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An introduction to computer system

A computer is an electronic device that accepts data and instructions, processes them according to instructions and produces output as information. The data and information can be stored for the current and future uses. Now day’s computers are used in different fields like office, industries, business, scientific research, multimedia technology, trainings and many other sectors. It is not only used for retrieving information but it can be used for doing various tasks like creating a spreadsheet or document, keeping account of daily business, preparing slides, composing music, reserving tickets in Air Lines, deposits or withdrawals of money from banks, medical diagnosis, online transactions, e-commerce, e-governance etc.

The main characteristics of a computer system are

  • The working Speed of computer is very high.
  • It produces accurate information.
  • It is an automated machine.
  • It is a diligent machine which never feels tired.
  • It is a versatile machine.
  • It has high storage capacity.
  • The different units of storage are shown below.

A computer system is the combination of different hardware and software that works together to process data and instructions given by the user in order to give information.

Computer Hardware Components
The physical components of the computer  system are known as computer hardware. They are the tangible parts of a computer that can be touched or seen. There are many physical components in a computer. Inside the system unit, the tangible parts like resistors, diodes, transistors, capacitors, integrated circuits (IC) like ROM, chip, RAM, microprocessor etc. are found on a motherboard.  The daughter board and storage devices like hard disk, floppy disk, Compact disk drive etc. are also found in the system. The peripheral devices like keyboard, mouse, monitor, speaker etc. are also the computer hardware. These all parts work only when they are connected in a certain order and get data and instructions.

Different physical components of the computer system are given below:

  • Input Unit
  • CPU
  • Memory Unit
  • Output Unit

Input Unit
Input Unit is responsible for providing data and instructions to the CPU. It accepts input, converts it into computer’s format and provides it to system memory.
Keyboard is the most common input device. Some other input devices include mouse, joystick, light pen, touch screen, scanner, webcam, and microphone, touch pad and so forth.

Memory Unit
Memory unit is responsible for storing data and instructions either for a short or longer period of time. Memory is of two types:
Primary Memory/Main memory
Secondary Memory/Auxiliary memory

Primary Memory
Primary memory is used for storing data and instructions during processing. It is the only memory which is directly accessible to CPU. It is expensive, faster and used in small capacity.

  • RAM
  • ROM
  • Cache memory

Secondary Memory
It is the additional memory used for storing huge amount of data for a longer period of time. It is also used for transferring data from one computer to another. It is usually cheaper, slower and used in larger capacity. It is not directly accessible to CPU.
Examples: CD, DVD, Hard disk, pen drive, etc.

CPU (Central Processing Unit)
CPU is responsible for processing the inputs for generating the outputs. It controls all the component of the computer. CPU contains three sub-components. They are:

  • ALU
  • CU
  • Set of Registers

ALU (Arithmetic and Logic Unit)
It performs arithmetic and logical operations. It performs all its task according to the control signal from CU.

CU (Control Unit)
CU is responsible for controlling all the components of the computer including input devices, output devices, memory devices and other components of CPU. It uses control signal for controlling.

Set of registers
Register is a temporary memory present in CPU. It is used for storing data instructions while it is being processed by CPU. CPU contains registers like MAR, MBR, TR,etc.

Output Unit
Output unit is responsible for providing the result after processing. It converts the output from computer’s format into user understandable format before providing it to the user. The outputs generated by the computer are of two types.
Soft copy output
Hard copy output

Soft copy Output
The output from monitor, speaker, projector, etc. is termed as soft copy output. User cannot touch or feel this output. This output remains with the user till the computer is in ON state. User can modify the output is required.

Hard copy output
The output from printer and plotter is termed as hard copy output. User can touch or feel this output. After the output is generated, it remains with the user even if the computer is in OFF state. User cannot modify the output.

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