC. the mainboard becomes visible as the biggest sheet of fiberglass.19 Mother Board with AMD K5 processor on board . the IBM PC/AT configuration was introduced. The MLB is based on a specific CPU and supporting chip set. Processor on MotherBoard Figure 1. Later on. The right rear corner of the board has connectors for the keyboard and the mouse. thus the size of the MLBs became smaller and smaller. green or brown in colour. System boards have multiple layers with connections sandwiched between the different fiberglass layers.
1. we can get the output on any type of surface. we can extend the capabilities of the hardware by adding new cards and adapters. pictures. whatever the type of data – numbers.10.5 Output Devices As the name suggests. or a transparency for presenting in a meeting. A peripheral is any piece of hardware controlled by a computer e. However.48 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1. that alone is not enough. Hardware includes the basic computer and also the Cables. Hardware is somewhat permanent and invariable. The Printer is another output device. used for printing the output on a sheet of paper. Today. which is the screen through which we can see the result of the processing. In comparison.12 SOFTWARE Once we have purchased a Computer. and peripheral devices such as the Keyboard. In order to work on the Computer. butter paper. All of the results of the processing activity going inside the computer are viewed through the output devices. After purchasing the TV. mouse. Hardware implies a collection. This could be an ordinary paper. audio speakers and Printers. Probably the commonest of output devices is the Monitor. With advancing technology.11 HARDWARE Hardware refers to the physical parts of the computer system which collectively make up the system. This is similar to purchasing a TV. This means that hardware is something that we can see or touch. the physical components with which we can interact directly are known as hardware. we have photo printers which can give us photo-like quality output. Connectors. a Printer. etc. 1. Every PC is built from an array of components.g. this group of devices is used to output the information from the computer. This is just the hardware part of the overall system. The printout we get on paper is known as a “hard copy”. such as cloth. In other words. we need something more : the software. Each of these components serves a specific function in making the overall machine work. the data present inside the computer in a file is known as a “soft copy”. we need some channels to make good use of the TV. If .
we cannot make any use of the TV. taken in proper order : .. we need some programs to be able to work on the Computer. these are the essential features of a software : • • • • Written in a Computer language... It is the same situation with a Computer. Executing a particular task. we can offer an entirely new experience for our user.. Any software. Well-defined sequence of steps. All the features of the Computer can be accessed only through the software. ... though.. running through a pre-defined fixed series of steps. Software is a general term for the various kinds of programs used to operate computers and related devices. These programs are known as software. Fixed number of steps.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 49 there are no channels showing programs...13 INPUT/OUTPUT FUNCTIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS (How computer works) Having discussed the very basics of a computer. as if we have purchased a new computer. the Computer will be a dumb machine lying in a corner.. As compared to hardware. we can define software as follows : “A software is a program written in a computer language... The TV will be a dumb machine lying in a corner.MENTAL EXERCISE . Without the software. is going to meet all of these criteria. and executing a particular task. software is a bit more flexible.- • Suppose we have typed a list of guests invited to a party in the Computer. and doing nothing. Think and discuss on which device/devices will we able to see the list :o KeyBoard o Printer o Scanner o Monitor o Mouse 1.. Once we purchase a Computer. it is time now to understand briefly how it works. Technically. If we put an entirely new program on the hardware. The following are the steps involved in the working. whether big or small.” Thus. and doing nothing.
2. 6. the data is accepted through the Input device. 5. The entire process can be represented graphically as follows : Memory 2 5 Input Device 1 Control Unit 3 4 6 Output Device Arithmetic and Logic Unit Figure 1.14 MEMORY Memory is the electronic holding place for instructions and data that our computer's microprocessor can reach quickly.50 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology 1.20 : Working of the Computer 1. all the input we provide and all the output the computer provides is held in the memory of the computer. the data is sent to the Arithmetic and Logic Unit for processing. the control unit records the data in the memory. the result is displayed on the Output device. 4. 3. . the control unit stores the result (information) in the memory. In other words. the data then enters the CPU.
The term memory refers to data storage in the form of chips. Here are the different units of memory explained : . 1. which refers to the actual chips capable of holding data. Once we enter the 2 numbers (input). the memory plays an important role at every stage of the processing cycle. Thus. and the word storage refers to memory that exists on tapes or disks. Generally speaking. with more of available memory. Suppose we are running a program to add 2 numbers. With more of available memory. they will be stored in the main memory. we will see the following steps : 1. In this case. The result will be shown on the Monitor/Printer. the term memory is usually used as a shorthand for physical memory. 2. the computer will run faster. thus.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 51 Memory. We can improve the performance of a computer by adding more memory. This will bring the program from the hard disk/floppy disk into the main memory of the computer. as we can see. and store the result in the memory.14. Also. • The speed at which the programs will operate. as required. we can run more number of programs on our computer at the same time. The program will calculate the total. 4. 3. We will first of all load the program. The amount of memory determines 2 important features : • The number of programs a computer can run at once.1 Units of Memory Memory is measured in bytes. is the internal storage area in the computer.
Gigabyte(GB) : One Gigabyte is 1. Table 1. Kilobyte(KB) : One Kilobyte is 1. for recording by the user.824 characters. PROM. Inside the computer.3 Units of Memory UNIT SIZE Byte KiloByte MegaByte GigaByte TeraByte 8 bits 1024 Bytes 1024 KiloBytes 1024 MegaBytes 1024 GigaBytes 1.776 characters. Megabyte(MB) : One Megabyte is 1. This is approximately equal to one shell of books in a library. Buffer. i. Byte : One Byte is one character. Let us examine each in detail. That is to say. Bit is the smallest unit of information a computer can process.073. This is approximately equal to one book.2 PRIMARY STORAGE Primary means something very basic.) Thus. very elementary. Thus. the type of memory that is on-board the system is known as the primary memory. a “bit” is the smallest unit of representing data inside the computer.52 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology • • • • • • Bit : “Bit” stands for “binary digit”. One byte consists of eight bits (binary digits). or “bit”. this is the type of memory that is read-only. every character we use (letters and also numbers) is represented by a combination of “0”s and “1”s. This is approximately equal to an entire library of books. EPROM.048. Flash. RAM. ROM : ROM stands for Read Only Memory. The primary memory is divided into the following types : ROM. Primary memory too refers to the basic memory of the Computer. This is why we call it as a “binary digit”.511. A character can be a number. The ROM is used by the . It cannot be used for writing onto.627. (the term “bi” means “2”. Virtual.. Cache. Terabyte(TB) : One Terabyte is 1. As the name suggests.576 characters.e. 2 digits are used to represent the entire information inside the computer. and EEPROM. This is approximately equal to one page of double-spaced text.099.741.14.024 characters. letter or symbol.
The user’s manual of any product is like the ROM of the computer. A PROM is a memory chip on which we can store a program.e. Once the PROM has been used. the manual is never used by the user for writing anything into it. However. It can be used for reading some instructions and it can help in a proper operation of the machinery. This memory can be used for writing onto. we cannot write into the book.. TIP : The ROM is like a text-book : we only read from a book. EEPROM : EEPROM stands for electrically erasable programmable read-only memory. PROMs are non-volatile. for some internal processing. RAM : Every computer comes with a certain amount of physical memory. we cannot wipe it clean and use it to store something else. but only once. It has got nothing to do with the presence of electricity or the absence of it. PROM : PROM stands for programmable read-only memory. usually referred to as main memory or RAM. The data held by the ROM is the same. . this is the type of memory that can be accessed randomly. An EPROM is a special type of PROM that can be erased by exposing it to ultraviolet light. it does not involve direct interaction from the user. RAM stands for Random Access Memory. Like ROMs. Thus. whatever the state of electricity. This kind of memory is located on one or more microchips that are physically close to the microprocessor in our computer. As the name suggests. for recording by the user. i.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 53 Computer for its own tasks. EPROM : EPROM stands for erasable programmable read-only memory. The ROM performs the same role in a Computer. An EEPROM is a special type of PROM that can be erased by exposing it to an electrical charge. There is another important feature of ROM : ROM is a memory which is permanent in nature.
This means that the contents of the RAM are never permanent. name. the data entered in the RAM will be kept alive. Whenever we are running a program in Windows.54 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology TIP : Whenever we refer to the memory of the computer. we are primarily referring to the RAM. such as the age. It is also possible that the data is being directly typed by us. The slowest RAM chips were 250 nanoseconds (ns). Figure 1. the program is loaded into the RAM. RAM is rated and classified by access time. Another important feature of the RAM is that it is volatile. forever. While there is electricity. The data being used in the program. the data stored in the RAM is lost. Either way. and the fastest is around 10 ns. Typically RAM chip speeds are about 50 to 70 ns. might be retrieved from the database. As soon as the electricity is switched off. TIP : The RAM can be considered as a note-book : we use a note-book for writing. etc.21 A RAM Chip .. similar to the role of the RAM. the memory that is going to hold the data is the RAM. class.
L1 cache is also known as the .Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 55 We can consider the main memory as an array of boxes. disk and the memory whenever processing is going on. it first looks for the data in the L1 cache. It is present directly on the CPU chip. The cache is a high-speed memory between the CPU and the RAM.3. This list is stored in the cache memory. whenever we execute a command that had been executed only recently. it can be quickly loaded and shown to the user.14.3 Other Types of Memory 1.1 Cache Memory This memory serves a very different kind of a purpose. it is different from the RAM. L1 cache is quite small in size. Otherwise. This way. it provides the fastest way for the computer to get the frequently used data. If the data is found in the Cache. with each box holding a single byte of information.14. the computer keeps moving the data between the CPU. the computer will have to re-execute the command from scratch. The following table summarizes the difference between ROM and RAM : Table 1. which will take up precious processing time. can hold about 1 million bytes (or characters) of information. However.4 Comparison of ROM and RAM Feature Volatility Data Stored ROM Non-Volatile System related Volatile Application data RAM 1. therefore. Cache memory is of 2 types : • Internal L1 Cache: Whenever the computer needs data. Normally. or the RAM. and get a fresh copy of the results. The data needs to be brought to the CPU from either : • • the hard disk. A computer that has 1 megabyte of memory. the Cache memory saves time and helps in a faster processing of the commands. This way. In this sense. it holds the data. The Computer keeps a list of the most recently executed commands ready. it does not store the entire data : only the recent data is stored in the cache. the Computer can quickly retrieve the result from the cache memory. Thus. Similar to the RAM.
the RAM. so . • Internal L2 Cache: If the computer cannot find the data it needs in the L1 cache. to maximize performance. it places a copy of the data in the cache. Level 2 is larger in size and. the memory cache is kept constantly updated. the computer must get the data from the slower main memory. L1 cache first appeared in the 80486 chips. It is also called the secondary cache. until recent years.22 Working of Cache Memory If the computer cannot find the data it needs in the L1 or L2 cache.56 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology primary cache. Level 2 CPU cache external to the CPU chip runs at half the speed of the CPU. User requests data Computer searches Cache Data in cache Data not in cache Data retrieved from Cache (fast process) Data retrieved from RAM or Hard Disk (slow process) Cache updated with new results Figure 1. This way. the computer looks in the L2 cache. RAM is from 3 to 10 times slower than the CPU and the Level 1 cache. has been located outside the chip on the motherboard. Level 2 CPU cache was incorporated into the chip for the first time in PentiumPro chips. The latest Intel and AMD chips have both Level 1 and Level 2 CPU cache memory inside the chip. Every time the computer requests data from the RAM.
but no physical existence. the memory of a computer can be put under a lot of strain.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 57 that it always contains the most recently used data. where the data for the current program is stored.14.3.2 Buffer When we begin working on a program. 1. and the system might even ‘hang’. the program is loaded into the memory. (stop working) Keeping this problem in mind. Once it is needed again. The data entered by the user for the particular program is also stored in the memory. in virtual memory there are no chips or any physical objects representing the virtual memory. the newer operating systems and applications have an interesting feature : a part of the program or the data is stored outside the RAM. in which the program as well as its data is stored.14. It only has to look up the Buffer. For example. With very large programs and very large data files. each program is given a slice of the memory. the RAM and ROM are physical – they are basically a set of chips. the computer does not have to search the entire memory. This makes the organization and the storage more effective and efficient. the memory will become so much packed that very little of the memory will be left free.3 Virtual Memory The term “virtual” means something with only a logical existence.3. To search for some data related to a particular program. On the other hand. which we can see and touch. Gradually. thus : • • the system will become very slow. it is fetched back . However. The entire process of cache search can be graphically represented as follows : 1.
4 Flash Memory Another special type of memory. The higher the virtual memory. the virtual memory is only a logical concept. The Virtual memory refers to the space on a hard disk used to temporarily store data and swap (exchange) it in and out of RAM as needed. and the part that is not required at present is shifted outside the RAM. The working of virtual memory can be represented graphically as follows : Redundant data and instructions RAM Required data and instructions HARD DISK Figure 1. depending on whether it is currently required or not. This is the concept of virtual memory : the data is constantly swapped (exchanged) between the RAM and outside the RAM. The virtual memory expands the physical memory onto the hard disk. this memory too is represented in the form of chips. This is because the RAM is kept relatively free for storing data and other instructions related to other programs that are going on. Here.58 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology into the RAM.23 Working of Virtual Memory 1.14. the better the performance of the computer system. since there are no physical chips devoted to virtual memory. One of the latest in storage. as we can see. Even when the power is switched off. the data is stored on a permanent basis. The device that stores this ‘extra’ data or program is the hard disk.3. This helps in an improvement in performance. Thus. the data is .
A form of flash memory is available in PC cards of the size of a credit card. Figure 1. these cards are used with PDAs. usage and size. As a result of these features. Since there are no moving parts. These are also known as PCMCIA cards. they are removable. Mother Board is the basic foundation of the Computer. processing and delivery of information. Digital Cameras. The 4th generation of Computers uses Microprocessors..e. i. When one flash card is filled up. Equally important. The 2nd generation of Computers used transistors. They consume less energy but run faster than the Hard disk. . storage. this is faster than mechanical disks and tapes.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 59 retained in the flash memory. we take it out and plug in another card in its place. Computers can be categorized on the basis of technology. Charles Babbage is called the father of computers.24 : Flash Memory Card AT-A-GLANCE • • • • • • • • • • Information Technology is concerned with the creation. the flash memory is non-volatile. Computer is an electronic device which accepts data processes it to provide meaningful information. The 3rd generation of Computers used Integrated Circuits. etc. Abacus is probably the oldest calculating device. these cards can play the role of a Hard disk by plugging into the slots at the side of the computer. The 1st generation of Computers used Vacuum Tubes. In notebook computers. and also because they are small.
RAM is where the Computer stores the data of the user. Hardware includes all the Input and Output devices of the Computer. 5. The data held in ROM cannot be changed. 11. Discuss the different types of P. Memory stores the program instructions and the data. Computers can be called as XT or AT type. Workstation is a high-capacity PC meant for a specific task. Abacus was invented by the Americans. 3. The Computer stores our data in the RAM. The basis architecture of the PC and Macintosh is different. Generally speaking. Discuss the role of Charles Babbage in the history of development of Computers. Discuss the concept of memory 10. What is a Computer ? Explain the components of a Computer. 4. 2. Tablet PCs work through a digitizing tablet and digital ink. PalmTop is currently the smallest type of Computer.C. 2. ROM is where the Computer stores its own data. 9. QUESTION-HOUR Explain in detail : 1. What is meant by “Generations of Computers” ? 5. The main components of a Computer are – Input Device. MicroComputers are more powerful than WorkStations. Explain the difference between CPU and Mother Board. Describe the working of a Computer. 8. whereas the secondary memory is indirectly connected to the CPU. NoteBook computers can fit in our laps. Primary memory is directly connected to the CPU. Fill in the blanks : . These are also known as Peripherals. 4. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of a Computer.s 7. 6. 3. CPU and Output Device. Write a note on Super Computers. Jaquard made a loom that operated through Puch Cards.60 n Fundamentals of Computers and Information Technology • • • • • • • • • • • • • On the basis of the mother board. What has been Herman Hollerith’s contribution in the history of development of Computers ? Answer in Yes/No : 1. Discuss the classification of Computers based on size. Software refers to the Computer programmes which are helpful in operating the Computer and the peripherals.
. read along . 4. The processor of the Macintosh Computer is _______.Introduction to Computer and Information Technology n 61 1. Charles Babbage first thought of the _______ _______. . . . 2. . . Looking ahead . 3. In this chapter we studied the working and the components of a Computer. . . The full name of EPROM is _______. 5. It is possible that we have the following questions on our minds :• How to enter data into the Computer ? • How to view the results from the Computer ? • How to store the results for a long time ? In order to get the answers to these questions. The main feature of a Digital Computer is _______. . Laptops usually have a _______ type of a monitor.