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Introduction to Computers

© ToulouConsult 2004

OVERVIEW OF COMPUTING AND COMPUTERS Computing refers to information/data processing. With the volume of information in our world today, computers have in not a little way affected our lives. In education, telecommunications, journalism, banking, etc., the computer has made life much easier. It is the broad spectrum of computing (i.e. study, development and professional practice) that is referred to as Information Technology (IT) To get started with this course, the first question to be asked is this: What is a Computer? A Computer is an electronic device that accepts data as input, processes it, and gives the required information as output.




Fig. 1 The computer model illustrating the Input – Process – Output cycle

History: Computers were first made in the 20th century even though the mathematical foundation was laid in the 19th century by people like Charles Babbage and Blaise Pascal with their early mechanical computing machines. In discussing the history of the modern computer, we classify them into generations. I. First generation: (1945 – 1955) characterized by the vacuum tube (a.k.a. thermionic valve) as its major functional electronic component. II. Second generation: (1955 – early 60s) characterized by the transistor which replaced the vacuum tubes as they were faster, smaller and emitted less heat. III. Third generation: (1960s – 70s) was a major breakthrough in computing research with the advent of the IC (Integrated Circuit) where hundreds of transistors could be integrated onto a tiny silicon chip. IV. Fourth generation: (1970s till date) was a further development on the IC with a Very Large Scale Integration of thousands of transistors on a single chip. (The Personal Computer is a 4th gen.) -1

Introduction to Computers V.

© ToulouConsult 2004

Fifth generation: This is a generation of computers that have a certain level of...

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