Computer, an indispensable tool, has brought about dramatic changes in our lives, making it incumbent on everyone to learn it. Faruk Ahmed introduces us to its basic tips…
Computer today has become a ubiquitous tool used at homes, schools, offices, hospitals and even prisons. You can no longer do anything today without using computer; hence, the need for everyone to be at least computer literate.
In this article, I will present the nitty-gritty of computer, its uses, components, categories and its future.
What is computer?
According to Google, the world’s largest search engine, Computer is “an electronic device which is capable of receiving information (data) in a particular form and of performing a sequence of operations in accordance with a predetermined but variable set of procedural instructions (program) to produce a result in the form of information or signals.”
The key terms in the above definition are electronic device, capacity to receive information, execution of predetermined instructions and production of results.
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If we try to explain the above definition in a layman language, we will find out that even though the earliest forms of computers were mechanical in nature, the present ones are mostly, if not exclusively, electronic. Furthermore, all computers receive some forms of inputs in different formats using some kinds of tools, which they process using stored instructions which are called programs. The end products of these processing can be stored temporarily or permanently in the computer or brought outside for the user to see or feel with some devices.
Parts of a computer
The computer is subdivided into two components: software and hardware. While software is further sub-divided into system and application software, hardware has its sub-parts as input, processing, storage and output devices. Due to space constraints, we will not be able to dig deep into these individual components of computer. We will only dwell on the periphery.
>> Software: These are predetermined instructions that command the computer on what to do. The system software are those software used by the computer itself to carry out in-house operations. Examples of system software include operating system, utility software, disk management system and system clock.
On the other hand, application software are those used by computer users to perform certain tasks. Examples of application software are Microsoft Word, CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop, and Mozilla Firefox.
Even though software cannot be touched, they are the souls of the computer. Without them, a computer is an empty case.
>> Hardware: Hardware are the physical components that make up a computer. They are used to enter information into the computer (input devices), process the information entered (processing devices), store the information (storage devices), and display the results in soft and/or hard copies (output devices).
Examples of input devices are mouse, keyboard, scanner, digital camera, microphone, joystick and gamepads. Examples of processing devices include central processing unit (CPU), graphics processing unit (GPU), motherboard, network card and sound card. On the other hand, while Random Access Memory (RAM), hard disk, memory cards, flash, CD/DVD, and floppy disks are examples of storage devices, monitor, printer, plotter, speaker, projector and headphones are examples of output devices.
Categories of computer
When we talk about computer categories, we are talking about its different sizes. Moreover, when you hear talks of computer sizes, what are being inferred are not the physical heights or widths of the computers; no! It is their powers and functionalities.
The categories of computer range from supercomputers, mainframe computers, minicomputers, microcomputers to mobile computers.
Mobile computers: These are those kinds of computers that can be moved from place to place such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, cellphones and even calculators.
Microcomputers: These are computers that are bigger than mobile computers. A microcomputer is a computer that can perform all of its input, process, output and storage activities by itself.
Minicomputer: A minicomputer is often used in situations where a microcomputer is not powerful enough. But a minicomputer is very expensive.
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Mainframe: A mainframe computer is a large, expensive, but powerful computer that can handle hundreds or thousands of connected users at the same time.
Supercomputer: A supercomputer is the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive computer used for applications that require complex and sophisticated mathematical calculations.
Future of computer
Even though the uses of computers today cannot be underestimated, the visions computer creators have for this irresistible tool is mind-boggling.
Right now, major achievements have been realized in the field of artificial intelligence with the creations of robots to automate certain operations like cars assemblage. In the future, computers will be able to think just like man or even more.
Recently, a computer program, AlphaGo, was able to defeat an expert in the game of Go in the first two rounds of a five round tournament. The remaining three rounds have not been played yet. Whether the computer program will still have the upper hand is yet to be known.
In the future, virtual reality, augmented reality and perceptual computing will also become a mainstay in the society. With virtual reality, for instance, you can see what is in a house without necessarily having to enter it.
Computer has entered our lives and changed it beyond recognition. Today, if you stay 10 hours without your phone, you don’t feel normal anymore. People make thousands or millions of friends and followers on social media like Facebook or Twitter, which they might never see in their lifetime. Files which you would have had to take flights oversees to deliver now are being transferred within instances using websites like WeTransfer or DropBox.
The future of computer is indeed vast. We are just experiencing its introduction.
To be continued…