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B3.   Some Beginning Terms in Computer

Hardware       the physical parts of the computer.

Software        the programs (instructions) that tell the computer what to do

Data                individual facts like first name, price, quantity ordered

Information    data which has been massaged into a useful form, like a complete mailing address

Default           the original settings; what will happen if you don’t change anything
B4.   What makes a computer powerful ?

Speed             A computer can do billions of actions per second.

Reliability       Failures are usually due to human error, one way or another.(Blush for us all!)

Storage          A computer can keep huge amounts of data

B5.   What’s So Special   About Computers

The five major characteristics of computers which have made them so powerful and useful are :

·   Speed
·   Accuracy
·   Consistency
·   Storage Capacity
·   Flexibility

Speed            Computers work at an incredible speed. This can be gauged from the fact that the speed of the computers is measured in terms of milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds or Pico seconds, i.e. one thousandth, one millionth, one billionth, and one trillionth of a second, respectively. Chances are there that the computer you are presently working on, would be processing information at the speed of a couple of a million instructions per second, also called MIPS in computer jargon.

Accuracy      In addition to being fast, computers are also accurate. They either give the correct answer or do not answer at all. However, it must be remembered that the computer is capable of doing only what it is instructed to do. If faulty instruction are provided  for processing the data, obviously faulty answers will be given. This is also called GIGO, i.e. Garbage In Garbage Out. Hence, the only possibility of an error occurring is due to inaccurate instructions or faulty data.

Consistency            Unlike human beings, computers being machines are highly consistent. They never get bored too ! I am yet to meet a computer complaining of a monotonous job ! Hence, they are ideal machine for carrying out repetitive and voluminous work.

StorageCapacity   Today’s computers can store huge amounts of data. Once recorded, a piece of information is never forgotten ( unless some problem takes place) and any information can be retrieved almost instantaneously. To give you an idea of storage capacity, a single CD ROM can contain the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, and more !

Flexibility      A Computer is a versatile machine and its use is limited only by your imagination. However, computers have one major limitation, computers are not originally creative, and they would never be. They would never be able to write An Old Man and the Sea, they would never be able to paint a Monalisa (although they can faultlessly duplicate it). And thank God for it !
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