Background Material

Essay by swayerCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2004

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Module 1

Section 1

1.2 Software and Hardware

Hardware: the physical components of your computer: the 'box' and its contents (microprocessor, hard disk, graphics card, etc.), together with the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Hardware includes components called:

Peripherals: Separate hardware items that are added onto the basic computer unit, such as the monitor, modem, printer, keyboard.

Software: programs that make a computer do things. There are three basic categories of software: Operating Systems (e.g. Windows), languages (e.g. Java and C) and applications (e.g. word processors and spreadsheets)

Software can be divided into three basic categories:

Operating systems: the operating system (e.g. DOS, Windows, and UNIX) manages the computer's resources, provides a means of interfacing with the user and runs application packages.

Languages: These allow developers to write new software programs, examples include Basic, C, Assembler, Pascal, C++, Visual Basic and Java.

Applications: applications programs (e.g. word processors, spreadsheets) allow you to perform activities using your computer.


1.3 Binary, Bits and Bytes

Transistors: tiny switches that only can be in one of two states; that is, on or off.

In mathematics the term binary is used to refer to a number system which has only two digits, that is 1 and 0.Any number from the denary system can be represented in binary; 0 in denary is 0 in binary. Similarly 1 in denary is 1 in binary. When you get to 2 in denary you have a problem. How do you represent two? You simply create a new column and start afresh, using 1 and 0, so 2 in denary becomes 10 in binary. When you move on to 3 (in denary) you proceed as before; 3 becomes 11 in binary. The table below will explain a bit in another way.

The difference between data and instructions:

Data: is the current...