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Introduction to Computer

Mr. C. Ncube and Mrs. Marabada
(Introduction to IT Laboratory)

Informatics, Information and
Informatics (Computer Science): a set of
processes and technologies
Data: representation of facts, concepts,
instructions, … suitable for communication,
storage, processing etc. by human or
automatic means
Information: any knowledge, news,
communication that lowers the uncertainty
The meaning that humans assign to data by
commonly accepted convention on their

What is “Computer Science”?
The term Computer Science or Informatics
denotes the set of processes and
technologies that allow one to:
 Create,
 Collect,
 Process,
 Store,
 Transmit
information by automatic means

Information technologies
To process data in order to obtain
useful information (automatically)
To store data in order to maintain the
corresponding information
To organize the data so that the
information thus derived can be more
easily understood

Hardware and Software
Hardware: all the physical components –
typically the electronic computer and its
peripherals and interconnection networks

Software: the set of instructions that cause
the hardware to function in a certain way
 System software
 Application software

Hierarchical Organization


System software

Application software

Instructions and Languages
Hardware executes only instructions in Machine
language – peculiar to that particular processor
System level software is written in high level
languages (assembly language for critical
components, C, C++, …) and is translated into
machine language
Application level software is written in high level
languages, rely on the presence of a specific
operating system and hardware running
“underneath” and is translated into machine

Compatibility Issues
A sequence of instructions (program) written in
Machine language can be executed only on the kind
of processor for which it is designed
A system-level program written in a high-level
language can be executed on any processor with the
required hardware that has a translator for that
An application-level program written in a high-level
language can be executed on any processor that has
a translator for that language AND runs the correct
system software

Abstractions and Virtual Machines
Each system-level program (operating system)
defines a different computer system
 Most modern computers are now powerful enough to
run entire operating systems within your main
operating systems
 The same processor can be seen as a Linux
computer, a Win2K computer, a WinXp computer, etc.
Each application program defines a
virtual machine
 There can be a Java Machine, an Excel machine, a
Pascal machine, …

Abstractions and Virtual
Machines cntd
Virtual machines allow you to run one
operating system emulated within
another operating system.
You can have Windows 7 64-bit, for
example, but with enough memory and
processing power, you can run other
Operating Systems alongside it.

CSF-1 Fall bimester 2006 10
What is a Computer?
By Computer today it is meant a Digital
Electronic Computer

Digital: uses discrete numeric values to
represent data
Electronic: data processing is done by
electronic circuits
Computer: a machine that can represent and
process data according to some instructions

Computer Systems
A Computer System comprises a set of correlated
parts that together carry out some required function

 The central processor (CPU)
 The internal memory (RAM)
 The external memory subsystem(s)
 discs, CD, …
 The peripherals for I/O
 keyboard, screen, printer, …
 The communication subsystem(s)
 Modems, networks …,

Computer Systems ctnd
• The laptop is simple and convenient to
• Portability makes it an ideal choice
• All devices bundled

Monolithic System



Computer Systems ctnd
The desktop is made of components
• Monitor
• Hard drive
• Speakers
• Printer
• etc

Component Systems
System Unit (CPU) Monitor