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Computer Basics

Government of India Ministry of Communications & Information Technology Department of Information Technology National Informatics Centre Training Division New Delhi

Contents
1. Introduction............................................................................................................................... 1 1.1 Computer- An amazing machine........................................................................................ 1 2. Overview of a Computer System ............................................................................................. 2 2.1 Hardware............................................................................................................................. 2
2.1.1 The Central Processing Unit (CPU) ................................................................................... 3 2.1.2 Primary Memory .............................................................................................................. 5 2.1.3 Secondary Storage (External Storage Devices) ................................................................. 7 2.1.4 Peripherals .....................................................................................................................12

2.2 Software ............................................................................................................................ 24


2.2.1 System Software.............................................................................................................24 2.2.2 Application Software .......................................................................................................25

3. Classification of Computers................................................................................................... 27 3.1 According to the purpose, computers can be divided into the following categories:....... 27
3.1.1 Digital Computers ...........................................................................................................27 3.1.2 Analog Computers ..........................................................................................................27 3.1.3 Hybrid ............................................................................................................................28

3.2 According to size computers can be divided into following categories:........................... 28


3.2.1 Supercomputers .............................................................................................................28 3.2.2 Mainframe Computers .....................................................................................................28 3.2.3 Minicomputers ................................................................................................................29 3.2.4 Personal Computers .......................................................................................................29

4. File System in Computers...................................................................................................... 30 5. Computing Environments....................................................................................................... 32 5.1 Single User........................................................................................................................ 32 5.2 Multi User .......................................................................................................................... 32 5.3 Networked Environment ................................................................................................... 32
5.3.1 Classification of networks ................................................................................................32 5.3.2 Advantages of Networking ...............................................................................................32

6. Personal Computer Characteristics....................................................................................... 34 7. Computer Limitations ............................................................................................................. 35 8. Emerging Trends.................................................................................................................... 36 9. Working with Computers........................................................................................................ 38 9.1 How to start a computer.................................................................................................... 38 9.2 Familiarization with Keyboard........................................................................................... 39 9.3 Familiarization with mouse ............................................................................................... 41 10. Commonly Used Computer Terms ...................................................................................... 42

Computer Basics

1. Introduction
In the past few decades, computers have greatly influenced the life styles of a common man in the office, home, shopping center, library, theatre etc. Computers have solidly established itself as a powerful tool for helping the professionals/business people to improve their performance and the quality of their work. It would be exciting to know what exactly a computer is? What are its components? How does it work? What are the different species of a computer? Etc. This book takes you to a marvelous journey to discover more about computers. Bon Voyage!

1.1 Computer- An amazing machine


A computer is a truly amazing machine that performs a specified sequence of operations as per the set of instructions (known as programs) given on a set of data (input) to generate desired information (output). Being a machine, it will not perform independently or creatively. It will do only, what it is instructed to do, in specific terms. It is based on a complex technology, but works on a simple principle as follows: Input Process Output

The following features characterize this electronic machine: -

Speed Accuracy Storage and Retrieval Repeated Processing Capabilities Reliability Flexibility Low cost

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2. Overview of a Computer System


Every computer system has two main units: (i) Hardware (ii) Software All physical parts of the computer (or everything that we can touch) are known as Hardware. Software gives intelligence to the computer. For example in a television the wires, switches etc. are the hardware while the programs, watched on TV, is the software. Although the hardware of a computer is capable of performing marvelous tasks, it can't actually accomplish any of them without the vital instructions that software provides. In this section, we'll look at the physical components of t e machine, the h hardware & then turn to the software that brings life to the physical components.

2.1 Hardware
Hardware refers to the physical units of a computer, which includes electronic and electrical circuitry, components and devices. Regardless of its shape, size or capabilities, every computer that people use directly has same general design. Computer Hardware = Processing Unit + Secondary Storage Devices + Peripheral Devices The various units of computer hardware consist of the following components: 1. Central Processing Unit (CPU) (i) Processor (ii) Primary Storage

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2. Secondary Storage Devices (External Storage) (i) Floppy Disks (ii) Hard Disks (iii) Tape (iv) Optical Disks 3. Peripheral Devices (i) Input Devices (ii) Output Devices (iii) Other Peripherals

2.1.1 The Central Processing Unit (CPU1)


The complex procedure that transforms raw input data into useful information for output is called processing. To perform this transformation, the computer uses central processing unit. The processor is the "brain" of the computer, the part that interprets and carries out instructions. Every CPU has three basic parts (The relationship between different hardware components is shown in Figure 1): 1. Control Unit (CU) 2. Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) 3. Registers

The term central processing unit (CPU) is used loosely to refer to a computer's processor, be it a set of chips or a single microprocessor.

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CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT CU ALU

Registers
INPUT DEVICES Cache OUTPUT DEVICES

PRIMARY MEMORY ALU? Arithmetic Logical Unit CU ? Control Unit ROM? Read Only Memory RAM? Random Access Memory NOTE:- In latest processors cache is also included in CPU (as indicated by dotted line). SECONDARY STORAGE DEVICES

RAM

ROM

Figure 1: Block diagram showing different components of a computer

2.1.1.1 Control unit (CU)


The control unit manages all the computer resources and coordinates all the computer's activities. It contains the basic instructions (called firmware) for execution of programs. The instruction set, built into the circuitry of the control unit, is a list of all the operations that the CPU can perform. In fact, the control unit can be thought of as a traffic cop, directing the flow of data around the CPU and around the computer.

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2.1.1.2 Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU)


When the control unit encounters an instruction that involves mathematical calculation or decision/logic, it passes the control to the second component, i.e., the arithmetic logic unit (ALU). The ALU includes a group of registers - memory locations built directly into the CPU - that are used to hold data that are being processed by the current instruction. For example, the control unit might add two numbers (an arithmetic operation), or compare two numbers (a logical operation). In addition, CPU has a number of registers for storing data and instructions that are currently being processed.

2.1.1.3 Registers
The register is the smallest high-speed storage area in the CPU. All data must be represented in a register before it can be processed.

2.1.2 Primary Memory


Primary memory consists of mainly two types of memories: 1. Random Access Memory 2. Read Only Memory

2.1.2.1 Random Access Memory (RAM)


The CPU, however, does not have sufficient storage space for the entire program as well as for the data being manipulated by those programs. Therefore, the control unit stores the data and instructions received from input devices into primary memory called random access memory (RAM). Unlike human memory, which can store information indefinitely, RAM holds information only while the computer is ON. When the computer is turned off or reset, the information disappears unless it has been saved on a storage device. Hence RAM is often referred to as volatile or temporary memory.

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There are mainly three types of RAM available: 1. Dynamic RAM (DRAM) 2. Static RAM (SRAM) 3. Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM) Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM): A type of physical memory used in most personal computers. The term dynamic indicates that the memory must be constantly refreshed2 (reenergized) or it loses its contents. This type of memory is more economical. Static Random Access Memory (SRAM): A type of memory that is faster and less volatile than DRAM, but requires more power and is more expensive. The term static is derived from the fact that it does not need to be refreshed like DRAM. Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory (SDRAM): A type of DRAM that can run at much higher clock speeds.

2.1.2.2 Read Only Memory (ROM)


Some of the data and instructions remain permanently stored into memory, which cannot be changed. This memory is called read-only memory (ROM). A computer needs ROM, mainly, so that it knows what to do when the power is first turned on. Among other things, ROM contains a set of start-up instructions that check to see whether the rest of memory is functioning properly, look for hardware devices, and look for an operating system. Since this memory never gets lost, it is sometimes referred to as permanent or non-volatile memory. Types of ROM: 1. Programmable ROM (PROM) 2. Erasable PROM (EPROM) 3. Electrically EPROM (EEPROM)
2

To recharge a device with power. For example DRAM needs to be refreshed thousands times per second or it will lose the data stored in it.

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Programmable Read Only Memory (PROM): A PROM is a memory chip where data can be written only once. Once a programme has been written onto a PROM, it remains there forever. Unlike RAM, PROMs retain their contents when computer is turned off. PROM is manufactured as blank memory, whereas a ROM is programmed during the manufacturing process. Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EPROM): It is a special type of PROM that can be erased by exposing it to UV light. Once it is erased it can be reprogrammed. Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EEPROM): It is similar to PROM, but requires electricity to be erased.

2.1.2.3 Cache Memory


The performance of a computer very much depends upon the data transfer rate between CPU registers and memory. The computer is costlier if data transfer rate is faster. Therefore, to increase the transfer rate, economically, a cache memory (pronounced as CASH) is introduced in the computer that acts as a buffer between primary memory and CPU registers. In the present day computers, cache can be either a section of main memory or an independent high-speed storage device.

2.1.3 Secondary Storage (External Storage Devices)


Floppy diskettes, hard disk, tapes and optical disks come under the category of external storage devices or ancillary storage devices. These devices are very sensitive to environmental conditions (humidity and temperature) as well as to external magnetic fields and need to be stored carefully.

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Types of external storage devices are as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. Floppy disk Hard Disk Tape Optical Disk

2.1.3.1 Floppy Disk


It is a magnetic storage media, using flat circular platter. Floppy disks are primarily used on PCs. Information on a floppy disk is recorded in the magnetized states of particles of iron oxides evenly placed upon concentric circles known as tracks. Tracks are further divided into sectors. The difference between the capacities of double density and the quad density diskettes is in the number of tracks per inch (tpi)--48 tpi and 96 tpi, respectively, and in the number of sectors per track; usually this is eight or nine for ordinary diskettes and fifteen for high capacity diskettes. Physical size and storage capabilities of disks vary. Some examples are shown in figure 2.

Figure 2

Type Double Density (DD) High Density (HD) Double Density High Density Very High Density

Size 5.25" 5.25" 3.5" 3.5" 3.5"

Capacity 360 KB 1.2 MB 720 KB 1.44 MB 2.88 MB

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2.1.3.2 Hard Disk


It is a non-removable enclosed magnetic disk included in most PCs. It contains a stack of metal platters, each coated with iron oxide, that spin on a spindle and the entire unit is encased in a sealed chamber. A hard disk holds much more information than a floppy disk and is used to store relatively large amounts of data. The physical size and storage capabilities of a hard disk vary. For PCs, the storage capacities vary from 1 GB to about 8-10 GB. On mainframe computers (explained later) the size of hard disk may vary from 8 or 16 GB to several gigabytes (GBs). Technically microcomputer hard disks are called Winchester disks or fixed disks. These disks spin at an average speed of 3600 rpm (equivalent to 150km/hr) and unlike floppy disks they spin continuously. Winchester disk is a particular type of hard disk technology that uses a high density of data storage tracks and a very low flying read / write head, requiring a closely controlled operating environment.

2.1.3.3 Magnetic Tape


This is plastic tape, usually made of Mylar that is coated with iron oxide, thereby enabling the introduction (writing); retention (memory) and reading of magnetically recorded information. The best use of tape storage is for data that you do not use very often. A tape is a long strip of magnetic material; therefore the tape drive has to write data to it sequentially - one byte after another. Tapes are sequential access media, which means to get to a particular point on the tape; the tape must go through all the preceding points. In contrast, disks are random access media because a disk drive can access any point at random without passing through intervening points. Therefore, tapes cannot be practically used for data that you need often. They are mainly used for taking backup of hard disk. The tape capacity varies from few hundred kilobytes to several gigabytes.

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2.1.3.4 Optical Disks


The need for ever greater storage capacities has driven hardware manufacturers to use optical storage technology as the main alternative to magnetic storage. Optical storage techniques make use of the pinpoint precision possible with laser beams. Types of popular Optical disks are as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. CDROM WORM CD-R DVD

2.1.3.4.1 CDROM
The most-popular optical storage medium is only memory (CD-ROM as shown in figure 3). compact disk, read -

Figure 3

CD-ROM uses the same technology that is used in music CDs. One cannot write data to a CD-ROM but can always read it. The huge amounts of data, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, medical, legal or other professional reference libraries etc., that normally would not change, is available on CDs nowadays. A single CD can hold up to 650 MB of data. Larger CDs can store up to 20GB.

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2.1.3.4.2 WORM
Due to tremendous capacities of CDs, writable optical devices have been developed. This has resulted in the write once, read many (WORM) drive. As with the CD, once data has been written onto a WORM disk, it cannot be altered. For example, many banks use WORM disks to store a record of each days transactions.

2.1.3.4.3 Compact Disk Record able (CD-R)


It is similar to CD-ROM and can be produced by anyone who has a CD-Writer3. Data can be recorded only once in a CD-R to produce an audio CD or CD-ROM.

2.1.3.4.4 Digital Versatile Disc (DVD)


Digital Versatile Disk or Digital Video Disc, a new type of CD-ROM that holds a minimum of 4.7 GB enough for a full length movie. The DVD specification supports disks with capacities from 4.7 GB to 17 GB and access rate of 600 Kbps to 1.3 Mbps (Mega Bits Per second).

Storage Hierarchy: -The various levels of memory from registers to cache, to primary, to

secondary have decreasing cost and speed and increasing capacity.


Type of Memory Access Speed Capacity Cost

Registers (inside the CPU) Cache Primary Storage Secondary Storage

Highest

Lowest

Highest

Lowest

Highest

Lowest

A CD-Writer is a peripheral device that can record data on a CD-R disk.

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2.1.4 Peripherals
Peripheral devices are devices connected to the computer externally. If a peripheral device is disconnected, the computer will still be able to work; only functions performed by this peripheral device will not be available. Mainly there are following types of peripheral devices: 1. Input Devices 2. Output Devices 3. Other Peripherals

Disk drives Monitor

Keyboard Mouse Figure 4: The figure shows different peripheral devices.

2.1.4.1 Input Devices


Input devices accept data and instructions from the user. Following are the examples of various input devices, which are connected to the computer to provide input. There are many input devices. Some important input devices are as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. Keyboard Mouse Joystick Light Pen

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5. 6. 7. 8.

Optical/magnetic Scanner Touch Screen Microphone for voice as input Track Ball

. 2.1.4.1.1 Keyboard
A keyboard (as shown in Figure 5) is the most common input device now. Several kinds of keyboards are available, but they resemble each other with minor variations. The keyboard in most common use is the QWERTY board (from keys Q, W, E, R, T, Y in the top left corner of the keyboard). IBM and IBM compatible PCs or microcomputers use 104 keyboard; so called, since it has 104 keys. In these keyboards, the cursor control keys are duplicated to allow easier use of the numeric pad.

Figure 5

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2.1.4.1.2 Mouse
A mouse is an electro-mechanical, hand-held device (as shown in figure 6). It is used as a pointer. It can perform functions like select menu commands, move icons, resize windows, start programs, and choose options.

Figure 6

The most common mouse uses an internal, magnetically coated ball, to detect the movement of the mouse across a flat surface, usually a desktop. All windows based applications today are designed to work with a mouse. A mouse is used to replace hard -to-remember key combinations with easier "Point and Click" actions. However, it cannot substitute all keyboard operations. It can be alternative for commands based operations. Types of mouse: 1. Mechanical: It has a rubber or metal ball on its underside that can roll in all directions. Mechanical sensors within the mouse detect the direction in which the ball is rolling and move the screen pointer accordingly. 2. Optomechanical: It is same as mechanical mouse, but uses optical sensors to detect the motion of the ball. 3. Optical or Laser: It uses a laser to detect the mouses movement. Optical mouse has no mechanical moving parts. They respond more quickly and precisely than mechanical and optomechanical mouse but they are also more expensive.

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2.1.4.1.3 Joystick
A joystick is a pointing device (as shown in figure 7). It is basically a lever that moves in all directions and controls the movement of a pointer. A joystick is similar to a mouse, except that with a mouse the cursor stops moving as soon as you stop moving the mouse. With a joystick, the pointer continues moving in the direction the joystick is pointing. To stop the pointer, you must return the joystick to its upright position. Most joysticks include two buttons called triggers.

Figure 7

Joysticks are used mostly for computer games, but they are also used occasionally for CAD/CAM systems and other applications It provides more realistic control than a mouse or a keyboard for many games (e.g., flight simulators). The joystick is attached to the computer through a cable connected to the "Games port". Most computers come with one game port. Joysticks are not used for business applications such as word-processing, data analysis (using Spreadsheet) or data management.

2.1.4.1.4 Light pen


An input device that utilizes a light-sensitive detector to select objects on a display screen. A light pen is similar to a mouse (as shown in figure 8), except that with a light pen you can move the pointer and select objects on the display screen by directly pointing to the objects with the pen.

Light Pen Figure 8

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2.1.4.1.5 Optical Scanner


These devices are used for automatic data collection. The devices of this category completely eliminate manual input of data. For example, the bar-code reader is actually just a special type of image scanner. An image scanner translates printed images into an electronic format that can be stored in a computers memory, and with the right kind of software, one can alter a stored image. Another example of scanner is optical character recognition (OCR) device, used by banks to convert the scanned image of a typed or printed page into text that can be edited on the computer.

2.1.4.1.6 Touch Screen


Touch panel displays and pads are now being offered as alternatives to keyboard input. Here the input can be given through the computer screen, that accepts the input through monitor; users touch electronic buttons displayed on the screen or they may use light pen.

2.1.4.1.7 Microphone
Microphone is an input device, which takes voice as input. The voice communication is, more error prone than keyboarded information. There are two types of microphones available (as shown in figure 9): 1. Desktop Microphone 2. Hand-held Microphone

Figure 9: Desktop microphone and Hand-held Microphone

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2.1.4.1.8 Track Ball


Trackball, a pointing device, is a mouse lying on its back (as shown in figure 10). To move the pointer, you rotate the ball with your thumb, your fingers, or the palm of your hand. There are usually one to three buttons next to the ball, which you use just like mouse buttons.

Figure 10

The advantage of trackballs over mouse is that the trackball is stationary so it does not require much space to use it. In addition, you can place a trackball on any type of surface, including your lap. For both these reasons, trackballs are popular pointing devices for portable computers.

2.1.4.2 Output Devices


Output devices return processed data that is information, back to the user. Some of the commonly used output devices are: 1. Monitor (Visual Display Unit) 2. Printers 3. Plotter 4. Speakers

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2.1.4.2.1 Monitor
Out of all the output devices, monitor (as shown in figure 11) is perhaps the most

important, because it is the output device that people interact with most intensively. Computer information is displayed, visually with a video adapter card and monitor. Information processed within the CPU, that needs to be visually displayed, is sent to video adapter. The video adapter converts information from the format used, in the same manner as a television displays information sent to it by a cable service.

Figure 11

Two basic types of monitors are used with microcomputers, which are as follows: 1. CRT 2. LCD
Cathode Ray Tube (CRT): The first is the typical monitor that you see on a desktop

computer. It looks a lot like a television screen, and works the same way. This type uses a large vacuum tube, called cathode ray tube (CRT).
Liquid Crystal Displays: The second type, known as a flat panel monitor, is commonly

used with notebook computer. Most of these employ liquid crystal displays (LCDs) to render images. Either of these types can be monochrome, displaying one colour against a contrasting background (often black), or displaying all colours.

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When people talk about the capabilities of various monitors, one critical statistic is the resolution of the monitor. Today, most monitors have a resolution of at least 800 x 600 pixels. High-end monitors can have resolutions of 1024 x 768 pixels or even 1280 x 1024 pixels. Thus both, monochrome and coloured monitors are available either in low resolution or in high resolution.

2.1.4.2.2 Printer
After a document is created on the computer, it can be sent to a printer for a hard copy (printout). Some printers offer special features such as coloured and large page formats. Some of the most commonly used printers are: 1. Laser Printer 2. Dot Matrix Printer 3. Ink Jet Printer 4. Line Printer

Figure 12: Laser Printer and Ink-Jet Printer

Laser Printer: A laser printer produces high quality print that one normally finds in publishing. It is extremely fast and quiet. Moreover, the operation of a laser printer is extremely easy with automatic paper loading and no smudging or messing up of ink ribbons. Most laser printers output 6 to 12 pages per minute. Minimum buffer memory in a laser printer is 1 MB.

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Dot Matrix Printer: The dot matrix printer (DMP, in short) is a very versatile and inexpensive output device and is suitable for most of our computing jobs. In a DMP, the print head physically "hits" the paper through the ribbon and produces text (or images) by combinations of dots; hence the name dot matrix printer. Its speed is measured in characters per second (CPS). Although DMP is less expensive, but it is louder, slower and produces lower print quality than a laser printer. Ink-Jet Printer: An ink-jet printer creates an image directly on paper by spraying ink through as many as 64 tiny nozzles. Although the image it produces is not generally quite as sharp as the output of a laser printer, the quality of ink-jet images is still high. In general, ink-jet printer offers an excellent middle ground between dot matrix and laser printer, providing print resolution of around 360 or more dots per inch. Like laser printer, an ink-jet printer is quiet and convenient, but not particularly fast. Typically, an ink-jet printer is more expensive than a dot-matrix printer, but costs only half as much as a laser printer. Line Printer: A line printer is generally used with large computer systems to produce text based data processing reports. Line printers are high-speed printers with speeds ranging anywhere from 100 to about 3800 lines per minute. In the past, print quality on line printers was not high. Developments in technology are improving the print quality on line printers. These are in the cost range of lacs.

2.1.4.2.3 Plotter
A plotter is a special kind of output device that, like a printer, produces images on paper, but does so in a different way. Plotters are designed to produce large drawings or images, such as construction plans for buildings or blueprints for mechanical objects. A plotter can be connected to the port normally used by a printer. An array of different coloured pens in a clip rack and a robotic arm is part of plotter. The instructions that a plotter receives from a computer consist of a colour, and beginning and ending coordinates for a line. With that information, the plotter picks up the appropriate pen through its arm, positions it at the beginning coordinates, drops the pen down to the surface of the paper and draws to the ending coordinates. Plotters draw curves by creating a sequence of very short straight lines.

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Plotters usually come in two designs: 1. Flat Bed: Plotters of small size to be kept on table with restriction of paper size. 2. Drum: These plotters are of big size using rolls of paper of unlimited length.

2.1.4.2.4 Speakers
Speakers (as shown in figure 13) are output device, which allow you to listen to voice like music, even conversation with people.

Figure 13

2.1.4.3 Other Peripherals 2.1.4.3.1 Floppy Disk Drive:


A floppy disk drive is a device that reads and writes data to and from floppy disks. The drive includes a spindle that rotates the disk, and read/write heads, that move in and out as the disk spins, to position themselves on any spot of the disks surface, making possible random access on the disk.

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All disk drives have indicator lights that show when the disk is actually being used.

Figure 14: Disk drive for 3.5 floppy

2.1.4.3.2 Hard Disk Drive


Unlike floppy disks, where the disk and drive are separate, the hard-disk drive, or hard drive, is the whole unit. It includes the hard disk, the motor that spins the platters, and a number of read/write heads. Generally, one cannot remove the hard disk from its drive; the two terms are used interchangeably to mean the whole unit, both disk and drive. However, some manufacturers make removable hard disks that plug into a separate drive unit.

2.1.4.3.3 Tape Drive


Tape drives read and write data to the surface of a tape the same way an audiocassette recorder does. The difference is that a computer tape drive writes digital data instead of analog data, i.e., discrete "ones and "zeros instead of finely graduated signals created by sounds.

2.1.4.3.4 Modem
A modem enables your computer to receive/send data from/to remote places through telephone lines, to the other computer provided each has a compatible modem. These are attached to serial port of the computer. Modems are used to connect a computer to a remote network through dial-up or leased line connections. A modem is controlled by using a communication program.

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Some of the On-line services, one can avail through a modem, are: Electronic mail, banking and travel reservations, File transfers, Fax Services, Internet access

Modems of varying speeds, measurable in Megabits per second (M bps), are available in the market. Some of the common speeds are 14.4 Mbps, 28.8 Mbps, 33.7 Mbps and 56.4 Mbps.

2.1.4.3.5 Fax
In the present day computer systems, FAX machines (as shown in figure 15) can be attached with a computer to send and receive documents created in the computer to distant places, bringing computers and communication together. The suite packages, available nowadays, are also well equipped to send a document through the fax machine attached to your computer.

Figure 15

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2.2

Software

Computer needs instructions to tell it what to do, how to do and when to do. Thus the electronic instructions well defined and well organized, that people write to tell the hardware what to do to get desired results, are called programs. Software refers to a set of programs that makes the hardware perform a particular set of tasks in a particular order. Software can be classified mainly in two categories as follows (as shown in figure 16).

Software

System Software

Application Software

Operating System

Utilities

General Purpose

Compilers for High Level Languages

Figure 16

2.2.1 System Software


System software is responsible for the running of the computer and management of computer resources. Operating System (OS) falls under this category. An operating system is system software that provides an interface for a user to communicate with the computer, manages hardware devices (disk drives, a keyboard, a monitor, and so on), manages and maintains disk file systems, and supports application programs. Some of the popular operating systems are, DOS, Unix, UNIXWARE, Windows, OS/2 Warp, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows xp and LINUX etc.

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Although OS developers try to provide all the features users need to use and maintain their systems, inevitably, they do not meet everyones expectations. This has led to another type of system software called utilities. These are programs that bridge the gap between the functionality of an OS and the needs of users. Utility programs are a broad category of software. They range from programs that can organise or compress the files on a disk to programs that provide a menu interface to a command-line OS. For example, Norton Utilities, Antivirus software, Network resources management etc.

2.2.2 Application Software


There are two types of application software: 1. General Purpose Software: - for creation of files of various types. 2. Computer languages: - for designing customized applications.

2.2.2.1 General Purpose Software 2.2.2.1.1 General Purpose Application Software


These are user-friendly software to help the user write letters, analyze numbers, sort files, draw pictures and even play games. It is a group of programs that provide general-purpose tools to solve specific problems. Some of the application softwares are listed below: Word Processing software like: WordStar WordPerfect MS-Word Data Analysis (Spreadsheets): Lotus 1-2-3 SCO Professional MS-Excel

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Data Management: DBase IV Fox plus FoxPro MS-Access Lotus Approach Oracle DB2 SQL Server Desk Top Publishing: Ventura PageMaker CorelDraw Press Works etc. Graphics Tools: Adobe Photoshop Paint Shop Pro Presentations: Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation Graphics Internet Browsers: Microsoft Internet Explorer Netscape Navigator

2.2.2.1.2

Computer Languages Compilers

Some of the popular high-level languages, that can be used to develop application softwares are, C, C++, Visual Basic, Visual C++, JAVA, and Smalltalk etc. The applications developed using these languages are compiled by their respective compilers and are executed to obtain desired results.

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3. Classification of Computers
3.1 According to the purpose, computers can be divided into the following categories:
1. Digital Computers 2. Analog Computers 3. Hybrid Computers

3.1.1 Digital Computers


The system works with digits. In other words, a digital computer is a counting device. All the expressions are coded into binary digits (0 and 1) inside the computers and it manipulates them at a very fast speed. The digital computer circuits are designed and fabricated by the manufactures and are quite complicated ones. A digital computer manipulates data according to the instructions (program) given to it in one of the computer languages. The instructions and data are fed to the computer in the form of discrete electrical signals. Most computers are digital4.

3.1.2 Analog Computers


Unlike a digital computer, it works by measuring voltages and currents rather than by the process of counting. An analog computer works on supply of continuous electrical signals and displays output continuously. The accuracy of these machines is quite low although they are faster in speed as compared to digital computers.

The word "computer" is a synonym of a digital computer.

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3.1.3 Hybrid
Hybrid Computer is one, which combines best features of analog and digital computers. These machines are generally used for scientific applications and in industrial control processes.

3.2 According to size computers can be divided into following categories: 3.2.1 Supercomputers
A supercomputer is the most powerful computer available at a given time. These machines are built to process huge amounts of information and to do so very quickly. For example, scientists build models of complex processes and simulate the processes on a supercomputer.

3.2.2 Mainframe Computers


The largest type of computer in common use is the mainframe. They are designed to handle tremendous amounts of input, output, and storage. For example, consider the airlines reservation system. One can get his/her air ticket booked at one of the various reservation counters, each of which has many employees working at computer terminals. A terminal is a special kind of computer that does not have its own CPU or storage; it is just an I/O device that acts as a window into another computer located somewhere else. The terminals are connected to a database residing in and controlled by a mainframe computer that can handle the input and output needs of all the terminals connected to it. A typical mainframe computer is characterised by vast amounts of memory with many hard disks in several gigabytes range, one or more tape drives, several line printers, a separate computer room, a false floor (for under-floor cabling) and tight security.

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3.2.3 Minicomputers
The best way to describe a minicomputer is that its capabilities lie somewhere between those of mainframes and those of personal computers. Like mainframes, minicomputers can handle a great deal of input and output than personal computers can. Minicomputers are relatively inexpensive and ideal for academic institutions and small business houses.

3.2.4 Personal Computers


The terms personal computers and microcomputers are interchangeable and generally refer to the small computers that are commonly found in offices, classrooms and homes. Personal computers or PCs come in all shapes and sizes, although most models reside on desktops, others stand on the floor, and some are even portable. A desktop model is the most common style of PC and it is small enough to fit on a desk but a little too big to carry around with you. Among the portable computers, a notebook computer approximates the shape of an 8 -by 11-inch notebook and can easily fit inside a briefcase. Laptops are the slightly larger predecessors of notebook computers. Notebooks and laptops are fully functional microcomputers and are used by those people who need the power of a full computer wherever they go. Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are the smallest of portable computers. No larger than a chequebook, PDAs are also called palmtops. They are much less powerful than notebook or desktop models and are generally used for displaying important telephone numbers and addresses or keeping track of dates and agendas. Many can be connected to larger computers to exchange data. Note: With the fast changing technology, present day PCs are having the capabilities of mainframes or minicomputers. Thus, the line of distinction between different types of computers is getting blurred day by day and have rendering the above classification meaningless.

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4. File System in Computers


The information, which is stored in the computer, needs to be properly organized for easy access and better management. A file acts as the basic unit to organise information in computers. Data/Instructions are stored in the form of a file that is assigned a unique name. Files may be grouped together and kept in a storage space called folder. Each folder can have subfolders or subdirectories. The information in subdirectories is stored in the form of files. Of course, there may be subdirectories of subdirectories, but a file name is the furthest one may descend down the (inverted) tree of directories and files. The files are organised in a hierarchical (inverted tree-like) structure. Presented below is a diagram of a typical file system structure (Figure 17).

Folder

File

Figure 17

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Files Nomenclature Hints 1. The names are not case-sensitive in DOS and Windows. It does not matter whether uppercase or lowercase letters are used while typing their names. In UNIX, however, file names are case sensitive. 2. File name may have two parts: the name and the extension; these parts are separated by a period. The first name or the primary name reflects the contents of the file while the extension (after the period) or the secondary name indicates what type of information the file contains. The secondary name is optional. Sometimes, extensions are suffixed by the operating system automatically, and at times, given by the user. 3. A file name cannot contain spaces, commas, backslashes or periods (Except the period that separates the name from the extension). 4. It cannot be identical to the name of another file or subdirectory in the same directory. Further, in a directory all the file names have to be unique. If you include an extension to a file name, you must specify it each time you refer to the file. Some of the valid file names are as follows:
Type of File Notepad File Paintbrush File Word Excel PowerPoint Database Executable File name and Extension Type.txt Painting.bmp Document.doc Book.xls Presentation.ppt Db1.mdb Game.exe

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5. Computing Environments
5.1 Single User
The complete PC family belongs to this category. At a time only one person can work on the computer.

5.2 Multi User


Many users can simultaneously work on the computer and share its resources.

5.3 Networked Environment


Networks are groups of computers and peripherals connected together to share data and information.

5.3.1 Classification of networks


1. Local area network (LAN): covers a small geographic area such as one office or a building. 2. Wide area network (WAN): covers a large geographic area such as several cities or even countries. 3. Metropolitan area network (MAN): covers an area larger than LANs, but smaller than WANs. These networks are designed for a town or a city.

5.3.2 Advantages of Networking


1. Resource sharing
One computer in a network can access data and resources of another computer in the same network. The physical location of any computer has no effect on network's resource sharing property.

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2. Reliability
- One can store multiple copies of files and data on multiple nodes, so even if one computer goes off the data wouldn't be lost.

3. Cost effectiveness
- We can use large number of small computers than small number of large computers. This helps in improving cost/performance ratio.

4. Communication media
- Networks act as a strong communication media between distant placed employees of an organisation.

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6. Personal Computer Characteristics


Following are the factors that influence Personal Computers Performance: 1. CPU: High performance, compatibility and upgradability are features that are important. The higher the generation, the better the system. For example, Pentium IV gives better performance than Pentium III. Some examples of processors are Pentium series, consisting of models like Pentium I, Pentium Pro, Pentium MMX, Pentium II & III and now the most powerful computer being Pentium IV. 2. Clock Rate (MHz): The faster the clock rate, the better the CPU works. The Pentium processors have the ability to execute multiple instructions per clock cycle.
3.

RAM (MB): The storage capacity of RAM is also important. Today, advanced operating systems require at least 4 megabytes just to boot up a computer. Using more than one application at a time requires at least 8 megabytes. The benefits of adding more RAM include letting you open more applications at the same time, and working with large files or documents. More memory may also make your machine run much faster.

4. Cache presence (measured in MB): L1 cache: The bigger the on-chip cache size, the better as more instructions and data can be stored on the chip, it reduces the number of times the processor has to access slower, off chip memory areas, to get data. L2 cache: System memories composed of dynamic RAM (DRAM) alone have not been able to keep up with the increase in CPU speeds over the years. In order to optimize the memory performance in these systems, designers are implementing architectures using cache memory, resulting in speed increases up to 45%. Expanding secondary cache (example

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from 128K to 512K) can greatly improve the performance of some applications. 5. Hard Disk Capacity (measured in MB): High performance hard disks have at least 1.2G of capacity. 6. Video card: A full- featured PCI-compliant VGA (Video Graphics Adapter) card, with at least 1 to 2 MB of video RAM, will further accelerate graphics performance. 7. CD-ROM drive speed: - If you are running or installing any software from CD, higher the speed betters the performance. Example, drive of speed 40X, 48X. 8. MMX processors: - Multimedia extensions processors are designed specifically to support media-rich software and communication applications. The Pentium processor with MMX technology gives a better, smoother and more realistic multimedia performance.

7. Computer Limitations
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Thinking limitations Human ego problems Computer crimes Computer virus Mismatch between technological advancements and their implementation Standards enforcement problems Machine dependency problems Risk of equipment failure Equipment downtime and recovery

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8. Emerging Trends
Computer technology is changing very fast. Trend is towards end user computing by providing user-friendly menu driven/pop up screens type software. The advancement in technology has not only revolutionized the hardware and software but its impact can be seen in the varied applications. Hardware From mainframe computers (very big in size) to PC (portable), size is decreasing. Improved devices to input data Capabilities are increasing Cost is decreasing

Software More user friendly and more realistic interface. Easy to use. More user- defined softwares are available. Computer languages are changed from procedural languages like C to objectoriented like JAVA.

Networking Use of Optical fibres High speed networks Low-orbit satellites

Applications Suite Packages for Office Automation Value Added Services Over Network World Wide Web Services Client Server Technology applications Distributed processing applications Multimedia based applications

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Video conferencing. Enterprise Computing Electronic Commerce Mobile Commerce E-Governance

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9. Working with Computers


9.1 How to start a computer
? ? ? ? ? Switch on the UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). Switch on the power button on the processor. Switch on the monitor. Do the settings for brightness; color if required from the monitor buttons. Dont press any key till the system booting is over.

Figure 18: The picture shows the connections of a monitor and a CPU

Boot: When computer starts, the operating system is first loaded (as it is essential for running all other programs), this process is known as booting. Cold Boot: -When you turn the computer ON from an OFF position. Warm Boot: - When you reset the computer that is already ON.

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9.2 Familiarization with Keyboard


Function Keys Backspace Delete Key

LEDs

Alphanumeric Keys

Space Bar

Enter

Cursor Movement Keys

Numeric Keys

Figure 19: Picture shows different keys of a keyboard

FUNCTIONS OF IMPORTANT KEYS S.No I. 1. 2. II. III. 1. Key Symbol Name of key Function Alphabet keys a-z To key in alphabets from a to z. A-Z To key in alphabets in capital letters using Shift key/Caps Lock key Numeric Keys To key in digits from 0 to 9. 0-9 Special Keys Enter/Return To be pressed when command / instruction is completed and is to be communicated to CPU.

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2. 3. 4. 5.

Ctrl Alt Esc Del

Control Alternate Escape Delete

6. 7. 8. Ins

Space Bar Insert Backspace

Used for certain functions when combined with other keys. Used for certain functions when combined with other keys. Used for giving Escape sequences. Generally used by programs to Cancel (or escape from) the last command that was issued. Used by application programs to delete character at the cursor position at or right hand side of the cursor position. Used to insert a blank or a space. Used by application programs to insert characters. Toggles between insert and over write mode Used to delete back a character i.e. a character placed at the left hand side of the cursor position. Used to indent tabs on formatting

9. Tab 10. 11. 12. 13. a) b) c) d) IV. Shift

Tabulation

V. a)

To key in capitals when Caps Lock is OFF and vice versa. Print Scrn Print Screen To transfer screen output to printer. Pause Halt To temporarily halt the screen scrolling. Cursor Movement Keys Up arrow Moves cursor up one line. Down arrow Moves cursor down one line. Right arrow Moves cursor one character to the right. Left arrow Moves cursor one character to the left. Function Keys F1-F12 Special purpose keys, defined by various application packages to accomplish specific functions. Lock Keys Caps Lock Capital Lock Toggles between lowercase and uppercase

Shift

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b) c)

Num Lock Scroll Lock

Numerical Lock Scroll Lock

letters. Toggles between numbers and cursor movement keys. Toggle key used to stop/start the scrolling of the text on the screen.

9.3 Familiarization with mouse


? ? ? ? ? Rest heel of your hand on the table in front of the mouse. Hold the mouse between thumb and ring and little fingers. Use thumb and fingers to move the tip of the arrow. When the arrow becomes a pointing finger, hold the mouse still. Lightly click the mouse button with your index finger If your mouse has more than one button, use the left mouse button only for normal clicking. Note: If you click the right mouse button, a menu will be displayed with various options you can select (shortcuts).

Left Mouse Button

Right Mouse Button

Figure 20: Picture shows left and right mouse buttons of a mouse

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10. Commonly Used Computer Terms


Abort Algorithm Animation To stop a program or function before it has finished. A set of instructions that provides a solution to a given problem. A simulation of movement created by displaying a series of pictures, or frames. For example, cartoons on television. American National Standards Institute, a powerful industry association of USA, promoting Programming language standards. For example, ANSI C. A utility that searches a hard disk for viruses and removes any, that is found. A design. It can refer to either hardware or software or to a combination of hardware and software. The architecture of a system defines its broad outlines. American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This is a seven/eight bit code widely used in computers for the transfer of data. The amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time. It is usually expressed in bits per second (bps) or bytes per second. The smallest unit of information in computer system. Bit is short for binary digit; either a "1 or a "0". The process of getting the computer started.

ANSI

Antivirus Program Architecture

ASCII

Bandwidth

Bit Boot

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Byte Cache

A byte is made up of 8 bits. The amount of memory it takes to store a single character. A separate area of Primary Memory (RAM) where the computer stores a copy of frequently used information for quick access. This is meant to speed up the operation of the hard disk. Compact Disk-Read Only Memory. This is a permanent storage device used to store large quantities of information that need not be changed. Color Graphics Adapter. Low-resolution (640x200 pixels) with color capability. A number, letter, symbol, or punctuation mark. A small piece of silicon containing thousands or millions of electrical elements. Also called an Integrated Circuit (IC). The ability of one device or program to work with another device or program. For example, a printer and a computer are said to be compatible if they can be connected to each other. The first 640K of electronic Memory (RAM) in a computer used to run OS and applications. Service that computer and software manufacturers offer to customers. In computer related systems, fixing software related problem is known as debugging. To scan a piece of artwork in very fine detail and store it in a form that computer understands. screen

CD-ROM

CGA Character Chip

Compatible

Conventional Memory Customer-Support Debug Digitize

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DOS Double Density

It stands for Disk Operating System. It is a single user operating system. The amount of information a disk can hold. Double Density disk holds less information than High Density disks. Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc. A type of microprocessor. A DX is faster and more powerful than an SX, but slower and less powerful than a DX2. Refers to actions that take place at the moment they are needed rather than in advance. Electronic Data Processing Enhanced Graphics Adapter. Middle resolution screen with colour capabilities. Electronic Mail. A facility to send electronic messages to another person on a computer network. The end user is the individual who uses the product after it has been fully developed and marketed. Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. A type of ROM that can be programmed or reprogrammed usually by exposing a normally covered sector to UV-Light. The study of the workplace and furniture design in relation to work processes with a view to enhance productivity.

DVD DX

Dynamic EDP EGA E-Mail End-User EPROM

Ergonomics

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Extended Memory

Memory in addition to conventional memory used to run and manage applications; together with expanded memory, it helps PCs to address increased amounts of data in memory. A way of transmitting copies of documents over telephone lines. Fax is short for Facsimile. Abbreviated as GB, is equal to 1024 MB. Graphical User Interface. A user interface that works visually and is based on the selection of actions using a mouse or a similar pointing device to click on icons or to pick options from menus; see also icon. A unit of frequency that means Cycles per Second. The amount of information a disk can hold. High Density disks hold more information than Double Density disks. A method of presenting information so the user can view it in a non-sequential way, regardless of how the topics were originally arranged. It has now evolved as a flexible software technology to create electronic books; provides fast and flexible access to search criteria and provides quick access to information in large documents. Hyper Text Markup Language. A markup or structuring language used to describe Web and Intranet documents. It is used to define structure, appearance and placement of HTML elements including, fonts, graphics, text, hypertext links to other sites and many more details. International Business multinational Company. Machines, a USA based

Fax/Facsimile Gigabyte GUI

Hertz High Density Hypertext

HTML

IBM

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Icon

A graphical screen element that executes one or more commands when selected with a mouse or other pointing device Integrated Device Electronics, a standard used for connecting hard drive to a computer. IDE hard drives are very common and relatively inexpensive. The manufacturer of the most popular microprocessors or CPUs. See Chip. Printer combining laser, computer and photocopying technology. The world's largest computer network that links many of the scientific, research and educational computers as well as commercial networks. The internet uses TCP/IP protocols, and computers on Internet can run on any operating system, like, several variations of UNIX, Windows NT, and VMS etc. In the most general sense, a private corporate network that uses Internet technology based software and TCP/IP protocol standards. Many companies use intranets for tasks as simple as distributing a company letter and for tasks as complex as posting and updating technical support bulletins to service personnel worldwide. An intranet does not always include a permanent connection to Internet. Approximately one thousand characters; actually 1024 bytes.

IDE

Intel Integrated Circuit Intelligent Printer Internet

Intranet

Kilobyte (K, KB)

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LAN

An acronym for local area network. A system of PCs that are located relatively near to each other and connected by wire so that individual users can cooperatively process information and share resources; see also WAN. A portable computer, small enough to be held on a lap, but slightly larger than a notebook computer. Light Emitting Diode. An electronic device that lights up when electricity is passed through it. An input device that allows a user to write on or point to a special pad or the screen of a pen-based computer, such as a PDA. A PC based on a Motorola microprocessor employing GUI. Apple Macintosh has been in use since late eighties. A symbol, name, or key that represents a list of commands, actions or keystrokes. Part of the microprocessor; a companion chip designed to perform complex calculations. Approximately one million characters; actually 1,048,576 bytes. A measure of memory or storage. A measure of processing speed. The higher the value, the faster a computer can work. A single chip containing all the elements of a computer's CPU.

Laptop Computer LED Light Pen

Macintosh

Macro Math co-processor Megabyte (M, MB) Megahertz (MHz) Microprocessor

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8086} Early generations of microprocessors. 8088} 80286} 80386 80486 MIPS Mother Board

Early generations of microprocessors.

Third generation microprocessors. The 80386 are more powerful than the 80286. The Fourth generation of microprocessors. The 80486 are more powerful than the 80386. Million Instructions Per Seconds, a unit for measuring the speed of a computer. The main circuit board of a computer, which carries electrical signals to and from various parts of the computer. It involves a new processing technology and more onchip cache memory to enhance the speed and quality of applications that incorporate video, sound and other multimedia elements. MMX technology is independent of the operating system A computer system that combines text, graphics, animation, music, voice and video media; may include stereo speakers as an output device. It refers to a computer systems ability to support more than one process at the same time. It is also called multitasking. Half a byte i.e. 4bits. This is data storage that does not lose its contents on power off; for example, ROM.

MMX technology

Multimedia

Multiprocessing

Nibble Non-Volatile Memory

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Notebook Computer Numeric keypad

A portable computer, approximately 8 by 11 inches, that fits inside a briefcase. The part of a keyboard that looks like an adding machine, with 10 digits and mathematical operators; usually located on the right side of the keyboard. The use of computer systems to execute a variety of office operations, such as word processing, accounting and Email. An outlet on a computer used to attach a device, such as a printer. A parallel port sends data (bits) down the wire side by side (parallel to each other). The fifth generation of microprocessors. The Pentium is 2 to 3 times faster than the 80486, the fourth generation of microprocessors. Any piece of hardware attached to the outside of a computer. Examples are printers and modems. Short for "Picture Element". A Pixel is the smallest dot the computer can control on the screen. A small computer that usually runs on batteries. In the categories of portable computers are laptop, notebook, sub-notebook and palmtop. See microprocessor. Personal Digital Assistant. The smallest of portable computers, about the size of a chequebook; much less powerful than a notebook or a laptop.

Office-Automation

Parallel Port

Pentium

Peripheral Pixel Portable computer

Processor PDA

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Protocol

In networking and communications, the formal specification that defines the procedures to follow when transmitting and receiving data. Protocol defines the format, timing, sequence and error checking used on the network. The size and quantity of dots that make up a printed page, screen or scanned image. An error that occurs during the execution of a program. An input device used to copy a printed document into a computers memory in digital form, without requiring manual keying. Small Computer System Interface. A standard for connecting a hard drive to a computer. An outlet on a computer used to attach a device, such as a modem. A serial port sends data (bits) down the wire one at a time (in a series). It is an update to a software version that fixes an existing problem, such as a bug or provides enhancements to the product that will appear in the next version of the product. A type of microprocessor. SL includes special features to extend the battery life of portable computer. It is a packaged collection of application software, which are commonly used in an office/organisation to enhance office-productivity. A suite package allows the users to integrate and share files of different applications of the package; also lets the users communicate with each other and share the applications and datafiles in a network. Examples are MS-Office and Lotus SmartSuite

Resolution Runtime Error Scanner

SCSI Serial Port

Service Pack

SL Suite Package

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SVGA SX TCP/IP

Super Video Graphics Array. A very high-resolution video adapter or monitor. A type of microprocessor. SX is less powerful than a DX or DX2 microprocessor. Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol is a set of communication protocols that encompass media access, packet transport, session communications, file transfer, e-mail, and terminal emulation. TCP/IP is supported by a large number of H/W and S/W vendors and is available on many computer systems, from PCs to mainframes. It is also the basis for the Internet; see also Internet, Intranet. To isolate the source of a problem and fix it. In case of computer systems, troubleshoot is usually used when the problem is hardware related. A multi user operating system. A powerful client-server operating system based on UNIX. A new version of a software or hardware product designed to replace an older version of the same product. Uninterruptible Power Supply. It is a power supply that includes a battery to maintain power in the event of a power cut for several minutes to some hours. A program that performs a very specific task, usually related to managing system resources.

Troubleshoot

UNIX UNIXWARE Upgrade

UPS

Utility

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Video Conferencing

Conducting a conference between two or more participants at different sites by using computer networks to transmit audio and video data. Wide Area Network. Two or more LANs connected together, generally across wide geographical area; see also LAN. A portion of visual display screen used to show the current status of an application of interest. Moving pointer with the help of a mouse can select a window option. This facility is made available by Windows based operating systems and they provide platform for Graphical User Interface. A WWW client application that one uses to look at hypertext documents and follow links to other HTML documents on the web. The word size is the number of bits the CPU can process at a time. World Wide Web, W3 or simply called Web. A huge collection of hypertext pages on the Internet. See also hypertext.

WAN

WINDOW

Web Browser

Word Size WWW

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