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The computer is a wonderful device that was created to help us with many difficult tasks to do. Perform thousands of calculations and tasks that we indicate in a few seconds.

What is a computer?

A computer is a device that allows you to do all kinds of activities, from saving your records, writing letters, playing games, sending emails to others, using the Internet, editing photos, and much more. It is a versatile device that offers countless possibilities even in its simplest version.

In fact, a computer is the name of the ‘cabinet’ that contains components like the hard drive and the processor. In everyday speech, the computer means the entire cabinet, a screen, a keyboard, a mouse, and peripherals like a printer.

A computer system consists of all kinds of technical parts that are assembled in a cabinet. As a user, you generally only deal with the outside of the system, where things like CD and DVD player and USB ports are located.

There is also a computer available in the form of a laptop. There is no separate cabinet for this. The computer is one with the keyboard and the screen. The laptop is foldable and practical to use on the go.

The components that are always included are the hard disk, the processor, the power supply, a motherboard, the memory, the video card and the sound card, an internal modem and all kinds of connections for, for example, memories USB and other storage devices. You don’t need to know anything about how these parts work to operate a computer.

In the past, only programmers could work with computers. But since the advent of operating systems like Windows, computing has become accessible to everyone. The operating system allows you to start programs on the computer and perform all kinds of actions.

You can use programs on the computer. These are apps with a specific purpose. The Microsoft Office package includes Word for word processing and Excel for calculations and formulas.

There are programs that you must buy, such as Office and, for example, the well-known Photoshop. Also, there are free programs in all shapes and sizes. For example, a free competitor to Office is Open Office.

You can install as many programs on your computer as you want, of course, with the limitation that the memory of a computer is not endless. Many programs are now available on the Internet. This is called “downloading,” a process by which you copy the program’s installation files from the Internet to your own computer. Then let the program install all the necessary files and you can use the corresponding program.

Of course, you can also remove programs from the computer. There are special tools for that.

The most popular computer applications are email, surfing the web, editing photos, playing a game, and editing videos.

How does a computer work?


A computer is actually a very large calculator. Everything a computer does, whether it’s sending an email, showing a movie, or searching for something on the Internet, is the result of a large sum. Each activity and task is divided into many small sums, and by solving all those sums in one row, the computer does what it has to do.

If you know that, it’s easier to understand that a computer basically uses only two characters: a zero and one, the so-called binary code. Or rather, ‘on’ or ‘off’, because those 0 or 1 mean that a current is not passed or not.

Computer heart

We call each zero or one a little. These bits form strings so that we can display more different characters. By default, these are series of eight bites, which we call byte. Together they can display 256 numbers and characters, from 00000000 to 11111111. A computer constantly calculates with many bytes. A kilobyte is a thousand bytes (although the term is also used, confusingly, for 1024 bytes), it can display about half a page of text. One megabyte (one million bytes) is enough for an MP3 song. One gigabyte (one billion bytes) is a complete CD full of music and one terabyte (one billion bytes) fits the information on 212 DVDs.

A computer uses binary code. All digital calculations go with 1’s and 0’s …
Christiaan Colen via CC BY-SA 2.0
Different parts of a computer (hardware) have a different function to make all those sums happen and work smoothly. And if you have a laptop, desktop, or tablet – the base is the same.

On a computer you will find a motherboard, a large square plate with gray contacts, that connects all the other parts: a processor, called the heart of the computer, that processes all the data it enters, the hard drive on which the results are obtained of the sums. And so all your information is stored, the working memory, where the processor can temporarily store data, and the Bios chip. And then there is a fan to mainly cool the processor, a power supply for the power supply, and various support systems

Faster computers

The working memory should not be confused with the memory of the hard disk. Working memory (also called internal memory or ram memory) is, for example, 8 gigabytes, 16 gigabytes, or 32 gigabytes. You can compare working memory to a human’s short-term memory. It is used to store things briefly. After all, it would take longer if all the information always had to come from long-term memory (the PC’s hard drive). The more working memory, the more commands you can run at the same time.

One of the reasons that new computers are often faster is determined by the number of bits the computer can process at the same time. A 32-bit computer can process 32 bits in one operation, while a 16-bit computer must first divide the 32-bit numbers, slowing it down.

When we work with big heavy programs like video editing or games, it is important that the PC has a lot of RAM. If you start a large program after turning on the computer, it often takes time. If you then close the program and restart it, loading is much faster because the information now comes from the working memory.

 When starting the computer, the Bios (Basic Input / Output System) is important. It is a small program (technically a separate circuit on the motherboard) that contains various settings and instructions that operate the system. If there is an incorrect setting here, the computer probably won’t work at all. During this startup phase, Bios is the only software available. Load the operating system, such as Windows or Linux, on the computer.

The operating system, along with a screen, keyboard, mouse, and microphone, is user access to the capabilities of the computer. It forms the so-called interface, which means that it can interact with the computer. So you can say the computer was ‘help me calculate or write something’, ‘discover what is a terabyte again?’, ‘Play this movie or game for me’ or ‘just send this email.’