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3. ADVANTAGES OF USING COMPUTERS

posted Nov 10, 2014, 12:00 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Nov 10, 2014, 12:04 AM ]

ADVANTAGES OF USING COMPUTERS

Computers have many advantages over other types of office and business equipments that are used for data processing functions.  Some of the advantages are:

advantages of computers

 1)        Computers process data faster:

The processing speed of a computer when measured against other devices like typewriters & calculators is far much higher.

2)        Computers are more accurate & reliable:

Computers produce more accurate results as long as the correct instructions & data are entered.  They also have the ability to handle numbers with many decimal places.

3)        Computers are more efficient:

A computer requires less effort to process data as compared to human beings or other machines.

4)        Computers can quickly and effectively store & retrieve large amounts of data.

5)        They are very economical when saving information, for it can conserve a lot of space.

6)        Computers occupy very little office space.

7)        Computers help to reduce paper work significantly.

8)        Computers are flexible:

A computer can perform a variety of jobs as long as there is a well-defined procedure.

9)        Computers are cheap:

They can be used to perform a number of organizational functions/ activities, which are meant for individual persons, hence reducing the number of employees & the costs.

10)    Computers enhance security & confidentiality:

Data stored in a computer can be protected from unauthorized individuals.

11)    Have made communication easier.

12)    Computers produce better information:

Computer output is usually tidy and error-free (accurate).

13)    Computers reduce the problems of data or information duplication:

14)    Computers can operate in risky environments, e.g. volcanic sites, dangerous chemical plants, where human life is threatened:

DISADVANTAGES OF USING COMPUTERS.

1)        Computers are very costly in terms of purchase & maintenance.

2)        Computers can only be used areas where there is source of power.

3)        Requires skilled manpower to operate, i.e., one has to have some knowledge so as to operate a computer.

4)        The records are usually kept in a form that is not visible or human-readable.  This makes it difficult to control the contents of the computer’s master file.

5)        A computer, like any other machine can break down.

6)        Information stored in computers can easily get lost due to power interruptions or machine breakdown.

7)        A computer doesn’t have its own intelligence, i.e., it cannot do any useful job on its own, but can only work as per the set of instructions issued.

8)        Installation of computers causes retraining or retrenchment of staff/ employees.

9)        The computer technology is changing very fast such that the already bought computers could be made obsolete/ out dated in the next few years. 

In addition, this rapid change in the computer technology makes computers & related facilities to become outdated very fast, hence posing a risk of capital loss.

10)    The emergence of computers has increased the rate of unemployment since they are now being used to perform the jobs, which were done by human beings.

11)    Computers have led to increase in computer crimes especially in Banks.  The computer criminals steal large amounts of funds belonging to various companies by transferring them out of their company accounts illegally.  In addition, they destroy vital data used in running the companies.


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9. FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE TYPE OF COMPUTER

posted Nov 9, 2014, 8:15 PM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Nov 10, 2014, 12:52 AM ]

FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE TYPE OF COMPUTER TO CHOOSE

1)        Type of processor (Central processing unit – CPU)

Microcomputers use microprocessors, which are manufactured on a single chip, as their CPU. 

I5 PROCESSOR

In larger computers such as supercomputers, mainframe & minicomputers, the processing is carried out by a number of separate, high-speed components instead of a single processor.

 2)        Processing speed.

 Every computer has a clock that drives its operations.

Larger computers have faster clocks and therefore can process many instructions per second compared to small computers, which have slower clocks.

 3)        Amount of Main memory (RAM).

 All computers have some amount of RAM (Random Access memory), which is used to hold the instructions required to perform a task.

 Larger computers have more RAM and therefore can handle large volumes of data & also support many and sophisticated programs which might require large memory sizes.

 4)        Storage capacity of the Hard disk.

 The storage capacity is the amount of space that is available for storing the instructions required to manipulate data.

 Larger computers have higher storage capacities than microcomputers.

 5)        Cost of the computer.

 The cost of computers is directly related to the size.  Microcomputers are less costly compared to minicomputers, mainframes or Supercomputers.

 6)        Speed of Output devices.

 The speed of an output device is determined by the amount of information that can be printed in a specified amount of time.

The speed of microcomputer output device is less than that of the larger computers in that:

For a microcomputer, the speed of its output device is measured by the number of characters printed per second (cps).  For larger computers, their output devices are faster and their speeds are measured depending on the number of lines or pages printed per minute (lpm / ppm). 

7)        Number of users who can access the computer at the same time.

Most microcomputers can support only 1, 2 or 3 users at the same time.  However, they can be networked to share resources. 

Larger computers can support hundreds of users at the same time.

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8. DEVELOPMENT OF COMPUTERS

posted Nov 6, 2014, 1:19 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Nov 6, 2014, 1:39 AM ]

DEVELOPMENT OF COMPUTERS.

 HISTORY OF COMPUTING.

  •  Before 1900, most data processing was done manually using simple tools like stones & sticks to count and keep records.
  • Around 2000 years ago, Asian merchants came up with a special calculating tool called Abacus that could be used to calculate large figures.
  • An Abacus is made up of a rectangular frame and a crossbar at the middle.  It is fitted with wires or strings running across from the frame to the crossbar.

How to represent a number using an Abacus.

  •  Each bead in the lower row has a value of 1, while each bead in the upper row has a value of 5.  To represent a number, the bead is moved to the crossbar.  Those beads away from the crossbar represent zeros.
  • The Figure below represents the number 6908 (Six thousand nine hundred and eight).
ABACUS
  • After Abacus, the first machine that is usually regarded as the forerunner of modern computers was named the Analytical Engine, and was developed by an English mathematician called Charles Babbage.
  • In 1939, Professor Howard Aken of Horrard University designed the first computer-like machine named Mark 1.  Since then, a series of advancements in electronics has occurred.  With each breakthrough, the computers based on the older form of electronics have been replaced by a new “generation” of computers based on the newer form of electronics.

COMPUTER GENERATIONS.

  • A Computer generation is a grouped summary of the gradual developments in the computer technology.  The historical events are not considered in terms of individual years, but are classified in durations (a period of more than a year).

1ST Generation computers (1946 – 1956).

  • The 1st generation of computers used thousands of electronic gadgets called Vacuum tubes or Thermionic valves to store & process information. 
VACUUM TUBE
  • The tubes consumed a lot power, and generated a lot of heat during processing due to overheating.
  • The computers constantly broke down due to the excessive heat generated, hence were short-lived, and were not very reliable.
  • They also used Magnetic drum memories.
  • Cards were used to enter data into the computers.
  • Their internal memory capacity was limited.  The maximum memory size was approx. 2 KB (2,000 bytes).
  • The computers used big physical devices in their circuitry; hence they were very large in size, i.e. the computer could occupy several office blocks.  For example, ENIAC occupied an area of about 150m2 - the size of an average 3-bedroom house. 
  • They were very slow - their speed was measured in Milliseconds.  E.g., ENIAC (the earliest electronic computer) could perform 5,000 additions per second & 300 multiplications per second.
  • The computers were very costly - they costed millions of dollars.

Examples of 1ST Generation computers:

  • ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator) built in 1946 for use in World War II.  It contained 18,000 Vacuum tubes.
  • EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) developed in 1945 by Dr. John Von Neumann.  It was the first computer that used instructions stored in memory.
  • UNIVAC (UNIVersal Automatic Computer).
  • IBM 650.
  • LEO (Lyon’s Electronic Office).

 2ND Generation computers (1957 – 1963).

    •  The 2nd generation computers used tiny, solid-state electronic devices called Transistors.  The transistors were relatively smaller, more stable & reliable than vacuum tubes.
TRANSISTOR
    • The computers consumed less power, produced less heat, were much faster, and more reliable than those made with vacuum tubes.
    • They used Magnetic core memories.
    • RAM Memory size expanded to 32 KB.
    • Their operation speed increased to between 200,000 – 300,000 instructions per second.  Their speeds were measured in Microseconds.  E.g., a computer could perform 1 million additions per second, which was comparatively higher than that of the 1st generation computers.
    • The computers were smaller in size & therefore, occupied less space compared to the 1st G computers.
    • They were less costly than the 1st G computers.

Examples of 2nd Generation computers:

      • ¨       NCR 501, IBM 300, IBM 1401, IBM 7070, IBM 7094 Series & CDC-6600 Mainframe computers.

      • ¨       ATLAS LEO Mark III.

      • ¨       UNIVAC 1107.

      • ¨       HONEYWELL 200.

3RD Generation computers (1964 – 1979).

  • Used electronic devices called Integrated Circuits (ICs), which were made by combining thousands of transistors & diodes together on a semiconductor called a Silicon chip.
INTERGRATED CIRCUIT
  • The processing speed increased to 5 Million instructions per second (5 MIPS).
  • The storage capacity of the computers (i.e., the RAM memory sizes) expanded to 2 MB.
  • They were smaller in size compared to 2nd generation computers.
  • The computers used a wide range of peripheral devices.
  •  The computers could support more than user at the same time.  They were also able to support remote communication facilities.
  • Magnetic disks were developed for storage purposes.
  • The 1st microcomputer was produced during this period (1974).

     Examples of 3rd Generation computers:

    ¨       IBM 360, 370;

    ¨       ICL 1900 Series;

    ¨       8-bit Microcomputers & PDP-11 Mainframe computers.

4TH Generation computers (1979 – 1989).

    • The 4th generation computers used Large Scale Integrated (LSI) circuits & Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) circuits.  These circuits were made by compressing more tiny circuits and transistors into even smaller space of the silicon chip.
VLSI

    • The computers were small, and very fast.  Their processing speeds increased to 50 Million instructions per second.
    • Had large storage capacity, i.e., their memory sizes expanded to several hundred Megabytes.
    • Memories used included Magnetic disks, Bubble memories & Optical disks.

      Examples of 4th Generation computers:

      ¨       IBM 308 and 4300;

      ¨       Amdahl 580

      ¨       Honeywell DPS-88

      ¨       Burroughs 7700, and the 16-bit & 32-bit microcomputers.  The first microcomputer was called Apple II.

5TH Generation computers (1990 – Present).

  • In this generation fall today’s computers.
  • The technologies used are Parallel architectures, 3-Dimensional circuit design & super conducting materials. 
  • These technologies have led to the development of computers referred to as Supercomputers, which are very powerful, and have very high processing speeds.  Their speeds are measured in Nanoseconds & Picoseconds.
  • They are able to perform parallel (or multiprocessing) whereby a single task is split among a number of processors.
  • The memory sizes range between 1 Gigabyte & 1 Terabyte.
  • The computers are designed using VLSI and the Microchip technology that has given rise to the smaller computers, known as Microcomputers used today.
  • The computers have special instruction sets that allow them to support complex programs that mimic human intelligence often referred to as Artificial Intelligence.  Such programs can help managers to make decisions and also provide critical expert services to users instead of relying on human professionals.
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7. PARTS OF A COMPUTER

posted Oct 31, 2014, 7:00 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Oct 31, 2014, 10:12 AM ]

PARTS OF A COMPUTER

A computer is made up of a collection of different components that are interconnected together in order to work as a single entity.

 A Computer consists of the following parts/devices: -

                         1.      The System Unit.

2.      Input devices.

3.      Output devices.

4.      Storage devices.

System Unit.

This is the casing (unit) that houses electronic components such as the ‘brain’ of the computer called the Central processing Unit (CPU) and storage devices. 

 The components in the System unit include: -

  •  Central Processing Unit (CPU), which is also referred to as Processor.
  • Motherboard.
  • Power supply unit.
  • Memory storage devices.
  • Disk drives, which are used to store, record and read data.
computer case

 Types of System units

There are two makes of System units:

 a)      Tower style system unit

 This system unit is made to stand alone.  They are designed to be placed on the floor.

Tower style units have more space for expansion than the typical desktop units.

 b)     Desktop system units

 Desktop units lie on the desk with the monitor resting on top of the system unit. 

Features of the System unit.

  • ­ It houses the CPU.
  • ­ It connects to all peripheral devices using ports.
  • ­ It has the computer’s Power switch.

The Central processing unit (CPU)

  •  This is the brain of the computer, and carries out all the processing within the computer

Input devices.

  •  These are the devices used to enter/put data into the computer.
  • They accept data for processing & convert it into a suitable form that the computer can understand.

 Examples: Keyboard, Mouse, Joysticks, Light pen, Scanner, etc.               

 The Keyboard

 The keyboard looks like a typewriter, and has letters, numbers and other keys through which data is entered into the computer.

 To enter data & instructions into the computer, the user should press the required keys.

 The Mouse

 It is a pointing device that enables the user to issue instructions to the computer by controlling a special mouse pointer displayed on the screen.

 Output devices.

  •  Output devices are used to give the end results of data that was entered into the computer.
  • They extract/ disseminate processed data (information) from the computer.

  • ­ They accept data from processing devices & convert it into human sensible form. 
  • Examples: Screens (Monitors), Printers, Graph plotters, Speakers, etc

 The Monitor

 It is a television like screen used for displaying output.  When you type a letter or number on the keyboard, it shows up on the monitor.

 Note.  The monitor enables the user to monitor/track or see what is going on in the computer.

 Printer

 Printers are used to create permanent copies of output on paper.

 Computer peripherals.

 A computer is basically made up of a system unit and other devices connected to the system unit called Peripheral devices.

 Peripheral devices are the elements (components) connected to the system unit so as to assist the computer satisfy its users. 

 Peripheral devices are connected to the System unit using special cables called data interface cables that carry data, programs & information to and from the processor.  The cables are connected to the system unit using connectors called Ports.

 Examples of peripheral devices include;

­ Monitor,                                                                   - Keyboard,                                                     - Mouse

­ Printer.                                                                     - Modem.                                                        Speakers.

­ Plotter.

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5. Characteristics - Features of a Computer.

posted Oct 30, 2014, 11:07 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Oct 30, 2014, 11:52 PM ]

Characteristics / Features of a Computer.

 Before 20th century, most information was processed manually or by use of simple machines.  Today, millions of people are using computers in offices and at home to produce and store all types of information

 The following are some of the attributes that make computers widely accepted & used in the day-to-day activities in our society:

 1.      Speed.

  •  Computers operate at very high speeds, and can perform very many functions within a very short time.

  2.      Accuracy:

  •  Unlike human beings, computers are very accurate, i.e., they never make mistakes. 
  • A computer can work for very long periods without going wrong.  However, when an error occurs the computer has a number of in-built, self-checking features in their electronic components that can detect & correct such errors. 
  •   Usually errors are committed by the users entering the data to the computer, thus the saying Garbage in Garbage Out (GIGO).
  • This means that, if you enter incorrect data into the computer and have it processed, the computer will give you misleading information.

 3.      Reliability.

  • The computer can be relied upon to produce the correct answer if it is given the correct instructions & supplied with the correct data.
  •  Therefore, if you want to add two numbers, but by mistake, give the computer a “Multiply” instruction, the computer will not know that you intended to “ADD”; it will multiply the numbers supplied.

4.      Consistency:

  •  Computers are usually consistent.  This means that, given the same data & the same instructions, they will produce the same answer every time that particular process is repeated.

5.      Storage:

  •  A computer is capable of storing large amounts of data or instructions in a very small space.
  • A computer can store data & instructions for later use, and it can produce/ retrieve this data when required so that the user can make use of it. 
  • Data stored in a computer can be protected from unauthorized individuals through the use of passwords.

6.      Diligence:

  • Unlike human beings, a computer can work continuously without getting tired or bored.  Even if it has to do a million calculations, it will do the last one with the same speed and accuracy as the first one.

7.      Automation:

  • A computer is an automatic device.  This is because, once given the instructions, it is guided by these instructions and can carry on its job automatically until it is complete.
  • It can also perform a variety of jobs as long as there is a well-defined procedure.

8.      Versatile:

  • A computer can be used in different places to perform a large number of different jobs depending on the instructions fed to it.

9.      Imposition of a formal approach to working methods:

  • Because a computer can only work with a strict set of instructions, it identifies and imposes rigid rules for dealing with the data it is given to process.

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4. Information

posted Oct 30, 2014, 10:55 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Oct 30, 2014, 11:51 PM ]

Information:

  • Information is the data which has been refined, summarized & manipulated in the way you want it, or into a more meaningful form for decision-making.
  • The information must be accurate, timely, complete and relevant.

Comparison between Data and Information.

Data

Information

1.      Unprocessed (raw) facts or figures.

2.      Not arranged.

3.      Does not have much meaning to the user.

4.      Cannot be used for decision-making.

1.      It is the end-product of data processing (processed data)

2.      Arranged into a meaningful format.

3.      More meaningful to the user.

4.      Can be used to make decisions.

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2. Data

posted Oct 30, 2014, 10:48 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Oct 30, 2014, 11:50 PM ]

Data

Data is a collection of raw facts, figures or instructions that do not have much meaning to the user.

­ Data may be in form of numbers, alphabets/letters or symbols, and can be processed to produce information.

TYPES OF DATA.

There are two types/forms of data:

a).        Digital (discrete) data:

  • Digital data is discrete in nature.  It must be represented in form of numbers, alphabets or symbols for it to be processed by a computer.
  • -   Digital data is obtained by counting. E.g. 1, 2, 3 … 

b).        Analogue (continuous) data:

  • Analogue data is continuous in nature.  It must be represented in physical nature in order to be processed by the computer.
  • ­ Analogue data is obtained by measurement.  E.g. Pressure, Temperature, Humidity, Lengths or currents, etc
  • ­ The output is in form of smooth graphs from which the data can be read.

Data Processing:

  • It is the process of collecting all items of data together & converting them into information.
  • Processing refers to the way the data is manipulated (or handled) to turn it into information.
  • The processing may involve calculation, comparison or any other logic to produce the required result.  The processing of the data usually results in some meaningful information being produced.

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6. A Computer Program

posted Oct 30, 2014, 10:39 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Oct 30, 2014, 11:53 PM ]

A Computer Program:

  • A computer Program is a set of related instructions written in the language of the computer & is used to make the computer perform a specific task (or, to direct the computer on what to do).
  • A set of related instructions which specify how the data is to be processed.
  • A set of instructions used to guide a computer through a process.

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1. Definition of a Computer

posted Oct 30, 2014, 10:22 AM by Maurice Nyamoti   [ updated Oct 30, 2014, 11:49 PM ]

Definition of a Computer:

  • A Computer is an electronic device that operates (works) under the control of programs stored in its own memory unit.
  •  A computer is an electronic machine that processes raw data to give information as output.
  •  An electronic device that accepts data as input, and transforms it under the influence of a set of special instructions called Programs, to produce the desired output (referred to as Information). 
  • A computer automatically accepts data & instructions as input from an Input device, stores them temporarily in its memory, then processes that data according to the instructions given, and finally transfers the processed data (Information) to an Output device.

Explanations;

  • A computer is described as an electronic device because; it is made up of electronic components and uses electric energy (such as electricity) to operate.
  • A computer has an internal memory, which stores data & instructions temporarily awaiting processing, and even holds the intermediate result (information) before it is communicated to the recipients through the Output devices.
  • It works on the data using the instructions issued, means that, the computer cannot do any useful job on its own.  It can only work as per the set of instructions issued. 
  • A computer will accept data in one form and produce it in another form.  The data is normally held within the computer as it is being processed.

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