Computers are electronic machines, which accept data in a certain form, process the data and give the results of the processing in a specified format as information.
Computers can be divided into tree main types, depending on their size and power.
Mainframe computers are the largest and most powerful. They can handle large amounts of information very quickly and can be used by many people at the same time. They usually fill a whole room and are sometimes referred to as mainframes or computer installations. They are found in large institutions and government department.
Minicomputers, commonly known as minis, are smaller and less powerful than mainframes. They are about the size of an office desk or smaller and are usually found in banks and offices. They are becoming less popular as microcomputers improve.
Microcomputers, commonly called as micros, are the smallest and least powerful. They can handle smaller amounts of information at a time and are ideal for use as home computers, but are also used in education and business. More powerful micros are gradually being produced; therefore they are becoming the most commonly used types of computers.
A computer can do very little until it is given some information. This is known as the input and usually consists of a program and some data.
A program is a set of instructions, written in a special computer language, telling the computer what operations and processes have to be carried out and in what order they should be done. Data, however, is the particular information that has to be processed by the computer, e.g. numbers, names, measurement.
Information in the form of data and programs is known as software, and mechanical parts that make a computer system are called hardware. A standard computer system consists of three main sections: the Central Processing Unit (CPU), the main memory and the peripherals.
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Text 2 Computer System(continued)
Read the text and give the summary of it.
Perhaps the most influential component is the Central Processing Unit. Its function is to execute programming and coordinate the activities of all the other units. It is the ‘brain’ of the computer. The unit consists of three main parts:
a) the Control Unit, which examines the instructions in the user’s program, interprets each instruction and causes the circuits and the rest of the components – disk drives, monitors, etc. -- to be activated to execute the functions specified;
b) The Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU), which performs mathematical calculations (+, -, etc.);
c) The registers, which are high-speed units of memory used to store and control information. One of these registers is the program Counter (PC) which keeps track of the next instruction to be performed in the main memory. Another is the Instruction Register (IR) which holds the instruction that is currently being executed.
The main memory holds the instructions and data which are currently being processed by the CPU. It has two types: RAM and ROM, both contained in electronic chips connected to the main board of the computer. RAM stands for ‘Random-Access Memory’ and is the working area of the computer, that is, the basic location where the microprocessor stores the required information. All the information stored in the RAM is temporary. ROM is the acronym for ‘Read-Only Memory’, which implies that the processor can read and use the information stored in the ROM chip, but cannot put information into it. ROM chips have ‘constant’ information, including instructions and routines for the basic operations of the CPU.
The peripherals are the physical units attached to the computer. They include storage devices and input/output devices.
Storage devices (floppy or hard disks) provide a permanent storage of both data and programs. Disk drives are used to handle one or more floppy disks. Input devices enable data to go into the computer’s memory. The most common input devices are the mouse and the keyboard. Output devices enable us to extract the finished product from the system. For example, the computer shows the output on the monitor or prints the results onto paper by means of a printer.