What is a Computer?
Computers are electronic machines which have been designed to work with the help of information. The word ‘Computer’ has been derived from the Latin word “Computare” which means “programmable machine” or “to calculate”. The computer will not be able to work until and unless it has been programmed.
In other words, the Computer is defined as a programmable electronic device that intakes raw data as input and processes the information with the help of programs and gives the final result as output. It provides the output after the data has been processed through mathematical and logical information, which can be saved for use in the future as well. Both numerical and non-numerical inputs can be processed by the computer. Charles Babbage is called the ‘Father of Computer”. The first working mechanical computer was designed by Charles Babbage which was known as the Analytical Engine. This computer used read-only memory as punch cards.
A computer is an integrated system of software and hardware components that function together to execute the application and give us a large and different type of solution. The computer works the assistance of the programs, and the decimal numbers are represented by a string of binary digits. The computer is comprised of a memory whose function is to store the programs and the data and the results of the processed data. Machinery components of the computer, such as hard disks, wires, circuits, and transistors, are called hardware, whereas the data and the programs are known as the software components of the computer.
Computers are also used as control systems as well for various consumers and industrial devices. It includes simple and particular devices like remote control, microwave ovens; simple devices that are used in the factory such as computer-aided design and industrial robots; devices that are used in daily life such as laptops, personal computers, smartphones, etc. The computer also enables one to run the internet on them, which aids in connecting hundreds of computers and their million users as well.
There are certain parts without which the computers cannot function properly, which are as follows:
Central Processing Unit (CPU): It is referred to as the traffic cop of the entire machine which directs the machine what to do and when to do. The Central Processing Unit is comprised of the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) and the Control Unit (CU). The CU gets the instructions via the computer memory, decrypts the instructions, and then executes it. The ALU performs the mathematical calculations and finally takes the appropriate decision. The CPU of the computer is present in the form of silicon chips which is embedded with millions of transistors. Some computers have more than one CPU, and certain chips contain more than one CPU.
Random Access Memory: It is regarded as the primary storage of the computer. The CPU is in direct connection with the RAM through the means of the bus. It facilitates the electrical connection of the components of the computer with one another. RAM operates at a very high speed of the nanosecond range or even a billionth of a second. RAM is referred to as the volatile memory as it loses all of the information stored in it once it has been removed from the power source. Just like the CPU, RAM also exists in the form of silicon chips with a million of transistors present on it.
Read-Only Memory: The ROM stores all the pre-arranged information for a computer that’s mostly used during the startup process. ROM chips are very similar to the RAM chips except for the fact that the computer can only read information off from it and does not store any information on it. There are certain chips available that let the user erase the information off from it and then reuse it. These chips are known as the Basic Input-Output system or the EPROM chips. A unique and special process is used for re-writing information in these chips. These chips are non-volatile, which means that the information is not lost from it even if they have been detached from the power source.
Secondary Storage: As it is known that the RAM is volatile and computers are not able to write and store information on the ROM, the computers need to have some form of secondary storage. This secondary storage is known as Disk Storage. These disks are round plate-shaped disks with a coating of an oxide layer on them. They also hold a magnetic charge on them. There are some places on this disk where the charges exist in an on and off manner, which facilitates in supporting the 1s and 0s language of the computer. Apart from this, there are other forms of secondary storages available, too, like the solid-state disk. A solid-state disk is a collection of non-volatile memory disks. Flash Drives are also a type of solid-state disk.
Motherboard: The motherboard is also known as the circuit board, which consists of memory, processor, and ROM chips. It consists of several slots for placing additional cards along with the bus connections as well, which helps in tying all of the components together so that every element can communicate with each other. It is also comprised of the integrated and connected ports for modems, mice, keyboards, and modems. Many motherboards of modern times are comprised of the integrated network interfaces and modems.
Software: Software is an essential part of the entire computer system. Without it, a computer system is simply sand, oxide, and gold in a box. For a startup, the software is uploaded on the ROM chips from which the computer receives and reads the instructions and directs it on what is to be done next. An important software is known as the operating system software, which is essential for running the computer system we loaded in the hard disk drive of the system and is loaded at the last part of the entire setup. Certain software application like spreadsheets and the word processors allows the user to carry out productive operations.
Would you like to read more about this topic? This book might interest you: History of Computers.
What is a Computer?