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Computer Fundamentals

History of Computers
Computers have become an integral part of day-to-day life. Man has been inventing
devices to assist him in calculating and processing data. It began with manual mechanical
devices powered by hand. With the invention of electricity electromechanical devices
were developed which used electric power. Eg. Electric desk calculators. With the advent
of electronics, electronic devices were developed.
ABACUS (5000 BC)
It is frame with beads strung on rods or wires. Calculations are performed by
manipulating the positions of the beads.
Napiers Bones (1617)
Scottish Mathematician John Napier
Bones are a set of 11 rods with nos. marked on them in an order.
By placing the rods side in an order, products and quotients of large nos. can be obtained.
Slide Rule (1632)
English Scientist William Oughtred
Two movable rules placed side by side. The rules are placed in such a way that by sliding
the rules one can divide and multiply.
Adding Machine (1642)

French Mathematician Blaise Pascal

Analytical Engine (1833)

Charles Babbage
Never materialized due to the limited technology of the times
Lady Ada Augsta Byron assisted Babbage in his effort.
Corrected errors in his work. She was the first lady programmer.
1869----US ---Dr. Herman Hollerith introduced devices that combined
Later merged to form IBM.

Computer Organization






A digital computer consists of an interconnected system of processors, memories and I/O

Brain of the computer
Function is to execute the programs stored in the main memory
By fetching the instructions
Examining them
And then executing them on after another
The CPU is made of distinct parts
Control unit is responsible for fetching instructions from main memory &
determining their type.
ALU performs operations such as addition, Boolean AND, needed to carry out the
Small high-speed memory used to store temporary results and certain control
The storage is a magnetic area where data can be stored. There is movement of
data within the CPU. To handle this process it is necessary to hold information on
temporary basis at various stages. To do this computer uses special memory units
called registers.

Basic Structure of the computer

Mem. Unit

Control Unit



Is that part of the computer where programs and data are stored.
Bit: The unit of memory is a binary digit - Bit(0/1)
Memory addresses: Memories consist of no. of cells locations, each of which
can store a piece of information. Each cell has a number called address, n cells ,
n-1 addresses. All cells in a memory contain the same number of bits. If a cell
consists of k bits it can hold one of 2k diff. Bit combinations.

----- 1 bit
8 bits
----- 1 Byte
1024 Bytes
-----1 Kilo Byte
10,00,000 Bytes ---- 1MB
Types of Memories :
1)Random Access Memory (RAM)
Information can be read from a RAM chip and also written onto it. When
switched off any information stored in the memory is lost. RAM acts as a
temporary storage and holds data which are to be processed by the
microprocessor. It is volatile in nature.

2) Read Only Memory (ROM)

Information is stored onto a ROM chip at the time of manufacturing. Information
cannot be altered and fresh information cannot be written. When power is
switched off contents of ROM are not lost. (Non volatile).
Use ------ System configuration information.
------ Diagnostic testing
------ Initializing routine
3)Programable Read Only Memory (PROM)
Can be programmed to record information using a device known as programmer.
But once the chip has been programmed recorded information cannot be changed.
4)Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory (EPROM)
Information can be erased and the chip can be programmed again. Erasure can be
done by exposing the chip to ultraviolet light. Information remains on the chip till
it is erased.

Secondary memories hold data larger than main memory can hold. The various
secondary storage devices are as follows.
1)Magnetic tapes :
First kind of secondary memory. Computer tape drive is similar to cassette tape
recorder. 2400 ft long tape is wound from feed reel past a recording head to the
take-up reel. By varying the current in the recording head the computer can write
information on the tape in form of magnetized spots.It is a sequential access
device. To read the nth record it is necessary to read n-1 records.
2)Magnetic Disks :
Is a piece of metal with magnetized coating on both sides. Diameter is 5-10
inches. Information is recorded on concentric circles called tracks. Tracks are
divided into sectors, 10-100 sectors / track & 512 bytes / sector.There are 40 to
few hundred tracks per surface. A movable head moves to & fro from the center.
The head is wide enough to read or write information from exactly one track. A
disk drive often has several disks stacked vertically about an inch apart on the
spindle. The arm has one head next to each surface all of which move in and out
together. The whole is a sealed unit to avoid contamination from dust.
3)Floppy Disks :
Made up of magnetic oxide coated mylar material. The material of the floppy is
thin and and flexible hence it is called as a floppy. It is packed into square plastic
envelop with a long slot for read-write head access. When the disk is inserted in a
floppy disk drive unit, a spindle clamps in the large center hole and spins the disk
at a constant speed. Data is stored on concentric tracks. Read / Write head
contacts the disk through the slot to read from or write to the disk. Head moves to

and fro. The write protect notch can be used to protect stored data. When the
notch is covered with a tab one cannot write data onto the disk. Index hole
punched in the disk indicates the beginning of the recorded tracks.
4) Optical disks :
Have higher recording densities. Originally developed for recording TV
programs.These disks are based on the same technology used in compact disk
audio players and are called CD-ROMs. They are prepared by using high power
laser to burn 1 micron holes in a master disk. From this disk a mold is made to
stamp out copies on plastic disks. The disk is made of polycarbonate wafer,
120mm in diameter and 1.2mm thick, with a 15mm hole in the center.This wafer
base is coated with a metallic film usually an aluminum alloy. The aluminum film
is the portion of the disc that the CD-ROM drive reads for information. The
aluminum film is then coated by plastic polycarbonate coating that protects the
underlying data. This device degrades as its optical surface becomes dirty or

I/O Devices
1) Monitor
Is a box consisting of CRT and its power supplies. CRT contains a gun that can
shoot an electron beam against a photophosphorescent screen near the front of the
tube. The beam sweeps across the screen in about 50 sec, tracing out an almost
horizontal line on the screen. It executes a horizontal retrace to get back to the left
hand edge in order to begin the next sweep. A device that produces an image line
by line is called raster scan. A full screen image is normally repainted between 30
and 60 times a second. To produce a pattern of dots on the screen a grid is present
inside the CRT. When positive voltage is applied to the grid, the electrons are
accelerated causing the beam to hit the screen and make it glow. When negetive
voltage is applied the electrons are repelled, so they do not pass through the grid
& the screen does not glow.
I] Impact printers
a) Daisy wheel printers
Is like a type writer. A piece of metal or plastic with a raised letter strikes an
inked ribbon against the sheet of paper. Similar technique is used in daisy wheel
printers. Consists of spoked wheel like a daisy, with characters on the petals. To
print a character the printer rotates the proper character in front of the
electromagnet. It energizes the magnet, pressing the letter against the ribbon.
Speed --- 20-40 characters/sec.
b)Dot matrix printer

The heart of the printer is a printer head which consists between 7 & 24
electromagnetically activable needles which is scanned across each print line.
Each letter can be viewed as a matrix of dots. Therefore each print line consists of
7 horizontal lines each consisting of 5x80 = 400 dots. Each dot can be printed or
not printed depending on the characters to be printed.
The print quality can be increased by two techniques.
1) Using more needles so that dots overlap
2) Multiple passes over each scan line
II] Non-Impact Printers
1)Laser printers
Combines - high quality image
- excellent flexibility
- good speed
- moderate cost
Use the same technology as Xerox machines.
The heart of the printer is a rotating precision drum. At the beginning of each page
cycle it is charged upto 1000 volts and coated with a photosensitive material.
The light from the laser is scanned along the length of the drum. A rotating
octagonal mirror is used to scan the length of the drum. The light beam is
modulated to produce a pattern of light and dark spots. The spots where the beam
hits lose their electrical charge. After a line of dots has been painted, the drum
rotates a fraction of a degree to allow the next line to be painted. In the mean time
the first line of dots reaches the toner----reservoir of an electrostatically sensitive
black powder. Toner is attracted towards the charged dots forming a visual image
of that line. The toner coated drum is pressed against the paper transferring
black powder to the paper. The paper is then passed through heated rollers to bind
the toner to the paper, permanently fixing the image. The drum is then discharged
and scraped clean of any residual toner.
2)Deskjet printers
They combine dotmatrix and laser technology to print. The ink in the cartridge is
electrostatically charged. The primary difference between the deskjet & laser is
the way in which the image is applied to the page. They use tiny nozzles to spray
liquid ink directly onto the paper in the same dot patterns used by laser printer.
The no. of nozzles is dependent on the printers resolution. From 21 to 128 nozzles
per colour. Color printers use four reservoirs with different color inks cyan,
magenta, yellow and black. By mixing the four inks the printer can produce
virtually any color.

A mouse is a small piece of plastic box that sits on the table next to the terminal.
When it is moved around on the table, a pointer on the screen moves, allowing
users to point at screen items. There is a ball at the bottom of the the mouse that

protrudes slightly. When the ball rolls it drives variable resistors

(potentiometer).By measuring changes in the resistance it is possible to see how
much the ball has rotated and calculate how far the mouse has moved in each
Operating Systems :
Operating system is set of programs that act like an interface between the
hardware and the end user. A PC system has a distinct hierarchy of software that
controls the system at all times. Even when you are working in an application
such as word/excel there are several other programming layers always executing
underneath the application. These SW layers provide access to the hardware, such
as storage media, memory, and the system processor.
DOS : The Disk Operating System is the original and most basic of PC operating
system. By itself it is unable to support the full capabilities of much of todays
hardware. The underlying concepts of DOS form the basis of the advanced
operating systems like WIN 95/98. Some of the DOS features are as follows
Requires very less memory to RUN
Has a command line Interface
Uses batch processing
Not user friendly
16-bit operating system (external data bus is 16- bit wide)
data bus : bundle of wires used to send and receive data. Width of the bus
specifies the no. of bits that can be moved in and out of the processor in one
Has a Graphical user Interface
32-bit operating system
Very user friendly
Due to GUI Memory requirements are large
Uses Multiprograming