You are on page 1of 6



A computer system is made up of hardware and software. Hardware describes any kind of computer equipment that can be physically touched. A peripheral device is a hardware device that is attached to a computer, rather than being built into it. Examples:
Item Printer Digital image Computer operating system Electric kettle Disk drive Robot arm Word processor Program to control a robot Hardware Yes Software Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Other

a) Define hardware, giving examples.

Hardware is defined as the physical parts of the computer system the processor, storage, input and output peripherals etc. example keyboard, mouse etc.

b) Define Software, giving examples.

Software is the set of programs or instructions that enable the hardware to function. Example Spreadsheet program, Operating system etc.

c) Describe the difference between hardware and software.

Hardware is the parts of the computer system that you can touch and handle. Hardware is collective name given to all the devices that make up a computer system. These devices are Input devices, Output devices, backing storage and the central processing unit. Example keyboard, mouse etc. Software is the word used for the actual programs that allow the hardware to do a useful job. Without software, hardware is useless. It is made up of a series of instructions that tell the computer what to do. Example Windows, Payroll program etc.

d) Identify the main components of a general-purpose computer; central processing unit,

main/internal memory, input devices, output devices and secondary/ backing storage.

Central processing unit

Input unit Control unit Arithmetic and logic unit

Immediate access store Output unit

2 Backing store Input Unit is a peripheral unit that can accept data, presented in the appropriate machinereadable form, decode it and transmit it as electrical pulses to the central processing unit. Output Unit is a peripheral unit that translates signals from the computer into a humanreadable form or into a form suitable for processing by the computer at a later stage. Central processing unit is the brain of the whole system where all instructions are carried out. It includes: Control Unit, which controls the timing of the operations and movements of data inside the computer and between the computer peripherals. Arithmetic and logic unit where calculations are performed and logical comparisons are made. The immediate access store or primary or main store is the term used for the group of chips inside the CPU where data is held temporarily while processing takes place. This memory is instantly accessible. Characteristics of main memory are that data can be written and read at very high speeds. Internal memory is usually referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory) because data can be stored and accessed from any area of the memory chip. ROM (Read Only Memory) - is a type of memory chip which only allows data to be read from it. You cannot therefore change the data stored on ROM. ROM chips are used to store the permanent operating system data (the BIOS). They are also used to store the permanent programming inside a domestic device such as a television or washing machine. The contents of ROM are not lost (it is 'non-volatile') when a computer is turned off.

Backing/secondary storage stores data in some kind of storage medium. They are permanent storage devices. The commonest types of storage media are hard disk, floppy disk, CD-ROMs etc.

e) Identify operating systems, including Graphic User Interface, command line interface
Operating Systems The Operating System (OS) of a computer is the complex software that actually controls the input, output and storage devices of the computer, as well as acting as an interface between the user and any other software that is installed. Examples of systems software:

Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows NT, LINUX and UNIX are different operating systems that can be used to control computers.

3 Functions of an operating system: Allocating a processor 'time slot' for each programming task that is running Managing the priorities for each programming task that is running Allocating and keeping track of the memory used for storing programs and data Managing the transfer of data between memory and the backing store Handling input operations from the user and from other input devices Handling output operations Managing the system security System utility programs work with the operating system. Examples include programs to format floppy disks, copy files etc. Types of user interface: Many computer or database operating systems use complex programming languages which are not easy to use. A user interface is created to allow easier control of the operating system by the user of the system. A good interface should be easy to use, for example:

consistent menu structures; consistent operations from actions like clicking the right mouse button.

Examples of user interfaces:

Command line interface - commands are typed directly into the computer and then the enter button is pressed to run them. The commands must be entered correctly and are often abbreviated. They can be difficult to remember.

Example: c:>copy c:\examplefile.doc a: This command would copy a file called 'examplefile.doc' from the hard drive (drive C) to a floppy disk (drive A).

Graphical User Interface (GUI) - This type of interface is sometimes called a WIMP interface (Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer). Window: is a rectangular area of the screen to display the contents of folders (directories) and the output from programs and can be moved and resized. Icons: is a small symbol on the screen used to represent files or software. Menus: is a list of choices presented to the user by an interactive program. Pointer: is the point on the screen which allows the user to use the mouse to move the icons, run programs and select options from pull-down menus.

Assignment: 1.What is a bit? . 2. What is a byte? . 3. What does 1KB mean? Give its relation with bytes. . . 4.Tick in the correct boxes. Hardware Software (a) Keyboard (b) Floppy disk (c) VDU (d) Operating system (e) Data base (f) Light pen (g) Payroll program (h) Digitizer 5. The following specification for a Desktop PC appeared in a magazine.
3.46 GHz Processor 1 GB RAM (Upgradeable to 2 GB) 120 GB Hard disk 16 x DVD-ROM drive

(a) Name the two backing store devices that the computer uses. i. . ii. . (b)Which type of disk in the advertisement allows the fastest access to data? . (c)The RAM can be upgraded from 1 GB to 2 GB. (i)What is RAM? . (ii)What is it used for? (iii)Give one advantage when upgrading RAM to 2 GB.

(d)Give one advantage to the user of a computer having DVD-ROM. .. 6. List two disadvantages of command line interface. 1. ... 2. 7. List two advantages of GUI. 1. .. 2 .....

Computer Systems: Types of System

Super computers - these are the fastest and the most expensive computers available and could cost over 100 million pounds. They are mainly used for advanced scientific research, weather forecasting or advanced engineering applications. Main-frame computers - these are capable of processing and storing huge amounts of data. They would be used by large utility companies such as gas suppliers as well as banks etc. Minicomputers - these may be used by smaller businesses to manage their data processing or to run something like a city traffic control system. Microcomputers - these systems such as typically used by home and school users. They can be divided into different types: a. Desk top computers - these would typically be supplied with the computer itself (complete with hard disk drive and floppy disk drive) and peripherals such as a screen, a mouse, a keyboard and a CD or DVD drive. Advantages: Relatively cheap and easy to add expansion cards to. Disadvantages: Can take up a lot of space and are not easily moved. b. Notebooks (laptops) - these are small (typically 30cm x 20cm), light and easy to carry. The screen is on the inside top flap which hinges open to show the keyboard and mouse controls. They are designed to run on rechargeable batteries or the mains and can contain many of the features available on a desktop computer. Touch pads or a button are usually used to control the screen pointer.

Advantages: Portable due to their size and ability to run on batteries. Disadvantages: Expensive for their processing power compared to desktop computers. You cannot use standard expansion cards. Keyboards and screens not as good for extended usage. c. Palm-tops & PDAs (personal digital assistants) - These are small hand-held computers. They are usually supplied with software such as a diary, a contacts database, and some form of word processor. Many now have email facilities and even spreadsheets and databases. They either use a small keyboard or a touch-sensitive screen and handwriting recognition software. They can be linked to larger computers directly by cable or through a docking station or using an infra-red link. Advantages: Very portable. Disadvantages: Relatively expensive, limited expansion, non-keyboard versions can be slow to input data. Embedded computers - A vast number of modern devices contain some form of built-in computer. Examples include: washing machines; camera, hi-fi systems; telephones; microwave ovens; missiles etc. etc. The inputs are usually sensors so a keyboard may not be needed. The outputs are usually simple displays or motors and relays to control something. 2. Assignment: 1. A modern washing machine contains a processor, RAM and ROM.

a) RAM stands for .. b) ROM stands for .. c) Give two differences between RAM and ROM RAM 1 .. 2 .. ROM 1. .. 2 .. d) Give an application of RAM in a washing machine .. e) Give an application of ROM in a washing machine