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2. Introduction

  1. What is a computer?
  2. Types of computers
  3. Hardware and Software
  4. Basic Operations
  5. Data Sizes and Speeds

Estimated completion time: 100 minutes

What is in this module?

This module is intended to provide context. Sure, you know most – maybe even all – of this, but we face some problems in a course like this. Readers have a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Talking about modern computers is almost impossible without discussing the Internet, networking; the difference between hardware & software; and, what counts as a computer anyway?

The course focuses on the kinds of devices, software, and networks you are likely to use at home, in school, and in a typical office, with some attention to more personal devices. However, in your career, you are likely to use much bigger computing systems. Computers are computers, whatever their size or primary function. There is very good chance that all of you have used a server and a mainframe (at SRU) and cloud computing without even knowing it.

We have to start somewhere, so in this module we look at the big picture – an overview.

Should you care? Well, some day you may be the manager of the office network, in charge of purchasing new equipment, or installing software — picture an office full of people just like you, except that they didn't take this course.

Why this material is included?

student Provides a baseline understanding of computing systems.
professional Provides a baseline understanding of computing systems.
citizen of a digital society Provides a baseline understanding of computing systems.
You will deal with various (relative) measures of storage and speeds when purchasing, and even working with, computers.
course goals Introduction to hardware components of a PC
Introduction to software (system & application)
Binary system, units of measure for storage and speed
instructor goals Understand the computer as a processing system
Provide context and foundation for later modules.
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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Attribution: Dr. Paul Mullins, Slippery Rock University
These notes began life as the Wikiversity course Introduction to Computers.
The course draws extensively from and uses links to Wikipedia.
A large number of video links are provided to (I hope you like cats. And food demos.)