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Mechanical Engineering


Basic Introduction to Computer

(CSIT 1042)

Lecture 1

Introduction to Computers

Prepared by: Addisu D. July, 2017

Unit Contents

Introduction to computers
Characteristics of Computers
Computer Systems
Major computer hardware components and peripheral
Major features of software
Classification of computers
Developmental history of computers

Introduction to Computers
What is Computer?
The term Computer is derived from compute which means to
A computer is an electronic device, operating under the control
of instructions stored in its own memory that can
Accept data (input)
Process the data according to specified rules
Produce information (output), and
Store the information for future use.
Computers process data (input) into information (output).
Data is a collection of unprocessed items, which can include
text, numbers, images, audio, and video.
Information conveys meaning and is useful to people. Many
daily activities either involve the use of or depend on information
3 from a computer.
Introduction to Computers
Computers carry out processes using instructions, which are the
steps that tell the computer how to perform a particular task.
A set of instructions for a computer to follow is called a
program. The collection of programs used by a computer is
referred to as the software for that computer.
The computer performs basically five major operations of
functions irrespective of their size and make. These are
1) it accepts data or instruction by way of input,
2) it stores data,
3) it can process data as required by the user,
4) it gives results in the form of output, and
5) it controls all operations inside a computer.

Introduction to Computers

Characteristics of Computers
The characteristics which make computer indispensable are
1. Speed
The computer is able to process the data and gives the output
in fractions of seconds, such that required information is
given to the user on time enabling the user to take right
decisions on right time.
A powerful computer is capable of executing about 3 million
calculations per second
2. Accuracy
The accuracy of computers is consistently high enough which
avoids any errors. If it all there are errors, they are due to
errors in instructions given by the programmer.

Characteristics of Computers
3. Reliable
The output generated by the computer is very reliable, but it
is reliable only when the data, which is passing as input to
the computer and the program, which gives instructions are
correct and reliable.
4. Storage Capacity
The computer has a provision to store large volumes of data
in the small storage devices, which have capacity to store
huge amounts of data and help the retrieval of data an easy
5. Versatile
Computers are very versatile machines. Computers are
capable of performing almost any task ,provided the task
can be reduced to a series of logical steps.
Characteristics of Computers
5. Automation
Once the instructions fed into computer it works
automatically without any human intervention until the
completion of execution of program or meets logical
instructions to terminate the job.
6. Diligent
A computer is free from tiredness, lack of concentration,
fatigue, etc. It can work for hours without creating any error.
If millions of calculations are to be performed, a computer
will perform every calculation with the same accuracy.
Due to this capability it overpowers human being in routine
type of work.

Computer Systems
The computer can be
thought of as having five
main components:
input device(s),
output device(s),
processor (also called
the CPU, for central
processing unit),
main memory, and
secondary memory
Central Processing unit
further includes
Arithmetic logic unit and
control unit.
Computer Systems

Computer Systems

Computer Systems
Input Devices
An input device is any device that allows a person to
communicate information to the computer. Your primary input
devices are likely to be a keyboard and a mouse.
Common input devices are the keyboard, mouse, scanner,
microphone, and digital camera.
Output Devices
An output device is anything that allows the computer to
communicate information to you.
Three commonly used output devices are a printer, a monitor, and
A printer produces text and graphics on a physical medium such
as paper. A monitor displays text, graphics, and videos on a
screen. Speakers allow you to hear music, voice, and other audio
Computer Systems

System Unit
The system unit is a case that contains the electronic
components of the computer that are used to process data
The circuitry of the system unit usually is part of or is
connected to a circuit board called the motherboard.
Two main components on the motherboard are the processor
and memory.
The processor, also called a CPU (central processing unit), is
the electronic component that interprets and carries out the
basic instructions that operate the computer.
The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is a chip, located on the
motherboard, which performs mathematical calculations and
logic functions (determining if one value is greater than
another, and so on).
The CPU is often referred to as the brain of the computer
15 because it administers the functions of the other components.
System Unit
CPU includes Arithmetic logic unit (ALU) and control unit
Arithmetic Logic Unit
All calculations and comparisons, based on the
instructions provided, are carried out within the ALU.
It performs arithmetic functions like addition, subtraction,
multiplication, division and also logical operations like
greater than, less than and equal to etc.
Control Unit
Controlling of all operations like input, processing and
output are performed by control unit.
It takes care of step by step processing of all operations
inside the computer.

System Unit
The motherboard is the largest circuit board inside the computer.
It contains millions of electronic circuit elements on chips of

System Unit
The primary components of the motherboard are
The actual processor
Slots for RAM memory chips
Controlling circuits for the mouse, keyboard, disk drives, and
Slots for other types of cards such as sound, video, network,
and modem
The motherboard has expansion sockets or slots (known as the
bus). These slots permit installation of additional circuit boards.
On the motherboard are some special ROM (Read-Only
Memory) chips that contain the BIOS (Basic Input/output
The BIOS is the component that checks your computers
components and causes the operating system to start.
System Unit

System Unit

Computers memory can be classified into two types; Primary
memory and secondary memory.
Primary Memory can be further classified as RAM and ROM.
RAM (Random Access Memory), special chips connected to the
CPU, is the area where programs and data reside while in use.
Main memory is commonly known as random-access memory, or
RAM. It is called this because the CPU is able to quickly access
data stored at any random location in RAM.
It is the place in a computer where the operating system,
application programs and the data in current use are kept
temporarily so that they can be accessed by the computers
When you close a document, the CPU frees up the memory that
was occupied by the document. When you close a program,
memory is also freed up.
It is said to be volatile since its contents are accessible only as
long as the computer is on. The contents of RAM are no more
available once the computer is turned off.
RAM holds data only so long as it has electricity. If the machine is
turned off or loses power, information in RAM is lost. Thats why
any changes not saved before the machine is turned off cannot be
When you start an application (Microsoft Word, for example), the
computer places the program into RAM. If you then open a
document, it also loads the document into RAM. When you save a
document, the CPU copies the document from RAM to permanent
In modern PCs, RAM capacity is measured in gigabytes). The
more RAM your computer has, the better it is able to run programs
that require processing power.

More RAM means

Faster performance
Can have more open files at one time
Can work with larger, more complex files
Can have more programs running at one time

ROM or Read Only Memory
ROM or Read Only Memory is a special type of memory
which can only be read and contents of which are not lost even
when the computer is switched off.
It typically contains startup information and manufacturers
ROM devices do not allow data stored on them to be modified.
The basic input/output program (BIOS) is stored in the
ROM that examines and initializes various equipment
attached to the PC when the switch is turned ON.
The memories, which do not lose their content on failure
of power supply, are known as non-volatile memories.
ROM is nonvolatile memory.
Secondary Memory
Secondary/auxiliary memory is devices that
are peripheral and are connected and
controlled by the computer to enable
permanent storage of programs and data.
Several different kinds of secondary
memory can be attached to a single
computer. The most common forms of
secondary memory are hard disks, diskettes,
CDs, DVDs and removable flash memory
drives. (Diskettes are also sometimes
referred to as floppy disks.)
Hard disks are fixed in place and are normally
not removed from the disk drive
Diskettes and CDs can be easily removed from
the disk drive and carried to another computer.
Secondary storage devices are of two types; magnetic and
optical. Magnetic devices include hard disks and optical
storage devices are CDs, DVDs.
Comparison tween Main memory (RAM) and secondary
Memory (Hard disk)


Computer cannot do anything on its own. It is the user who

instructs computer; what to do, how to do and when to do.
In order to perform any task, you have to give a set of
instructions in a particular sequence to the computer. These
sets of instructions are called Programs.
A program, consists of a series of related instructions,
organized for a common purpose, that tells the computer what
tasks to perform and how to perform them.
Software refers to a set of programs that makes the hardware
perform a particular set of tasks in particular order.
You interact with a program through its graphical user
interface (GUI).
The graphical user interface controls how you enter data and
instructions and how information is displayed on the screen

What is a graphical user interface (GUI)?

Allows you to
interact with
the software
using graphics
and icons
Controls how
you enter data
and how the
screen displays

The two categories of software are
1. System software and
2. Application software
System Software
System software consists of the programs that control or
maintain the operations of the computer and its devices. System
software serves as the interface between the user, the application
software, and the computers hardware.
Two types of system software are the operating system and
utility programs.
An operating system is a set of programs that coordinates all the
activities among computer hardware devices. It provides a
means for users to communicate with the computer and other
You do not normally talk directly to the computer, but
communicate with it through an operating system.
The operating system allocates the computers resources to the
different tasks that the computer must accomplish.
The operating system is actually a program, but it is perhaps
better to think of it as your chief servant. It is in charge of all
your other servant programs, and it delivers your requests to
If you want to run a program, you tell the operating system the
name of the file that contains it, and the operating system runs
the program.
The names of some common operating systems are UNIX, DOS,
Linux, Windows, and Mac OS.

Utility Program
A utility program allows a user to perform maintenance-type tasks
usually related to managing a computer, its devices, or its
For example, you can use a utility program to transfer digital
photos to an optical disc.
Most operating systems include several utility programs for
managing disk drives, printers, and other devices and media.
You also can buy utility programs that allow you to perform
additional computer management functions.
Utility programs are programs that bridge the gap between the
functionality of an OS and the needs of users.
Utility programs are a broad category of software such as Partition
Magic, Backup utility, Antivirus, Data Recovery, Security
Software, Win Ghost, compress (zip)/uncompress (unzip) files
software, etc.
Application Software
Application software consists of programs designed to make users
more productive and/ or assist them with specific personal tasks.
A widely used type of application software related to
communications is a Web browser, which allows users with an
Internet connection to access and view Web pages or access
Other popular application software includes word processing
software, spreadsheet software, database software, and presentation
Many other types of application software exist that enable users to
perform a variety of tasks. These include personal information
management, note taking, project management, accounting,
document management, computer aided design, paint/image
editing, photo editing, audio and video editing, education,
32 reference, and entertainment (e.g., games or simulations, etc.).
Classification of Computers
Computers can be generally classified by size and power. The
computer classification from the largest to the smallest single
unit is as follows: Supercomputers, Mainframe Computers, Mini
Computers, Workstations and Micro Computers.
Supercomputers are the fastest, most powerful, most expensive
and highest capacity computers.
Supercomputers are the fastest problem solvers available. They
work at extremely high speeds.
They are employed for specialized applications that require
immense amounts of mathematical calculations. For example,
weather forecasting requires a super computer.
Other uses of supercomputers include animated graphics, fluid
dynamics calculations, nuclear energy research, and petroleum
33 exploration.
Classification of Computers

Typically priced from $1 million to more than $350 million,

supercomputers are high-capacity machines with thousands of
processors that can perform more than several trillion
calculations per second. These are the most expensive and fastest
34 computers available.
Classification of Computers
Mainframe computers
Mainframe computers are large-sized, powerful multi-user
computers that can support concurrent programs. That means,
they can perform different actions or processes at the same
Mainframe computers can be used by as many as hundreds or
thousands of users at the same time.
Large organizations such as banks, airlines, and insurance
companies use a mainframe computer to execute large-scale
processes such as industry and consumer statistics, enterprise
resource planning, and financial transactions.
In some ways, mainframes are more powerful than
supercomputers because they support more simultaneous
programs. But supercomputers can execute a single program
faster than a mainframe.
Classification of Computers

The chief difference

between a
supercomputer and a
mainframe is that a
channels all its power
into executing a few
programs as fast as
possible, whereas a
mainframe uses its
power to execute
many programs
Fig. A mainframe computer

Classification of Computers
Mini-computers are mid-sized multi-processing computers.
Again, they can perform several actions at the same time and can
support from 4 to 200 users simultaneously.
In recent years the distinction between mini-computers and small
mainframes has become blurred.

Classification of Computers
Workstations are powerful, single-user computers. They have the
capacity to store and process large quantities of data, but they are
only used by one person at a time.
However, workstations are typically linked together to form a
computer network called a local area network, which means that
several people, such as staff in an office, can communicate with
each other and share electronic files and data.
A workstation is similar to a personal computer but is more
powerful and often comes with a higher-quality monitor.
In terms of computing power, workstations lie in between personal
computers and mini-computers.
Workstations commonly support applications that require
relatively high-quality graphics capabilities and a lot of memory,
such as desktop publishing, software development and engineering
38 applications.
Classification of Computers
Personal computers (PCs), also called microcomputers, are
the most popular type of computer in use today. The PC is a
small-sized, relatively inexpensive computer designed for an
individual user.
Computers may be called desktop computers, which stay on
the desk, or laptop computers, which are lightweight and
Organizations and individuals use PCs for a wide range of
tasks, including word processing, accounting, desktop
publishing, preparation and delivery of presentations,
organisation of spreadsheets and database management.
Nowadays PCs are much more powerful than a few years ago,
and today there is little distinction between PCs and
Classification of Computers

Fig. Examples of PCs

Developmental History of Computers
Earliest Computer
Originally calculations were computed by humans, whose job
title was computers.
The first use of the word "computer was recorded in 1613,
referring to a person who carried out calculations, or
computations, and the word continued to be used in that sense
until the middle of the 20th century.
Abacus (4000 years ago to 1975)
An abacus is a mechanical device used to aid an individual in
performing mathematical calculations.
The abacus was invented in Babylonia in 2400 B.C.
This device allows user to calculate, by sliding beads
arrangement on rack.
Developmental History of Computers
The abacus was used for thousands of years by merchants
throughout the ancient world.
Beads represent figures (data); by moving the beads according
to rules, the user can add, subtract, multiply, or divide.
The abacus remained in use until a worldwide deluge of cheap
pocket calculators put the abacus out of work.

Earlier Abacus Modern Abacus

Developmental History of Computers
Napiers Bones
Invented by John Napier in 1614.
Allowed the operator to multiply, divide and calculate
square and cube roots by moving the rods around and
placing them in specially constructed boards.

John Napier
43 Napiers Bones
Developmental History of Computers
Slide Rule
Invented by William Oughtred
in 1622.
Is based on Napier's ideas about
Used primarily for
division William Oughtred

Not normally used for
addition or subtraction.
44 Slide Rule
Developmental History of Computers

Blaise Pascals Pascaline

In 1642 Blaise Pascal, the 18 year old son of a French tax
collector, invented a numerical wheel calculator to help his
father in calculation.
This device was known as Pascaline and was only able to
add two numbers.

Blaise Pascal Pascaline

Developmental History of Computers

Stepped Reckoner
Invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in 1674.
The machine that can add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers.
Square roots are performed by series of stepped additions.

Stepped Reckoner
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

Developmental History of Computers
Charles Babbage (1791-1871) The Father of Computers
An English mathematician, Professor Charles Babbage made a
difference Engine in 1833, which was powered by steam to solve
mathematical equations.
After 10 years, in 1842, he made a general purpose computer
named Analytical Engine. This analytical engine could add,
subtract, multiply and divide in automatic sequence at a rate of 60
additions per second.
It is the first mechanical computer.

47 Difference Analytical
Charles Babbage Engine Engine
Developmental History of Computers
First Computer Programmer
In 1840, Augusta Ada
Byron suggests to Babbage
that he use the binary
She writes programs for the
Analytical Engine.

Augusta Ada Byron

Developmental History of Computers
Scheutzian Calculation Engine
Invented by Per Georg Scheutz in 1843.
Based on Charles Babbage's difference engine.
The first printing calculator.

Per Georg Scheutz Scheutzian Calculation Engine

Developmental History of Computers

Tabulating Machine
Invented by Herman Hollerith in 1890.
To assist in summarizing information and accounting

Herman Hollerith

Tabulating Machine
Developmental History of Computers

Havard Mark 1
Also known as IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled
Calculator (ASCC).
Invented by Howard H. Aiken in 1943
The first electro-mechanical computer.

Howard H. Aiken

Mark 1
Developmental History of Computers

The first programmable computer.
Created by Konrad Zuse in Germany from 1936 to 1938.
To program the Z1 required that the user insert punch tape into
a punch tape reader and all output was also generated through
punch tape.

Konrad Zuse Z1
Developmental History of Computers
Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC)
It was the first electronic digital computing device.
Invented by Professor John Atanasoff and graduate student
Clifford Berry at Iowa State University between 1939 and

Professor John Atanasoff Atanasoff-Berry Computer

Developmental History of Computers
ENIAC stands for Electronic
Numerical Integrator and Computer.
It was the first electronic general-
purpose computer.
Completed in 1946.
Developed by John Presper Eckert and
John W. Mauchly at the University of
It was 1000 times faster than Mark I.
It occupied 15000 square feet of floor
spacing and weighs 30 tons.
The ENIAC could do 5000 additions
per minute
Developmental History of Computers

Stands for Electronic Discrete
Variable Automatic Computer
Proposed by Mauchly and Eckert
in August 1944.
Designed by Von Neumann in
The First Stored Program
It has a memory to hold both a
stored program as well as data.
Contained approximately 4000
vacuum tubes and 10,000 crystal
55 diodes.
Developmental History of Computers

Automatic Computer 1) was
the first commercial
Designed by J. Presper
Eckert and John Mauchly.
It was based on the EDVAC
The development started on UNIVAC 1

1948 and the first unit was

delivered on 1951.

Developmental History of Computers

Osborne 1
The first portable computer.
Released in 1981 by the Osborne Computer Corporation

Osborne 1

Developmental History of Computers
The First Computer Company
The first computer company was the Electronic Controls
Founded in 1949 by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly.

Developmental History of Computers
Computer Generations
A term which refers to the different advancements of
computer technology characterized by the way computers
operate resulting to miniaturization, speed, power, and
proportionally increased memory.
There are five generations of computer
First generation 1946 1958
Second generation 1959 1964
Third generation 1965 1970
Fourth generation 1971 today
Fifth generation Today to future

Developmental History of Computers
1st Generation (1946 1958)
Computers are huge, taking up entire rooms,
slow, and very expensive.
They used vacuum tubes for circuitry.
They used magnetic drums for memory.
In addition to using a great deal of electricity,
generated a lot of heat, which was often the
cause of malfunctions.
First generation computers relied on machine
language, the lowest-level programming
language understood by computers, to Vacuum tube

perform operations, and they could only solve

one problem at a time.

Developmental History of Computers
1st Generation (1946 1958)
The first generation of computers started
with ENIAC.
It was then followed by the IBM UNIVAC
I (Universal Automatic Computer) built by
Mauchly and Eckert in 1951.
The first generation computers used
vacuum tubes. Because of vacuum tubes,
the first generation computers were very
large, required lot of energy, slow in Fig. The ENIAC machine
input/output, and suffered with heat and
maintenance problems.
Further, the vacuum tubes needed to be
replaced often as they had short life span.

Developmental History of Computers

2nd Generation (1959 1964)

To overcome difficulties faced in the first generation computers
due to the use of vacuum tubes, transistors were used in the
second generation computers.
Transistor is a small component made of semiconductor material.
With transistors, the problem of heat was minimized and
computers size was reduced.
One transistor is equivalent to 40 vacuum tubes.
The computers now could perform operations comparatively
faster. The storage capacity was also improved.
Instead of working with machine language now the machine could
work with higher level languages such as ALGOL and
An example of a second generation computer is IBM 1620.
Developmental History of Computers

2nd Generation (1959 1964)

Transistors allow computers to become smaller, faster,
cheaper, more energy-efficient, and more reliable.
Heat generation problem that could inflict damage to
computer is still existing.

Developmental History of Computers
3rd Generation (1965 1970)
Third generation computers used Integrated
Circuits (ICs) instead of transistors.
These circuits are fixed on silicon chip. A
silicon chip consumes less than one-eighth of
an inch square on which many electronic
components like diodes, transistors,
capacitors etc. can be fixed.
The emergence of integrated circuits was the
hallmark of the 3rd generation of computers.
Transistors were miniaturized and placed on
silicon chips, called semiconductors.
Computers speed drastically increased as
well as its efficiency.
Computers became accessible to the mass
since it is smaller and cheaper.
Developmental History of Computers
4th Generation (1971 present)
The microprocessor brought the fourth generation of computers,
as thousands of integrated circuits were built onto a single
silicon chip.
Computers are now very small.
Microprocessors was intended for calculators but applied to
computers later.
Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), mouse and handheld devices
are introduced.

Developmental History of Computers
5th Generation (Present and beyond)
Based on Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Still in development.
The use of parallel processing and superconductors is helping
to make artificial intelligence a reality.
The goal is to develop devices that respond to natural
language input and are capable of learning and self-
There are some applications, such as voice recognition, that
are being used today.

End of Lecture 1

Next Lecture
Lecture 2: File Handling with Windows