05 Anatomy of a Computer Plain Text

Anatomy of a Computer
Over the past 60 years, computers have evolved from mammoth machines
occupying an entire room to the modern devices that can fit on our lap or in
the palm of our hand. In this chapter, you will look at what makes these
marvels of technology work. As advanced as today's computers are, they are
still only capable of completing tasks assigned to them by users. They work
by carrying out four functions: input, storage, processing, and output. In
order for a computer to perform these functions, it must have hardware and
Functions of Computers
The computer collects data or instructions from you. You can provide the
computer with input by
· keying using a keyboard
·pointing and clicking a mouse or touchpad
· pointing a stylus
· touching a screen
· speaking into a microphone
You may think that data and information are the same things, but there is an
important difference. Data is raw, unprocessed numbers, characters, or
symbols. Information is data that has been processed so that it can be
understood and used in decision making.
The computer saves, or stores, data or instructions in its memory for use
during processing.
The computer interprets and processes the data you input. It adds,
multiplies, divides, finds, or manipulates data (numbers, text, or symbols)
to complete a task you have given it.
By the end of the 1990s, many desktop or home computers had more processing
power than the computer used to put the first person on the moon in 1969. The
Intel Core 2 Duo processor, released in July 2006, contains 291 million
transistors. It exceeds speeds of 2 gigahertz (GHz), is 40 percent more
energy efficient, and demonstrates 40 percent better performance when
compared to one of its predecessors, the Pentium D.
The computer displays or produces information from the data that it
processed. The output might be something you see on the screen (such as an
answer to a mathematical problem), something you hear (such as a ding when
you have made an error), or something you command the printer to print.
This section is simple to summarize. There are four functions of a computer,
and you must be able to explain each of them. Have you recorded the main idea
of each function? Share your summary with your team. Are your ideas the same?
If not, it does not necessarily mean that you are wrong; it may just mean
that you see things differently. To find out more about how these four
functions work, go to www.nelson.com/btt.
How do you want to present the four functions of a computer? You may want to
use a
· chart
· web or other graphic organizer
· flow chart
Think ahead. There is a lot of information to digest in the next section on
computer hardware. Since you are working with others, you might want to
divide the workload. That is what teamwork is all about. Preview the section
and determine who will cover which area before you get started. Each team
member will be responsible for reading, understanding, and summarizing the
main points in one of the following subsections:
What Is Hardware?
o Inside the Computer
o How CPUs Work'
Computer Storage
o Compressing Your Files
Peripheral Devices
Each team member must become an expert on his or her subsection. This is
called jigsaw learning. Just as puzzle pieces are put together to form a
complete picture, you and your team members will each take responsibility for
a piece of the computer hardware puzzle. Then, you will meet as a team to
share what you have learned and to exchange summary notes. This way, all team
members will have notes on all parts of the Computer Hardware section.
Depending on the subsection you choose, you may want to use a chart, a
labelled diagram, or a graphic organizer to keep track of and show the main
points and key vocabulary.
When you come together as a team, it is important that you are able to
explain and demonstrate each point. For example, if you take responsibility
for learning what is inside the computer, it is important that you show and
tell about each part when it is your turn to share. Your team members can do
the same for their subsections. When you have finished, each member of your
team should have the complete picture of this section on computer hardware.
[Figure 2.4 Working in teams is an effective way to Learn Large amounts of
information. Picture has been omitted]