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- Computers are electronic machines which can accept data in a certain form, process the data and give the results of the processing in a specified format as information.
- Information in the form of data and programs is known as software, and the electronic and mechanical parts that make up a computer system are called hardware. A standard computer system consists of three main sections: the central processing unit (CPU), the main memory and the peripherals.
- Perhaps the most influential component is the central processing unit. Its function is to execute program instructions and coordinate the activities of all the other units. In a way, it is the brain of the computer. The unit consists of three main parts:
- The control unit, which examines the instructions of the user’s program,
- The arithmetic logic unit (ALU), which performs mathematical calculations (+,-, etc.) and logical operations (and, or, etc);
- The registers, which are high-speed units of memory used to store and control information.
- The main memory holds the instructions and data which are currently being processed by the CPU. The peripherals are the physical units attached to the computer. They include storage devices and input/output devices.
- Storage devices (floppy, hard or optical discs) provide a permanent storage of both data and programs. Disk drives are used to handle one or more floppy disks. Input devises enable data to go into the computer’s memory. The most common input devises are the mouse and the keyboard. Output devices enable us to extract the finished product from the system. For example, the computer shows the output on the monitor or prints the results onto paper by means of a printer.
- On the rear panel of the computer there are several ports into which we can plug a wide range of peripherals – modems, fax machines, optical drives and scanners.
- There are the main physical units of a computer system, generally known as the configuration.
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