Computer Basics


Figure 1This article is the first installment to the "Introduction to Computers" series, intended for people with little to no computer knowledge. In this article you'll learn various computer terms and acquire a very basic knowledge of computer history, the varying types of computers, computer hardware and peripherals as well as computer operating systems and software.

Use the topics index to follow this series, and other similar series.

This installment includes the following material:
  1. Computer Basics Introduction
  2. History of Computers
  3. Types of Computers
  4. Computer Hardware
  5. Operating Systems
  6. Review

Introduction


Computers are everywhere. Every day we come in contact with and use dozens of computers, sometimes without even knowing it. When we stop by the ATM to withdraw cash, a computer performs the calculations, updates our account and mechanical parts controlled by the computer dispense the actual cash; they tell us how much our groceries cost; they provide us with real-time weather reports; driving directions, and in modern vehicles even notify emergency response teams if we're in an accident.

For decades, computers have been paving the way for an exciting, challenging, adventurous and at times even scary technological world. The world of technology and computer systems is continually evolving, and at this point has touched virtually every aspect of government, military, business, entertainment and even our own personal lives. In fact, the modern world is so reliant on computers that if global networks were to sustain wide-spread failure or attack, nearly everyone on the planet would be adversely affected almost immediately.

Some people may be opposed to such reliance on technology, and their reservations are indeed valid. Nevertheless, technology has arrived, it has evolved and will continue to evolve; whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay. For every downside to technology, there is however an upside, and the ethical and truly helpful applications of technology and computer systems is vast.

Manifold Applications


What's so great about computers? Why is everyone so hung up on them? Well, computers have revolutionized the way we learn and communicate; do business; manage our finances; protect people from natural disasters; the ways in which we're able to interact with friends and family; and they've given birth to the most advanced forms of entertainment the world has ever seen through a plethora of services, game consoles, video games and devices.

Through computers we're able to process and manage extraordinary amounts of data and information effectively and very efficiently. Tasks that used to take days, weeks or months are now at the click of a mouse. Via the World Wide Web (WWW), information that once took weeks to locate and acquire can now be located quickly through search engines and databases.

Computers can be used as storehouse of human knowledge, the knowledge we've gained over thousands of years. They're able to perform complex math problems, help us see and predict what the weather is doing and get warnings out to viewers, who because of computers are able to see video of what's happening around them. The practical applications of technology and computer systems is extensive and always growing.

Overcoming Obstacles


At first computers may seem foreign, unintuitive and intimidating but with a little reading and practice, you can quickly discover the bright and blooming world of computing and acquire some real computer knowledge and skills that can be used to ease the burden of your everyday life and help you advance in the work-place.

Computers can help you stay in touch with friends and family; share photos and videos; increase your effectiveness and efficiency performing various tasks; or even unwind in the evenings with a good game of chess, against the computer or a friend over the Internet!

So buckle in with a few refreshments and let's get started!