UNIT 3 - INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS

UNIT 3 - INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS

  • A. INTRODUCTION
  • B. COMPUTER DATA
  • C. COMPUTER HARDWARE
  • D. DATA STORAGE
  • E. SOFTWARE
  • F. EDITORS AND WORD PROCESSORS
  • G. DATABASES
  • H. SPREADSHEETS
  • I. STATISTICAL PACKAGES
  • REFERENCES
  • EXAM AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • NOTES

    This unit provides a brief introduction to computer hardware and software. We have included this unit to help those who are teaching students with no computer background. However, any introductory course in the use of micro-computers is likely to have covered this material already. Binary notation is introduced here. A knowledge of the binary numbering system and conversion to decimal is needed only for Units 35, 36 and 37 but it is useful for students to be aware of this fundamental topic.

    UNIT 3 - INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS

    A. INTRODUCTION

    B. COMPUTER DATA

    Binary notation

    Bits and bytes

    ASCII coding system

    C. COMPUTER HARDWARE

    Central processing unit (CPU)

    Memory

    Peripherals

    D. DATA STORAGE

    Storage media

    Fixed disks

    Dismountable devices

    Volumes

    Files

    E. SOFTWARE

    Programs

    Operating systems

    Compilers and languages

    Applications programs

    F. EDITORS AND WORD PROCESSORS

    G. DATABASES

    Functions of a database

    Three types of database

    H. SPREADSHEETS

    I. STATISTICAL PACKAGES

    REFERENCES

    Maguire, D.J., 1989. Computers in Geography, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York.

    Current reviews and comparisons of different hardware and software are published frequently, particularly for the DOS environment in magazines such as Byte and PC Magazine.

    Numerous texts are available at various levels of sophistication for operating systems, editors, compilers and common applications programs.

    EXAM AND DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

    1. Compare the data storage needs of (a) the data which will be transmitted by the EOS satellites of the 1990s, which will generate approximately 1 Terabyte/day, (b) the US Bureau of the Census's TIGER files of street networks, which amount to about 10 Gigabytes and are updated every 10 years, and (c) a database of 100 Megabytes created for use in a one-time environmental impact study

    2. "User expectations about data volumes rise at least as rapidly as the capacity of available storage devices". Discuss.

    3. Why do you think the computer industry has been unable to agree on a common operating system? or single source language?

    4. Describe the functional differences between databases, spreadsheets and statistical packages. Which would be more useful for (a) research in a university department, (b) administrative record-keeping in a small business, (c) personal budget planning?


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