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Computing Fundamentals

Using Windows XP – IC³ Module A

Unit 1:

Lesson 1:
Computers All
Around Us
Lesson 1: Computers All Around Us

 Supercomputer
 Mainframe
 Minicomputer
 Personal Computer
 Notebook or Laptop
 Personal Digital Assistant
 Pocket PC
 Cellular Phones
 Other Electronic Computing Devices
How Computers Can Be Used
 Personal computers (PC) are very
powerful tools
– Can perform calculations very quickly
– Can complete many complex tasks
– Called a microcomputer
 Computers keep getting smaller but large
computers are still used
 Power and speed main characteristics that
differentiate various types of computers
Large Systems
 Supercomputer considered fastest type of
– Very expensive due to
amount of information
– Generally specialized
software programs installed
and used for scientific and
engineering tasks
– Power goes into running and
performing calculations

Large Systems
 Mainframe computers fill an entire room
 Can simultaneously handle hundreds of programs and users
without sacrificing performance
 Processes large volumes of data at incredible speeds
 Commonly found in government agencies or large
 Sometimes called centralized systems

Cray X1 Supercomputer

Large Systems
 Minicomputers fill part of a room
 Process data at slower rate and
in smaller volumes
 Noticeable reduction in speed
with more users
 Commonly found in medium-
sized manufacturing companies
and legal or accounting firms

Personal Computers
 Microcomputers sit on, beside or under a desk, process
data quickly, and are designed for one user
 Generally two types of microcomputers: PC or Apple
 Which computer to use depends on what’s required, or
personal preference
 Majority of companies use PCs due to the wide variety of
software programs available
 Apple machines traditionally used in specialized industries
such as graphics design or publishing
 Newer software programs have few differences between

Apple 7
Notebooks or Laptop Computers
 Notebook/Laptop computers are portable microcomputers
 Similar to desktop models in speed, performance and usage
 Laptops got name from the fact that you could rest the
computer on top of your lap and work
 Not always popular due to weight and design elements
 Newer models are smaller and lighter and are now the size
of a paper notebook
 Accessories, purchased separately, can enhance enjoyment
and experience of using notebook
 Cost of notebooks now relatively low in comparison to when
first introduced

PC Apple 8
 Appear similar to a notebook but usually screen can be
swiveled or folded over
 User can write or select items using special pen designed
for tablet
 Have touch screen capability installed for easy data entry
with pen or stylo device, or built-in keyboard
 Can be seen being used in hospitals or by home inspectors,
engineers and salespeople
 Can also be used for electronic/interactive books

Personal Digital Assistants
 Small palm-sized computers
 Have software installed with features for organizing
information, similar to a calendar or organizer book
 Pocket PC has microprocessor chip and software to create
documents in addition to the organizer program that comes
with all PDAs
 Some PDAs also have digital cameras, video/audio, or
Internet capabilities

Monochrome PDA Color PDAs Pocket PC with

Digital Camera
Personal Digital Assistants
 Newer cellular phones can include access to the Internet or
software to create documents, listen to music, take pictures
or video, send text messages, and send e-mail
 Cost varies with the number of features and capabilities for
each cellular phone, Pocket PC, or PDA and extras such as
connection to the Internet, e-mail capability and extra
software are separate expenses

 Essentially any computer that does not have a
local disk drive for storage; all information comes
from a central network
 Usually a system that requires a lot of power for
processing files, such as drafting, desktop
publishing, graphics design, video editing and
 Generally operating system used for these
computers will either be Unix or Windows NT
 Can either be connected to network where
multiple users share the same software or data
files, or used solely by one person
Other Types of Computers
 Computers can be found in variety of areas not often
– Automobiles have computers built into the engine to
help diagnose problems
– Automated Teller Machines use specialized software to
interact with bank’s database network
– Manufacturing uses computerized robotic technology and
systems to control or run production equipment
– Health industry have computerized equipment or
customized software to help analyze information
 Computer is really a very large and advanced calculator
that performs tasks
– Based on the hexadecimal computations of 1 or 0
 Computers need network to communicate with others to
share information