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Our lifestyles have undergone a sea change with the advancement in technology especially in
the field of computers. Computers are an integral part of our lifestyles today and are found at
offices, homes, schools, colleges, hotels, shops etc. This advance in technology has made our
lives easy and comfortable. For instance, we can execute a number of activities using computer
based systems- we can write a draft on word processor and email it, make calculations using an
electronic spreadsheet and incorporate graphics, create a database of friends with their phone
numbers, addresses and e-mail ids etc. It is an arduous process to perform these activities using
existing traditional methods.Computers can also simplify other tasks such as word processing,
designing, web site development, database management etc. Therefore, a computer should be
referred to as a data processor.
The computer comprises of technologically advanced hardware put together to work at great
speed. To accomplish its various tasks, the computer is made of different parts, each serving a
particular purpose in conjunction with other parts. In other words, a 'computer' is an ensemble of
different machines that you will be using to accomplish your job. A computer is primarily made
of the Central Processing Unit, the monitor, the keyboard and the mouse. Other pieces of
hardware, commonly referred to as peripherals, can enhance or improve your experience with the
The origin of computer technology took place in the 19th century. People desired to have a
machine that would carry out mathematical calculations for them. The ABACUS is considered to
have been the first computer in the world. It was used to perform simple measurements and
calculations. ABACUS is available even today for school going children. In the 17th century, a
scientist named Pascal developed a machine that could perform mathematical calculations. This
machine comprised of a number of gears. The movement of gear mechanism was used to
perform some calculations. He named the machine PASCALINE. However, the concept of the
modern computer was propounded by the scientist and mathematician Charles Babbage. He first
wrote on the use of logic and loops in process execution. Based on the concept of logic and
loops, Babbage envisaged two models for performing computations- Analytical Engine and
Difference Engine. In those days, electronics was not developed. Therefore, these models
proposed by Babbage existed only on paper. However, the ideas given by Babbage were
implemented after the invention of electronics. George Boolean developed the famous Boolean
Algebra based on binary numbers. De Morgan put forward theorems on logic gates. These
theorems are known as De Morgans Theorems. Lady Ada was the first computer programmer.
The real application of computers began in the late fifties. The computers were used in the
United States for various applications such as census, defence, R&D, universities etc.
Compared to traditional systems, computers offer many noteworthy advantages. This is one
reason that traditional systems are being replaced rapidly by computer-based systems. The main
advantages offered by computers are as follows:
1. High Accuracy
2. Superior Speed of Operation


Large Storage Capacity

User-friendly Features
Platform independence
Economical in the long term

Computers are classified in a variety of ways depending upon the principles of
working,construction, size and applications. Various types of computers are discussed in this
ANALOG COMPUTERS:- The computers that process analog signals are known as Analog
Computers. The analog signal is a continuous signal. For example, sine wave is an analog signal.
The analog quantities are based on decimal number systems. Examples of Analog computers are
the slide rule, ABACUS etc. The operational amplifiers are widely used in the construction of
analog computers when the analog electrical signal is to be processed. For example, a
differentiator is the op amp circuit that differentiates input signal. If the input signal V sin q is
given to analog computer, the output would be V cos q. Accordingly, the analog computer that
generates the second order differential equation can be drawn as given in

Figure 1.1 Analog computer

DIGITAL COMPUTERS: Computers that process digital signals are known as Digital
Computers. The Digital signal is a discrete signal with two states 0 and 1. In practice, the digital
computers are used
and not analog. Examples of digital computers are personal computers, supercomputers,
computers etc. Supercomputers are the most powerful computers in terms of speed of execution
and large storage capacity. NASA uses supercomputers to track and control space explorations.

Mainframe Computers Are next to supercomputers in terms of capacity. The mainframe

computers are multi terminal computers, which can be shared simultaneously by multiple users.
Unlike personal computers, mainframe computers offer time-sharing. For example, insurance
companies use mainframe computers to process information about millions of its policyholders.
Minicomputers These computers are also known as midrange computers. These are desk-sized
machines and are used in medium scale applications. For example, production departments use
minicomputers to monitor various manufacturing processes and assembly-line operations.
Microcomputers As compared to supercomputers, mainframes and minicomputers,
microcomputers are the least powerful, but these are very widely used and rapidly gaining in
popularity. Personal Computer PC is the term referred to the computer that is designed for use by
a single person. PCs are also called microcontrollers because these are smaller when compared to
mainframes and minicomputers. The term PC is frequently used to refer to desktop computers.
Although PCs are used by individuals, they can also be used in computer networks.

1. Desktop Computer : This is the most commonly used personal computer. It comprisesof
a keyboard, mouse, monitor and system unit. The system unit is also known as cabinet or
chassis. It is the container that houses most of the components such as motherboard, disk
drives, ports,switch mode power supply and add-on cards etc. The desktopcomputers are
available in two models- horizontal model and tower model.Laptops Are also called
notebook computers. These are the portable computers. They have a size of 8.5 x 11 inch
and weigh about three-to-four kilos.
2. Palmtops Palmtops are also called handheld computers. These are computing devices,
which are small enough to fit into your palm. The size of a palmtop is like an
appointment book. The palmtops are generally kept for personal use such as taking notes,
developing a list of friends, keeping track of dates, agendas etc.The Palmtop can also be
connected to a PC for downloading data. It also provides value-added features such as
voice input, Internet, cell phone, camera, movie player and GPS.

3. Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) is the palm type computer. It combines pen input,
writing recognition, personal organisational tools and communication capabilities in a
small package.
Basic elements of a computer system are Mouse, Keyboard, monitor, memory, CPU,
motherboard, Hard Disk, Speakers, Modem, power supply and processor.
A. Mouse: Mouse is used for operating the system. Nowadays, optical mouse is more
popular as compared to simple mouse.
B. Keyboard: Keyboard is used to input data in to the system so that thesystem gives output
to the user. Therefore, the keyboard is an integral part of the input system. A computer is
essentially incomplete without a keyboard.
C. Monitor: Monitor, which again is a very essential part of the computer system, displays
the actions that the computer performs on our command.
D. Motherboard: Motherboard again a necessary element of the computer system contains
different elements as memory, processor,modem, slots for graphic card and LAN card.
E. Hard Disk: Hard disk is used to store data permanently on computer.
F. Modem: Modem is used to connecting to the Internet. Two types of modems are widely
used. One is known as software modems and the other is known as hardware modems.
G. Speakers: Speakers are also included in basic elements of a computer. It is not
indispensible, because a computer can perform itsfunction without speakers. However,
we use them to for multiple purposes.
A computer can be defined as an electronic device that accepts data from an input device,
processes it, stores it in a disk and finally displays it on an output device such as a monitor. To
understand the basic rudiments of the functioning of the computer refer to the basic block
diagram of a computer as shown in Fig. 1.3 This flow of information holds true for all types of
computers such as Personal Computers, Laptops, Palmtops etc. In other words, the fundamental
principle of working is the same.

Figure 1.3 Block diagram of computer

As shown in Fig , there are four main building blocks in a computer's functioning input,
processor, output and memory. The data is entered through input devices like the keyboard, disks
or mouse. These input devices help convert data and programs into the language that the
computer can process.

The data received from the keyboard is processed by the CPU, i.e. the Central Processing Unit.
The CPU controls and manipulates the data that produce information. The CPU is usually housed
within the protective cartridge. The processed data is either stored in the memory or sent to the
output device, as per the command given by the user. The memory unit holds data and program
instructions for processing data. Output devices translate the processed information from the
computer into a form that we can understand.
A. MOTHERBOARD: The motherboard is the main component inside the case. It is a large
board with integrated circuitry that connects the various parts of the computer as the CPU, RAM,
Disk drives (CD, DVD, Hard disk or any others) as well as any other peripherals connected via
the ports or the expansion slots. Components directly attached to the motherboard include:
The central processing unit (CPU) performs most of the calculations that enable a
computer to function and is sometimes referred to as the "brain" of the computer. It is
usually cooled by a heat sink and fan.
The chip set aids communication between the CPU and the other components of the
system, including main memory.
RAM (Random Access Memory) stores all running processes (applications) and the
current running OS.
The BIOS includes boot firmware and power management. The Basic Input Output
System tasks are handled by operating system drivers.
Internal Buses connect the CPU to various internal components and to expansion cards
for graphics and sound.
PCI Express, for expansion cards such as graphics and physics processors, and high-end
network interfaces.PCI, for other expansion cards
SATA, for disk drives.
ATA (superseded by SATA)
AGP (superseded by PCI Express)
ISA (expansion card slot format obsolete in PCs but still used in industrial computers)\
External Bus Controllers support ports for external peripherals. These ports may be
controlled directly by the south bridge I/O controller or based on expansion cards
attached to the motherboard through the PCI bus.
POWER SUPPLY UNIT: A power supply unit (PSU) converts alternating current (AC)
electric power to low voltage DC power for the internal components of the computer.
Some power supplies have a switch to change between 230 V and 115 V. Other models
have automatic sensors that switch input voltage automatically or are able to accept any
voltage within these limits. Power supply units used in computers are generally switch
mode power supplies (SMPS). The SMPS provides regulated direct current power at
several voltages as required by the motherboard and accessories such as disk drives and
cooling fans.

CD (compact disc): The most common type of removable media, suitable for music and
_ CD-ROM Drive: A device used for reading data from a CD
_ CD Writer: A device used for both reading and writing data to and from a CD
- DVD (digital versatile disc): A popular type of removable media that is the same size as
a CD but stores up to 12 times as much information- the most common way of transferring
digital video and is popular for data storage
_ DVD-ROM Drive: A device used for reading data from a DVD
_ DVD Writer: A device used for both reading and writing data to and from a DVD
_ DVD-RAM Drive: A device used for rapid writing and reading of data from a special
type of DVD
Blu-ray Disc: A high density optical disc format for data and high-definition video that
can store 70 times as much information as a CD
BD-ROM Drive: A device used for reading data from a Blu-ray disc
BD Writer: A device used for both reading and writing data to and from a Blu-ray disc
HD DVD: A discontinued competitor to the Blu-ray format
Floppy disk: An outdated storage device consisting of a thin disk of a flexible magnetic
storage medium used today mainly for loading RAID drivers
Iomega Zip drive: An outdated medium-capacity removable disk storage system, first
introduced by Iomega in 1994
USB flash drive: A flash memory data storage device integrated with a USB interface,
typically small, lightweight, removable and rewritable with varying capacities from hundreds of
megabytes (in the same ballpark as CDs) to tens of gigabytes (surpassing, at great expense, Bluray discs)
Tape drive: A device that reads and writes data on a magnetic tape, used for long term
storage and backups
This hardware keeps data inside the computer for later use and retains it even when the computer
has no power.
Hard disk: A device for medium-term storage of data
Solid-state drive: A device quite similar to the hard disk, but containing no moving parts and
which stores data in a digital format
RAID array controller: A device to manage several internal or external hard disks and
optionally some peripherals in order to achieve performance or reliability improvement in what
is called a RAID array
SOUND CARD : This device enables the computer to output sound to audio devices, as well as
input from a microphone. Most modern computers have sound cards built-in to the motherboard,
though it is common for a user to install a separate sound card as an upgrade. Most sound cards,
either built-in or added, have surround sound capabilities.

OTHER PERIPHERALS: In addition, hardware devices can include external components of a

system. The following are either standard or very common.
Text input devices
1. _ Keyboard: A device to input text and characters by pressing buttons (referred to as
Pointing devices
a. Mouse: A pointing device that detects two-dimensional motion relative to its
supporting surface
b. Optical Mouse: Uses light to determine motion
c. Trackball: A pointing device consisting of an exposed protruding ball housed in a
socket that detects rotation about the two axes
d. Touch screen: Senses the user pressing directly on the display
Gaming devices
a. Joystick: A control device that consists of a handheld stick that pivots around one
end, to detect angles in two or three dimensions
b. Gamepad: A handheld game controller that relies on the digits/ fingers (especially
thumbs) to provide input
c. Game controller: A specific type of controller specialized for certain gaming
Image, video input devices
a) _ Image scanner: A device that provides input by analysing images, printed text,
handwriting or an object
b) _ Webcam: A low resolution video camera used to provide visual input that can be easily
transferred over the Internet
Audio input devices
1. Microphone: An acoustic sensor that provides input by converting sound into
electrical Signals
Generations of Computers and Computer Languages
The first electronic computer was designed and built at the University of Pennsylvania based on
vacuum tube technology. Vacuum tubes were used to perform logic operations and to store data.
Generations of computers has been divided into five according to the development of
technologies used to fabricate the processors, memories and I/O units.
I Generation : 1945 55
II Generation : 1955 65
III Generation : 1965 75
IV Generation : 1975 89
V Generation : 1989 to present
FIRST GENERATION (ENIAC - Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator
EDSAC Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator
EDVAC Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer
UNIVAC Universal Automatic Computer
IBM 701)
Vacuum tubes were used basic arithmetic operations took few milliseconds

Consume more power with limited performance
High cost
Uses assembly language to prepare programs. These were translated into machine level
language for execution.
Mercury delay line memories and Electrostatic memories were used
Fixed point arithmetic was used
100 to 1000 fold increase in speed relative to the earlier mechanical and relay based
electromechanical technology
Punched cards and paper tape were invented to feed programs and data and to get results.
Magnetic tape / magnetic drum were used as secondary memory
Mainly used for scientific computations.
SECOND GENERATION (Manufacturers IBM 7030, Digital Data Corporations PDP 1/5/8
Honeywell 400)
Transistors were used in place of vacuum tubes. (invented at AT&T Bell lab in 1947)
Small in size
Lesser power consumption and better performance
Lower cost
Magnetic ferrite core memories were used as main memory which is a random-access
nonvolatile memory
Magnetic tapes and magnetic disks were used as secondary memory
Hardware for floating point arithmetic operations was developed.
Index registers were introduced which increased flexibility of programming.
High level languages such as FORTRAN, COBOL etc were used - Compilers were
developed to translate the high-level program into corresponding assembly language
program which was then translated into machine language.
Separate input-output processors were developed that could operate in parallel with CPU.
Punched cards continued during this period also.
1000 fold increase in speed.
Increasingly used in business, industry and commercial organizations for preparation of
payroll, inventory control, marketing, production planning, research, scientific &
engineering analysis and design etc.
THIRD GENERATION (System 360 Mainframe from IBM, PDP-8 Mini Computer from
Digital Equipment Corporation)
ICs were used
Small Scale Integration and Medium Scale Integration technology were implemented in
CPU, I/O processors etc.
Smaller & better performance
Comparatively lesser cost
Faster processors
In the beginning magnetic core memories were used. Later they were replaced by
semiconductor memories (RAM & ROM)
Introduced microprogramming

Microprogramming, parallel processing (pipelining, multiprocessor system etc),

multiprogramming, multi-user system (time shared system) etc were introduced.
Operating system software were introduced (efficient sharing of a computer system by
several user programs)
Cache and virtual memories were introduced (Cache memory makes the main memory
appear faster than it really is. Virtual memory makes it appear larger)
High level languages were standardized by ANSI eg. ANSI FORTRAN, ANSI COBOL etc
Database management, multi-user application, online systems like closed loop process
control, airline reservation, interactive query systems, automatic industrial control etc
emerged during this period.
FOURTH GENERATION (Intels 8088,80286,80386,80486 .., Motorolas 68000, 68030,
68040, Apple II, CRAY I/2/X/MP etc)
Microprocessors were introduced as CPU Complete processors and large section of main
memory could be implemented in a single chip
Tens of thousands of transistors can be placed in a single chip (VLSI design implemented)
CRT screen, laser & ink jet printers, scanners etc were developed.
Semiconductor memory chips were used as the main memory.
Secondary memory was composed of hard disks Floppy disks & magnetic tapes were
used for backup memory
Parallelism, pipelining cache memory and virtual memory were applied in a better way
LAN and WANS were developed (where desktop work stations interconnected)
Introduced C language and Unix OS
Introduced Graphical User Interface
Less power consumption
High performance, lower cost and very compact
Much increase in the speed of operation
FIFTH GENERATION (IBM notebooks, Pentium PCs-Pentium 1/2/3/4/Dual core/Quad core..
SUN work stations, Origin 2000, PARAM 10000, IBM SP/2)
Generation number beyond IV, have been used occasionally to describe some current
computer system that have a dominant organizational or application driven feature.
Computers based on artificial intelligence are available
Computers use extensive parallel processing, multiple pipelines, multiple processors etc
Massive parallel machines and extensively distributed system connected by
communication networks fall in this category.
Introduced ULSI (Ultra Large Scale Integration) technology Intels Pentium 4
microprocessor contains 55 million transistors millions of components on a single IC
Superscalar processors, Vector processors, SIMD processors, 32 bit micro controllers and
embedded processors, Digital Signal Processors (DSP) etc have been developed.
Memory chips up to 1 GB, hard disk drives up to 180 GB and optical disks up to 27 GB
are available (still the capacity is increasing)
Object oriented language like JAVA suitable for internet programming has been developed.
Portable note book computers introduced
Storage technology advanced large main memory and disk storage available

Introduced World Wide Web. (and other existing applications like e-mail, e Commerce,
Virtual libraries/Classrooms, multimedia applications etc.)
New operating systems developed Windows 95/98/XP/, LINUX, etc.
Got hot pluggable features which enable a failed component to be replaced with a new
one without the need to shutdown the system, allowing the uptime of the system to be
very high.
The recent development in the application of internet is the Grid technology which is still
in its upcoming stage.
Quantum mechanism and nanotechnology will radically change the phase of computers.
1. Super Computers
2. Main Frame Computers
3. Mini Computers
4. Micro Computers
1. SUPER COMPUTERS E.g.:- CRAY Research :- CRAY-1 & CRAY-2, Fujitsu (VP2000),
Hitachi (S820), NEC (SX20), PARAM 10000 by C-DAC, Anupam by BARC, PACE Series by
Most powerful Computer system - needs a large room
Minimum world length is 64 bits
CPU speed: 100 MIPS
Equivalent to 4000 computers
High cost: 4 5 millions
Able to handle large amount of data
High power consumption
High precision
Large and fast memory (Primary and Secondary)
Uses multiprocessing and parallel processing
Supports multiprogramming
In petroleum industry - to analyze volumes of seismic data which are gathered during oil
seeking explorations to identify areas where there is possibility of getting petroleum
products inside the earth
In Aerospace industry - to simulate airflow around an aircraft at different speeds and
altitude. This helps in producing an effective aerodynamic design for superior
In Automobile industry to do crash simulation of the design of an automobile before it is
released for manufacturing for better automobile design
In structural mechanics to solve complex structural engineering problems to ensure
safety, reliability and cost effectiveness. Eg. Designer of a large bridge has to ensure that
the bridge must be proper in various atmospheric conditions and pressures from wind,
velocity etc and under load conditions.
Meteorological centers use super computers for weather forecasting
In Biomedical research atomic nuclear and plasma analysis to study the structure of
viruses such as that causing AIDS

For weapons research and development, sending rockets to space etc

2. MAIN FRAME COMPUTERS E.g.:- IBM 3000 series, Burroughs B7900, Univac 1180,
Able to process large amount of data at very high speed
Supports multi-user facility
Number of processors varies from one to six.
Cost: 3500 to many million dollars
Kept in air conditioned room to keep them cool
Supports many I/O and auxiliary storage devices
Supports network of terminals

Figure 1.4 Mainframe computer

Used to process large amount of data at very high speed such as in the case of Banks/
Insurance Companies/ Hospitals/ Railwayswhich need online processing of large
number of transactions and requires massive data storage and processing capabilities
Used as controlling nodes in WANs (Wide Area Networks)
Used to mange large centralized databases
3. MINI COMPUTERS E.g.:- Digital Equipments PDP 11/45 and VAX 11)
Perform better than micros
Large in size and costlier than micros
Designed to support more than one user at a time
Posses large storage capacities and operates at higher speed
Support faster peripheral devices like high speed printers
Can also communicate with main frames
These computers are used when the volume of processing is large for e.g. Data processing
for a medium sized organization
Used to control and monitor production processes
To analyze results of experiments in laboratories

Used as servers in LANs (Local Area Networks)

4. MICRO COMPUTERS E.g.:- IBM PC, PS/2 and Apple Macintosh
A microcomputer uses a microprocessor as its central Processing Unit. Microcomputers
are tiny computers that can vary in size from a single chip to the size of a desktop model
They are designed to be used by only one person at a time
Small to medium data storage capacities 500MB 2GB
The common examples of microcomputers are chips used in washing machines, TVs, Cars
and Note book/Personal computers.
Used in the field of desktop publishing, accounting, statistical analysis, graphic designing,
investment analysis, project management, teaching, entertainment etc
a) Personal computers:- The name PC was given by the IBM for its microcomputers. PCs
are used for word processing, spreadsheet calculations, database management etc.
b) Note book or Lap Top:- Very small in terms of size can be folded and carried around
Monitor is made up of LCD and the keyboard and system units are contained in a single
box. Got all the facilities of a personal computer (HDD, CDD, Sound card, N/W card,
Modem etc) and a special connection to connect to the desktop PC which can be used to
transfer data.
c) Palm Top:- Smaller model of the microcomputer- size is similar to that of a calculator
pocket size- It has a processor and memory and a special connection to connect to the
desktop PC which can be used to transfer data.
d) Wrist PC:- Smallest type of microcomputer can be worn on our wrist like a watch- It
has a processor and memory and a wireless modem
The different models of microcomputers are given below:PERSONAL COMPUTER TYPES
Actual personal computers can be generally classified by size and chassis / case. The chassis or
case is the metal frame that serves as the structural support for electronic components. Every
computer system requires at least one chassis to house the circuit boards and wiring. The chassis
also contains slots for expansion boards. If you want to insert more boards than there are slots,
you will need an expansion chassis, which provides additional slots. There are two basic flavors
of chassis designsdesktop models and tower models but there are many variations on these two
basic types. Then come the portable computers that are computers small enough to carry.
Portable computers include notebook and subnotebook computers, hand-held computers,
palmtops, and PDAs.
The term refers to a computer in which the power supply, motherboard, and mass storage devices
are stacked on top of each other in a cabinet. This is in contrast to desktop models, in which these
components are housed in a more compact box. The main advantage of tower models is that
there are fewer space constraints, which makes installation of additional storage devices easier.
A computer designed to fit comfortably on top of a desk, typically with the monitor sitting on top
of the computer. Desktop model computers are broad and low, whereas tower model computers
are narrow and tall. Because of their shape, desktop model computers are generally limited to

three internal mass storage devices. Desktop models designed to be very small are sometimes
referred to as slimline models.
An extremely lightweight personal computer. Notebook computers typically weigh less than 6
pounds and are small enough to fit easily in a briefcase. Aside from size, the principal difference
between a notebook computer and a personal computer is the display screen. Notebook
computers use a variety of techniques, known as flat-panel technologies, to produce a
lightweight and non-bulky display screen. The quality of notebook display screens varies
considerably. In terms of computing power, modern notebook computers are nearly equivalent to
personal computers. They have the same CPUs, memory capacity, and disk drives. However, all
this power in a small package is expensive. Notebook computers cost about twice as much as
equivalent regular-sized computers. Notebook computers come with battery packs that enable
you to run them without plugging them in. However, the batteries need to be recharged every few
A small, portable computer -- small enough that it can sit on your lap. Nowadays, laptop
computers are more frequently called notebook computers.
A portable computer that is slightly lighter and smaller than a full-sized notebook computer.
Typically, subnotebook computers have a smaller keyboard and screen, but are otherwise
equivalent to notebook computers.
A portable computer that is small enough to be held in ones hand. Although extremely
convenient to carry, handheld computers have not replaced notebook computers because of their
small keyboards and screens. The most popular hand-held computers are those that are
specifically designed to provide PIM (personal information manager) functions, such as a
calendar and address book. Some manufacturers are trying to solve the small keyboard problem
by replacing the keyboard with an electronic pen. However, these pen based devices rely on
handwriting recognition technologies, which are still in their infancy. Hand-held computers are
also called PDAs, palmtops and pocket computers.
A small computer that literally fits in your palm. Compared to full-size computers, palmtops are
severely limited, but they are practical for certain functions such as phone books and calendars.
Palmtops that use a pen rather than a keyboard for input are often called hand-held computers or
PDAs. Because of their small size, most palmtop computers do not include disk drives. However,
many contain PCMCIA slots in which you can insert disk drives, modems, memory, and other
devices. Palmtops are also called PDAs, hand-held computers and pocket computers.
Short for personal digital assistant, a handheld device that combines computing, telephone/fax,
and networking features. A typical PDA can function as a cellular phone, fax sender, and
personal organizer. Unlike portable computers, most PDAs are pen-based, using a stylus rather

than a keyboard for input. This means that they also incorporate handwriting recognition
features. Some PDAs can also react to voice input by using voice recognition technologies. The
field of PDA was pioneered by Apple Computer, which introduced the Newton MessagePad in
1993. Shortly thereafter, several other manufacturers offered similar products. To date, PDAs
have had only modest success in the marketplace, due to their high price tags and limited
applications. However, many experts believe that PDAs will eventually become common
gadgets. PDAs are also called palmtops, hand-held computers and pocket computers.

Figure 1.5. Comparison of Types of computers

The computer performs its functions based on the instructions given by the user. The set of such
instructions written for a particular task is known as a computer program. Program is the set of
instructions that tells the computer how to process the data, into the form desired by the user. The
language in which a computer program is written is known as programming language. The
programming languages are classified as Low-level language and High-level language. See

gure 1.6 programming languages
Low-level language is further classified as Machine language and Assembly language.
Machine language is expressed in terms of binary numbers i.e. 0 and 1 as the processor
understands binary numbers only. However, it is difficult to read and write the program in terms
of 0s and 1s. The machine language code is further simplified by converting it to the code called
op code. The op code depends upon the type of processor. The program written in the op code is
known as Assembly language code. During the run time, it is necessary to convert the op code
into machine language so that the processor will understand and process the code. The internal
program that translates op code to machine code is known as Assembler. Some examples of
Assembler are Microsoft Assembler (MASM), Z-80, 8085, 8086 etc. The Assembler for each
processor is different. Usage of the Assembly language requires knowledge of the Assembly
language and computer hardware. It is more convenient to write a program in a High level
language, which comprises of instructions in simple English. Examples of High level language
are BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL etc. A compiler is the internal program that translates High
level language to Machine language.
SOFTWARE: 'Software' is another name for program. In most cases, the terms software and
program are interchangeable. There are two types of software
1. System software : System Software enables an application software to interact with the
computer hardware. System software is the background software that helps the
computer to manage its internal resources. The most important system software is the
operating system. The system software performs important tasks such as running the
program, storing data, processing data etc. Windows XP is an example of system
2. Application/ utility software.:Application software is the end user software. The
programs written under application software are designed for general purpose and special
purpose applications. An example of application software is Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Comparison of Guided Transmission Medium