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Computer Basics and Terminology


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Title: Computer Basics and Terminology

  • Computer Basics and Terminology

Operating Systems
  • What type of operating system do cars use?
  • Most run on gasoline thus many cars have a
    gasoline operating system, but some cars have
    different operating systems.
  • Diesel
  • Hydrogen
  • Electric
  • Solar

Operating Systems
  • In a computer, the operating system is the
    computer code that controls the internal
    operations of the computer. This code is what
    makes the computer go.
  • Popular Operating Systems
  • Windows (95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista) Found on
    90 of the personal computers
  • Mac-OS Found on Mac Computers
  • Linux found on a few personal computers
    (primarily the playground of computer geeks)
  • Unix used with mainframe computers

Old Operating Systems
  • CPM (Control Program for Microprocessors)
  • Early computers like the KayPro used this
  • MS-DOS (Microsoft Disc Operating System)
  • This was the predecessor to Windows
  • All you saw on the screen was a C prompt - C
  • You had to type a command to get anything to

Basic Computer Terminology
  • CPU Central Processing Unit
  • The brains of the computer
  • Major manufacturers
  • Intel (80 percent of the market)
  • Pentium
  • Celeron
  • AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) 5 of the market
  • Athalon
  • IBM ??

What to Look for in a CPU
  • Processing Speed
  • The Old Days
  • 4.7 Mhz early 80s
  • 10 Mhz mid 80s
  • A turbo switch was needed on computers because
    some software couldnt run at 10 Mhz
  • Today
  • 3,000 MHz is common (3 Gigahertz)
  • 4,000 MHZ (4 GHz) is now available
  • For most business applications 3 GHz is adequate,
    faster CPUs are needed for video rendering and
    game playing

Intel CPUs
What to Look for in a CPU
  • On-board Cache (L1 L2)
  • Temporary Memory on the CPU
  • Increases processing speed because the computer
    doesnt have to write the temporary data to the
    hard drive
  • Common Cache Sizes
  • 64 K
  • 128 K
  • 256 K
  • 512 K

What to Look for in a CPU
  • Cache Speed (the speed at which data is written
    to the cache)

Basic Computer Terminology
  • Memory
  • RAM (Random Access Memory)
  • More is better
  • Determines how many programs can be open at one
    time and how many files can be handled
  • 256 K is now on the low end
  • 512 K is average
  • 1028 K is preferred (commonly called 1 gigabyte)
  • Programs in the future will require more and more
  • More memory is the key to maximizing computer

Random Access Memory
  • Think of RAM as a desktop, the bigger the
    desktop, the more materials you can have out and
    open (I.e. the more programs you can have open
    and running). YOU CANT HAVE TOO MUCH RAM.

Basic Computer Terminology
  • Motherboard
  • The main circuit board inside a computer, which
    contains the central processing unit, the bus,
    memory sockets, expansion slots, and other
  • Various cards plug into slots on the motherboard

Basic Computer Terminology
  • Hard Drive
  • An electro-mechanical device that stores data
    (programs, files)
  • Typically referred to as the C drive
  • Generally, the bigger the better
  • MB (Megabytes)
  • GB (Gigabytes)
  • 80 GB is the minimum I would consider

The Case, the insides
Hard Drive
  • Consider the hard drive to be the big drawer in a
    desk. It is used for storage.

Hard Drive Considerations
  • Generally bigger is better
  • Size is measured in Gigabytes
  • 80 Gig is the smallest I would consider
  • Most of my computers have 100 Gig hard drives
  • Digital photographs, music and video eat hard
    drive space 1 minute of video takes 1 gig

Hard Drive Considerations
  • Seek Time
  • The time it takes the computer to find a specific
    piece of data on the hard drive
  • Measured in ms (milliseconds)
  • The lower the number, the faster

Basic Computer Terminology
  • 3 ½ Floppy disk drive
  • Used for storage but is limited
  • Often go in the A drive

Basic Computer Terminology
  • 5 ¼ Floppy disk drive
  • Rarely found on a computer today
  • Often went in the B drive
  • These disks were actually floppy

Basic Computer Terminology
  • Zip drives
  • A 100 M zip disk holds the equivalent of 66 small
    (3 ½) floppy disks
  • 250 Mb is fairly common
  • The newest zip drive is a 750 MB
  • However it is much cheaper to just write files
    to a CD

Basic Computer Terminology
  • USB drives
  • USB drives, also called thumb drives or flash
    drive, are storage devices that can be plugged
    into the USB ports.
  • They come in various sizes.
  • A 1 Gb thumb drive costs about 19 (after

Basic Computer Terminology
  • CD and DVD drives and burners
  • Data can be stored on a CD
  • Movies can be viewed with a DVD drive
  • Get one of each (that can write)

Basic Computer Terminology
  • Video Card
  • An electronic device found on the motherboard
    that determines the characteristics of how images
    will be displayed on the monitor. This card
    basically broadcasts video signals to your
  • Memory on video card is important

Video Cards
  • Graphics Processing (How many bits of data are
    handled at once)
  • 32 bits (decent)
  • 64 bits (what gamers and graphic artists need)
  • 128 bits (where you really want to be)
  • Memory
  • The more the better
  • 32 MB low end
  • 64 MB Pretty Decent
  • 128 MB - Now you are talking

Sound Card and Speakers
  • Just depends upon how much you want to spend and
    how you like to hear music

Basic Computer Terminology
  • Cases
  • Tower
  • Generally sits on the floor
  • Doesnt occupy space on the desk
  • Desktop
  • Sits on desk
  • Monitor typically sits on top
  • Drive Bays
  • Which ever case you get should have open bays to
    mount additional equipment if you want to
    upgrade later

Network Interface Card (NIC)
  • A network interface card (ethernet) allows your
    computer to be hooked to a network of other
    computers or the Internet
  • Today most computers come standard with a network
    interface card
  • 10/100 is the standard (the 10/100 means the card
    is capable of transmitting data at 10Mbps
    Megabits per second up to 100 MBPS).

  • A Modem allows the computer to hook up to other
    computers or the Internet using a telephone line.
  • As networking (even home networks) becomes more
    popular, there has been a decline in demand for
  • However, it is smart to get a modem because they
    are CHEAP.
  • More about modems will be covered in a later

  • Plug in slots on the computer so that peripherals
    such as printers, digital cameras, scanners, can
    be connected to the computer.
  • Serial Port used to be the standard
  • Once nearly all printers plugged into the serial
  • They contain either 9 or 25 pins

  • Parallel ports are much faster
  • A serial port sends information through a cable
    one bit at a time, whereas a parallel port sends
    eight bits at a time along parallel

  • USB (Universal Serial Bus) became popular several
    years ago
  • Computers should have at least 4, preferable 6 or
    more USB ports.
  • Can plug a bunch of devices in without the
    conflicts presented by serial ports (in theory up
    to 127 devices can be connected)
  • Faster than serial ports
  • Most printers now plug into the USB port
  • USB2 is the new standard
  • Much faster than standard USB

  • IEE1394 port or firewire port (Sony calls them
  • Used for connecting video cameras and
    transferring video
  • Very, Very fast
  • If your computer doesnt have this port, forget
    digital movie making
  • A computer should have at least two

  • On laptop computers the firewire (IEEE 1394) port
    may look different (4 pin vs. 6 pin).

Fits this
  • Modern computers have ports on both the front and
    back of the computer. (See the next two slides)

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  • The TV like device in which you view what the
    computer is doing.
  • Very important
  • Screen size is measured from corner to corner and
    the actual measurement is always a little less
    than advertised
  • 17 and 19 inch are standard

  • DPI is crucial (Dot Pitch)
  • This is the distance (in millimeters) between the
    tiny dots on the screen that make up the picture.
    The closer together the dots, the clearer the
  • . 24 to .26 are in the ball park
  • Resolution is also critical
  • The recommended screen resolution for a monitor,
    measured in pixels (horizontal x vertical).
    Higher resolutions can allow more information to
    fit on a screen, resulting in less scrolling.
    Example 1024 x 768)

  • Standard or Flat Panel
  • Flat Panel weights considerable less and takes up
    less desk space
  • Flat Panel is easier on the eyes
  • Flat Panels costs a good bit more
  • Be Careful - Flat Screen DOES NOT mean Flat Panel

Computer Ratings - Desktop
  • Alienware -, -, 8.8
  • Dell A, 8.1, 7.9
  • Sony A, 7.9, 8.2
  • Apple A, 8.8, 9.2
  • Gateway C, 7.5, 7.7
  • Micron C, 7.9, 7.8
  • ABS -, 8.1, 8.2
  • Systemax -, -, 7.7
  • IBM/Lenova C, 7.1, 7.4
  • Acer E
  • emachines E, 7.6, 7.4
  • Compaq E
  • NEC E
  • HP E
  • HP/Compaq -, 7.3, 7.4

Grade From PC Magazine, July 2003 1st Score From
PC Magazine, July 2004 2nd Score from PC
Magazine, July 2005
Computer Utilities
  • Zip program
  • Compresses files (makes them smaller) so they can
    be e-mailed or downloaded more quickly.
  • A zip program is used to zip (compress) and unzip
    (uncompress) files.
  • The extension on a zipped file is .zip
  • Winzip is a widely used program (

Computer Utilities
  • We should all practice safe computing
  • This means your computer should have an
    up-to-date virus checker
  • All NCSU students have access to a free one at
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