computers? Do you wonder what they do and why you would want to use one?
Welcome—you’re in the right place. This article gives an overview of computers:
What they are, the different types, and what you can do with them. Should you need information about computer safety tips, click here
machines that perform tasks or calculations according to a set of instructions,
or programs. The first fully electronic computers, introduced in the 1940s,
were huge machines that required teams of people to operate. Compared to those
early machines, today’s computers are amazing. Not only are they thousands of
times faster, they can fit on your desk, on your lap, or even in your pocket.
through an interaction of hardware and software. Hardware refers to the parts
of a computer that you can see and touch, including the case and everything
inside it. The most important piece of hardware is a tiny rectangular chip
inside your computer called the central processing unit (CPU), or microprocessor.
It’s the “brain” of your computer—the part that translates
instructions and performs calculations. Hardware items such as your monitor,
keyboard, mouse, printer, and other components are often called hardware
devices, or devices.
to the instructions, or programs, that tell the hardware what to do. A
word-processing program that you can use to write letters on your computer is a
type of software. The operating system (OS) is
software that manages your computer and the devices connected to it. Windows is
a well-known operating system.
Types of computers
size and capability. At one end of the scale are supercomputers,
very large computers with thousands of linked microprocessors that perform
extremely complex calculations. At the other end are tiny computers embedded in
cars, TVs, stereo systems, calculators, and appliances. These computers are
built to perform a limited number of tasks.
designed to be used by one person at a time. This section describes the various
kinds of personal computers: desktops, laptops, handheld computers, and Tablet
computers are designed
for use at a desk or table. They are typically larger and more powerful than
other types of personal computers. Desktop computers are made up of separate
components. The main component, called the system unit,
is usually a rectangular case that sits on or underneath a desk. Other
components, such as the monitor, mouse, and keyboard, connect to the system
Laptop computers and small
lightweight mobile PCs with a thin screen. Laptops can operate on batteries, so
you can take them anywhere. Unlike desktops, laptops combine the CPU, screen,
and keyboard in a single case. The screen folds down onto the keyboard when not
notebook PCs (often
referred to asmini-notebooks), are small, affordable
laptops that are designed to perform a limited number of tasks. They’re usually
less powerful than a laptop, so they’re used mainly to browse the web and check
same capabilites as a computer. You can use a smartphone to make telephone
calls, access the Internet, organize contact information, send e‑mail and text
messages, play games, and take pictures. Smartphones usually have a keyboard
and a large screen.
computers, also called
personal digital assistants (PDAs), are
battery-powered computers small enough to carry almost anywhere. Although not
as powerful as desktops or laptops, handheld computers are useful for
scheduling appointments, storing addresses and phone numbers, and playing
games. Some have more advanced capabilities, such as making telephone calls or
accessing the Internet. Instead of keyboards, handheld computers have touch
screens that you use with your finger or a stylus (a
pen-shaped pointing tool).
PCs are mobile PCs
that combine features of laptops and handheld computers. Like laptops, they’re
powerful and have a built-in screen. Like handheld computers, they allow you to
write notes or draw pictures on the screen, usually with a tablet pen instead
of a stylus. They can also convert your handwriting into typed text. Some
Tablet PCs are “convertibles” with a screen that swivels and unfolds to reveal
a keyboard underneath.
people use computers to keep records, analyze data, do research, and manage
projects. At home, you can use computers to find information, store pictures
and music, track finances, play games, and communicate with others—and those
are just a few of the possibilities.
computer to connect to the Internet, a network that
links computers around the world. Internet access is available for a monthly
fee in most urban areas, and increasingly, in less populated areas. With
Internet access, you can communicate with people all over the world and find a
vast amount of information.
most popular things to do with computers:
or web) is a gigantic storehouse of information.
web is the most popular part of the Internet, partly because it displays most
information in a visually appealing format. Headlines, text, and pictures can
be combined on a single webpage—much like a page in
a magazine—along with sounds and animation. A website
is a collection of interconnected webpages. The web contains millions of
websites and billions of webpages.
information on the web about almost any topic imaginable. For example, you can
read news stories and movie reviews, check airline schedules, see street maps,
get the weather forecast for your city, or research a health condition. Most
companies, agencies, museums, and libraries have websites with information
about their products, services, or collections. Reference sources, such as
dictionaries and encyclopedias, are also widely available.
shopper’s delight. You can browse and purchase products—books, music, toys,
clothing, electronics, and much more—at the websites of major retailers. You
can also buy and sell used items through websites that use auction-style
mail) is a convenient way to communicate with others. When you send an e‑mail
message, it arrives almost instantly in the recipient’s e‑mail inbox. You can
send e‑mail to many people simultaneously, and you can save, print, and forward
e‑mail to others. You can send almost any type of file in an e‑mail message, including documents,
pictures, and music files. And with e‑mail, you don’t need a postage stamp!
like having a real-time conversation with another person or a group of people.
When you type and send an instant message, the message is immediately visible
to all participants. Unlike e‑mail, all participants have to be online
(connected to the Internet) and in front of their computers at the same time.
Communicating by means of instant messaging is called chatting.
camera, you can move your pictures from the camera to your computer. Then you
can print them, create slide shows, or share them with others by e‑mail or by
posting them on a website. You can also listen to music on your computer,
either by importing music from audio CDs or by purchasing
songs from a music website. Or, you can tune in to one of the thousands of
radio stations that broadcast over the Internet. If your computer comes with a
DVD player, you can watch movies too.
games? Thousands of computer games in every conceivable category are available
to entertain you. Get behind the wheel of a car, battle frightening creatures
in a dungeon, or control civilizations and empires! Many games allow you to
compete with other players around the world through the Internet. Windows includes a variety of card games, puzzle
games, and strategy games. For more information, see Learn about Windows games.