Introduction to Computer

A computer is an electronic device that manipulates information or data according to the set of instructions called programs. It has the ability to store, retrieve and process data. A computer is used to type documents, send e-mails and browse the Internet. It is also used for account handling, database management, preparing presentations, play games and so on. The term ‘computer’ is derived from the Latin word ‘computare’, which means ‘to calculate’. 

What is Computer?

A computer is an electronic machine that accepts data from the user, processes it by performing calculations and operations and generates the desired output as result. 

‘Charles Babbage is called the father of computer’.

Generally, computer is the combination of hardware and software, which converts data into information.

Some terms used in computer terminology are described below:

  • Data- Unprocessed raw facts and figures, like numbers, text on pieces of paper, are known as data.
  • Processing- It is the sequence of actions taken on data to convert it into information.
  • Information- When data is processed, organized, structured or presented in a given context so as to be useful, then it is called information.
  • Instruction- It is a command given to a computer in the computer language by the user.
  • Program- It is a set of instructions given to a computer in order to perform some task. 

History of Computer

Computers were preceded by many devices developed by mankind for their computing requirements. However, many centuries elapsed before technology was adequately advanced to develop computers. The key development that took place till the first computer was developed are as follows:

Generations of Computer

A generation refers to the state of improvement in the development of system.Each generation of computer is characterized by a major technological development that fundamentally changed the way computers operate. 

GenerationYearSwitching Device
First1940-56Vacuum tube
Third1964-71Integrated Circuits (ICs)
Fourth1971- PresentVery Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) Circuits or Microprocessors
Fifthpresent and BeyondSuper Large Scale Integrated (SLSI) Chips or Bio chips

Characteristics of Computer

Most of the world’s infrastructure runs on computers and they have profoundly changed our lives, for the better. Let us discuss some of the characteristics of a computer:

(i) Speed- The computer can process data very fast at the rate of millions of instructions per second.

(ii) Accuracy- Computer provides a high degree of accuracy. Computer responds to the user as per the input instructions.

(iii) Storage- Capacity Computers are capable to store huge amount of data, which depends on the capacity of hard disk.

(iv) Versatility- Computers can do different types of work simultaneously. They can perform multiple tasks at a same time.

(v) Plug and Play- Computers have the ability to automatically configure a new hardware and software component.

(vi) Diligence- Unlike Human beings, a computer is free from monotony, tiredness, lack of concentration, etc, and can work for hours without creating any errors.

(vii) Secrecy- Leakage of information is reduced by creating login system with password protection e.g. ATM counter, E-mail, etc.

(viii) Reliability- Computers are more reliable than human beings. Computers always produce exact results. The possibility of errors occurs only if the input is wrong, i.e, the computers never make mistakes of their own accord.

Applications of Computer

Now-a-days computers have been employed in almost all the aspects of professional and personal life. Some of the areas where computers are being used are given below:

(i) Education

Computers have proved to be excellent teachers. Educational institutes are using computers in many ways- for tele-education, virtual classroom, online classes, etc.

(ii) Scientific Research

Scientists have long been users of it. A new adventure among scientists is the idea of a collaboratory (an Internet based collaborative laboratory) in which researchers from all over the world can work together even when they are in far apart places.

(iii) Business Application

Computers play a vital role in business. To keep records of employees, sold product information and available resource is now easy.

(iv) Recreation and Entertainment

Our entertainment and pleasure time have also been affected by computerization.

(v) Government

Various departments of the government use computer for their planning, control and law enforcement activities.

(vi) Health

Computers play a very crucial role in this area. Activities like scanning, X-ray, tele-medicine, patient monitoring, patient records, diagnosis, etc. are performed with the help of computers.

(vii) Multimedia

Multimedia is the field concerned with the computer controlled integration of text, graphics, drawings, animation, audio and any other media, where each type of information can be represented, stored, transmitted and processed digitally.

(viii) Banks

Computers can be used in the banks to keep the records of customers’ accounts. Computers enhance customer services like checking account status, transferring money, etc.

Limitations of Computer

(i) No learning power Computers have no learning power. Every time you perform same task, you have to give full instruction to the computers what to do and how to do it. Computers do not remember previous work.

(ii) No Decision Making Computers do not have decision making power like human being. Computers can not take decision without being instructed.

(iii) No Self Intelligence With the help of computers, you can do almost all the work, but computers do not have intelligence of their own.

(iv) Interaction is Needed Every time computers need an interaction. Users interact to computers to perform a task. If there is no interaction, computers can not do anything.

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