How A Computer Works

Category: Education

Presentation Description

A brief overview of how a computer works.


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Presentation Transcript

How a Computer Works : 

How a Computer Works

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Computers are made of many electronic components or parts. These components each have a special job and they all work together to make your computer operate. Some components are hidden inside the computer where you can't see them. Others can be seen partly from the outside

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Power It Up! Every computer needs a power supply to take electricity from your house and convert it into a current that works for your computer. The electrical cord that comes out of your computer comes out of the power supply. When it is plugged into the wall, electricity travels from the electrical wires in your house into the computer's power supply. When your computer is turned on, the power supply allows the converted electricity to travel to other components inside the computer.

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Circuits The motherboard gets its name because it is like a mother to all of the other circuit boards. Found at the bottom of a desktop case or the side of a tower case, the motherboard is the largest circuit board and has many smaller boards plugged into it. It holds all of the most important parts of the computer.

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On the motherboard, you will find several expansion cards. Each of these cards has a special purpose. The sound card contains special circuits for operating the computer's sound. The video card handles graphics that are displayed on the monitor. There are also expansion cards for other computer components including the drives and ports.

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The modem is an expansion card that allows computers to talk to each other. A modem plugs the computer in to a phone or cable line so that information can be transferred between computers. Current modems can run up to 12 megabits per second.

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Central Processing Unit The brain of a computer is the CPU or Central Processing Unit. Like a brain, it controls information and tells other parts what to do. The type of CPU in a computer also determines how fast that computer can operate. A CPU generates lots of heat, so there is usually a small fan nearby to cool it down.

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BIOS A very important computer component is the BIOS chip. BIOS stands for Basic Input Output System. In very simple terms, the BIOS chip wakes up the computer when you turn it on and reminds it what parts it has and what they do.

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RAM AND ROM RAM stands for Random Access Memory. RAM chips will remember what you tell them and can even change to remember new information. But, when the computer is turned off, RAM forgets everything you told it. This is why it is so important to save your work on a computer - if the computer gets turned off, RAM will lose all of your work! ROM stands for Read Only Memory. ROM is good at remembering, but cannot change it's mind. It holds information that is built into it. ROM is like reading a library book - lots of information is there, but you can't change it (because you never write in a library book). RAM, on the other hand, is more like a journal - you can write information into the journal. But if you change your mind, you can erase and write in new information.

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Ports Ports are the places on the outside of the computer case where you plug in hardware. On the inside of the case, they are connected to expansion cards. The keyboard, mouse, monitor, and printer all plug into ports. There are also extra ports to plug in extra hardware like joysticks, gamepads, scanners, digital cameras and the like. The ports are controlled by their expansion cards which are plugged into the motherboard and are connected to other components by cables - long, flat bands that contain electrical wiring. Disk Drives Disk drives read information off of storage disks. The three most common disk drives are the hard drive, floppy disk drive and CD-ROM. In lesson 1, you learned a bit about the latter two, which are usually installed inside the front of your computer case so that you can get to them from the outside to load the software. The hard drive, however is hidden inside the computer because the disks are not meant to be removed. Information that you save on your computer is stored on these hard disks.

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Label the parts of the Computer

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Bits and Bytes Did you know that all of the information that travels through your computer is based on two commands? It's true. The only data that a computer can understand is on and off. But, the millions of combinations of those two commands given in series are what make a computer work.

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Binary Code Remember the power supply that is inside your computer and how it sends electricity to all of the components? That electricity is what creates an on signal. The memory chips inside your computer are divided into thousands of tiny compartments called bits. Each bit has an electronic switch or gate. On means the gate is open and letting electricity go through. The computer reads on or open switches as a number 1. Closed gates are off because the electricity is blocked and cannot get through. The computer reads off bits as 0. It is by grouping these bits together to form a series of 1/0 commands, that data is formed. Eight bits are grouped together to form a byte. In this group of eight, there are 256 possible combinations of 1/0. The grouping of 1/0 within a byte is called Binary Code

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Here's an example of the Binary Code in action: When you type the letter A on your keyboard, electrical signals are sent from the keyboard to the CPU. The CPU turns the signals into binary code. Then, the computer reads the code and sends it on to the monitor to display the letter A.

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KB, MB & GB You may have seen these abbreviations many times before. Do you know what they mean? KB = kilobyte = about 1,000 (one thousand) bytes, (1024 or 2^10) MB = megabyte = about 1,000,000 (one million) bytes, (1,048,576 or 2^20) GB= gigabyte = about 1,000,000,000 (one billion) bytes (1,073,741,824 or 2^30) As you can see, these abbreviations stand for a specific number of bytes. And each byte holds 8 bits capable of forming 256 combinations of 1/0. Wow! The number that comes before one of these abbreviations represents the computer's memory capacity. For example, if a computer has 64MB of RAM that means that the computer can handle 64,000,000 (64 million) bytes of random access memory (that's 64,000,000 microscopic 8-bit panels). Hard disk space is also measured in bytes. So, a 15GB hard drive has 15,000,000,000 (15 billion) bytes for storing memory.

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Look at your keyboard. Each character key is represented by a number that is held in a single byte. Remember how the letter A is sent to the CPU to be translated into binary code? The numerical value of the uppercase letter A is 65. That number 65 is represented in one byte - a combination of 1 and 0 or on and off switches. The computer cannot understand letters, so it translates them into numbers that are represented by patterns of on and off. To get an idea of how much on/off data a computer can store, just imagine pressing one key one billion times! How long would it take? If you pressed the key 5 times per second, it would take you over 6 years of continuously typing to reach 1 billion keystrokes equal to 1GB of memory! And many computers today can store over 20GB of memory on their hard disks! Incredible! So, the next time your computer is taking a long time to load a web page, think of how fast it really is going!

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