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Basic functions of a computer



a) Input
is any data or instructions entered into a computer
There are 4 types of input
i) Data
is a raw or unorganized or unprocessed fact
prepared by
Jackson Alex

ii) Programs
is a series of instructions that tell the
computer how to perform tasks which are
necessary to process data into information.
iii) Commands
is an instruction given to a computer
iv) User responses
is an instruction you issue to the computer
by replying to question posed by a
computer program.

b) Storage
is the ability of a computer to hold data,
instructions and information for future use
Two types of computer storage
i) Main storage or primary storage or main
memory or Random Access Memory(RAM).
ii) Secondary Storage e.g. Hard disk

c) Processing
Manipulation of inputted data

d) Output
is a data that has been processed into a
useful form called information.
Forms of output
i) Text e.g. words, sentences, paragraphs
ii) Graphics e.g. drawing, charts, photographs
iii) Audio e.g. music, speech or any other sound
iv) Video e.g. played back images

Types(categories or groups) of output

i) Softcopy
ii) Hardcopy

i) Softcopy
is a material (data) shown on the display
screen(monitor) or data that is in audio or
voice form.
This kind of output is not tangible; It
cannot be touched.
ii) Hardcopy
Is printed copy (printout) on paper. e.g.
text and graphics from printers


Points to be discussed

Computer block diagram
Operation of a computer
Input devices
Central Processing Unit
Output devices

Computer hardware
Refers to all physical and tangible parts of the
computer i.e the parts that can be seen and
Examples of Computer Hardware:
System unit, motherboard, mouse,
scanner, printer, monitor, projector, Central
Processing Unit(CPU), keyboard, hard disk,
ups, CMOS battery, etc.

Computer Block Diagram



(Arithmetic Logic

(Control Unit)



How Computer works

A user enters data and instructions into a
computer by using input devices.
The processor then performs manipulation on
the data, while the main memory stores
information during processing.
The results then are sent to the output
equipment, which presents them to the user.
Secondary storage devices enable information
to be saved for future use.

Input Devices
Is any hardware component that allows user to enter data, programs,
commands and user responses into a computer.
Is a peripheral (peripheral device) which accept data from outside the
computer system and transmit(sends) it to the central processing
-is a device that is located outside the central processing unit(CPU) but
controlled by it . e.g mouse, keyboard, scanner, printer.
Is an attachment to a computer used mainly to feed unprocessed data
into the computer and receive the output of processed information.

Characteristics of Input devices

i)They form an interface between the external
environment and the computer.
An interface
-is a hardware(and sometimes a software) that
is used to connect two devices or system in
order to enable them to communicate e.g. A
ii) They are attached to the computer

Functions of input devices

i) To accept data from the user into
the computer system.
ii) To accept instructions from the
iii) To accept commands for running or
aborting or halting a program from
the user.

Examples of Input devices

- Keyboard , mouse, joystick, digital camera,
microphone, video digitizer, midi instruments,
video capture, optical mark reader(OMR),
scanner, bar code reader, magnetic reader, track
ball, touchpad

Joystick are usually used for playing games. It
is also a pointing device. It is also used in
Computer Aided Design(CAD)

Digital Camera
These are used to take photographs and
produce digital images.
Advanced models have memory card to
increase the cameras storage capacity.

They are used to digitize images of pages or

It is used for the input of sound which is then
digitized by the computer

Midi instruments
These are used to produce music. These are
normal musical instruments which have midi
port for input into midi interface in a
A computer is connected to a MIDI interface.
The MIDI interface is connected to a MIDI
instrument by the "in" and "out" ports.
MIDI---> Musical Instrument Digital Interface

A computer is connected to a MIDI

interface. The MIDI interface is connected
to a MIDI instrument by the "in" and "out"

Magnetic stripe reader

This input device reads a magnetic strip on a card.
Magnetic stripe have characteristic dark strip along
the back.
It provides quick identification of the cards owner.
They are used for security reasons.
The information can be saved on and read from the
magnetic strip.

Bar Code Reader

Is a device used for reading bar coded data(data in
form of light and dark lines)
They provide a quick method of recording the sale of
They are used in supermarkets, libraries &

Light Pen
Is a pointing device which is similar to a pen. It is
used to select a displayed menu item or draw
pictures on the monitor screen.

Track Ball
It is used in the same way as the mouse.
It is useful where the disk space is limited.
The ball is half inserted and by moving fingers on the
ball, pointer can be moved.
Since the whole device isnt moved, a track ball
requires less space than a mouse.

Optical Character Reader(OCR)

Is an input device used to read a printed text.
It scans text optically character by character,
converts them into a machine readable code and
stores the text on the system memory.
It is used as a form of data entry from printed
paper records e.g. passport documents, invoices,
bank statement, computerized receipts
It is a common method of digitizing printed text
so that it can be electronically edited, searched or
stored more compactly or displayed on-line.

Optical Character Recognition(OCR)

Optical Mark Reader(OMR)

Is a special type of optical scanner used to
recognize the type of mark made by pen or
It is used where one out few alternatives is to
be selected and marked.
It is specially used for checking the answer
sheets of examinations having multiple choice

Optical Mark Reader(OMR)

Graphics Tablet(Digitizer)
Is an input device which converts analog
information into digital form.
It can convert a signal from the television or
camera into a series of numbers that could be
in a computer.
It is used for doing fine works of drawing and
image manipulation application

Graphic Tablet

It is a device used to control the movement of
a pointer on the screen when it is moved.
i)Movement-controlling a screen pointer.
ii)Buttons-Selecting items / menus etc.
Basic parts:
Two buttons
i)A primary button(usually the left button)
ii) A secondary button(usually the right button)

Pointing to an item on the screen means moving
your mouse so that the pointer appears to be
touching the item.
When you point something a small box often
that describes the item.

Four basic ways of to use a mouse buttons

a) Clicking
b) Double clicking
c) Right clicking
d) Dragging

a) Clicking (single clicking)

It is most often used to select(mark) an item
or open a menu.
To click an item on the screen and then press
and release the primary button(usually the
left button)

Double Clicking
To double click an item, point to the item on
the screen and then click twice quickly. If the
two clicks are spaced too far apart they might
be interpreted as two individual clicks rather
than one double click.

Right clicking
Right clicking an items usually displays a list of
things you can do with the item.

You can move items around your screen by
dragging them.
To drag an item, point to the object on the
screen, press and hold the primary button,
move the object to a new location then release
the primary button.
Dragging (sometimes called dragging &
dropping) is most often used to move files and
folders to a different location and to move
windows and icons around on your screen.

Scroll Wheel
It helps to scroll through the documents and
To scroll the wheel down, roll the wheel
backward (towards you).
To scroll up roll the wheel forward (away from

Sensors are used to detect physical quantities
outside a computer such as light, temperature
and pressure.

Biometric Devices
These are special devices which are used to
capture the biometric data which is then
passed onto the computer for processing and

Remote Controls
A remote control is a hand-held device which
is used to control a machine from a short
distance away.
Remote controls need line-of-sight in order to
send their signals to receiving device,
obstacles such as furniture or walls can block

A webcam is short for web camera.
Is an input device because it captures a video
image of the scene in front of it.
It is either built in to the computer(e.g.
laptop) or it is connected through an USB

It is an input device which is usually found on
a laptop computer.

Touch screen
It is the only device which works as both an
input and an output device.
You view the options available to you on the
screen(output) and you then use your finger
to touch the option that you have

Central Processing Unit(CPU)

The CPU is the control center of the computer.
It has the following features:
CPU is considered as the brain of the
CPU performs all types of data processing
It controls the operations of all parts of the
It stores data(intermediate results and

o In the CPU is where all sorting, searching,

calculating and decision making takes place in
the computer.
o The CPU will issue instructions to other
devices depending on the results of the
processing. For example if the user wants to
print a document, the CPU will instruct the
printer to print the document.
o Other names of the CPU includes: brain of a
computer, central processor or processor or

The CPU has two main components:a) Control Unit (CU)

b) Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU)
a) Control Unit(CU)
The Control Unit tells part of the computer
system how to carry out programs instructions.
It ensures that the program instructions are
followed in the correct sequence.
The entire processing is monitored and controlled
by the Control Unit.

It is responsible for controlling the transfer of data

and instructions among other unit of a computer
It obtains the instructions from the memory,
interprets them, and directs the operation of the
For example whenever an input reaches into
memory, the control unit determines what type of
instruction is required and according, the Control
Unit instructs the ALU, or input/output device.
CU doesnt process or store data.

Arithmetic Logic Unit(ALU)

It carries out arithmetical, comparative
and logical processes(the processing).
It consists of two subsections namely:
a) Arithmetic Section
b) Logic Section

a) Arithmetic Section
The function of the arithmetic section is to
perform arithmetic operations such as
addition, subtraction, multiplication and
b) Logic section
The function of logic section is to perform
logic operations such as comparing,
selecting, matching and merging of data.

Output Devices
These are devices which display or output data which
has been processed or has been stored on the
These are devices that give result from a computer
The computer use these devices to give results of
processing done(information) in two categories:
a) Soft copy
b) Hard copy

Examples of output devices

Soft Copy output devices
Monitor (VDU--> Visual
Display Unit)
Television screen

Hard Copy output devices


Is the output devices used to display images and text.
Other names include Visual Display Unit(VDU)&Screen.
The picture on the monitor is made up of small number
of tiny dots called pixels.
The quality and details of the picture depends upon
the number of pixels that the monitor can display.
There are two kinds of viewing screen used for
i) Cathode-Ray Tube
ii)Flat-Panel Display

i) Cathode-Ray Tube(CRT)

Disadvantages of CRT
a) High power consumption
b) Large in size
ii) Flat-Panel Display
Current uses of Flat-Panel Display includes
calculators, video games, monitors, laptop
computer, Graphics Display.
They are divided into two categories
a) Emissive Displays
b) Non-Emissive Displays

a) Emissive Displays
- Are devices that convert electrical energy into
light. Example are plasma panel and
LED(Light-Emitting Diodes)
b) Non-Emissive Displays
- They use optical effects to convert sunlight or
light from other source into graphics patterns.
Example is LCD (Liquid-Crystal Display)

Pinter is an output device, which is used to print
information on paper.
There are two types of printer
i) Impact printers
ii) Non-Impact printers
i) Impact Printers
The impact printers print the characters by
striking them on the ribbon which is then
pressed on the paper.

Characteristics of Impact printers:

o Very low consumable costs.
o Very noisy.
o Useful for bulk printing due to low cost.
o There is a physical contact with the paper to
produce an image.
These printers are of two types
a) Character Printers
b) Line Printers

a) Character Printers
These are printers which print one
at a time.
They are divided into two types:
o Dot Matrix Printer(DMP)
o Daisy Wheel


Dot Matrix Printer

It is one of the most popular printers in the market
The head has a set of pins which are pushed out to form
the shape of each character
Each character printed is in form of pattern of dots which
come out to form a character that is why it is called Dot
Matrix Printer.

i) Inexpensive
ii) Widely used
iii) Other language characters can be printed
i) Slow Speed
ii) Poor Quality

Head is lying on wheel and pins corresponding
to characters are like Daisy (Flower name) that is
why it is called Daisy Wheel Printer
They are general used for word-processing in
offices which require a few letters to be sent
here and there with very nice quality.
More reliable than DMP
Better quality
The fonts of character can be easily changed

Slower than DMP
More expensive than DMP

Line Printers
Line printers are printers which print one line at time
These are of further two types
a) Drum Printer
b) Chain Printer

a) Drum Printer
This is like a drum in shape so it is called drum printer.
Drum printers are fast in speed and can print 300 to 2000
lines per minute.
The surface of the drum is divided into number of tracks.
Total tracks are equal to size of paper i.e. for a paper
width of 132 characters, drum will have 132 tracks.

Very High speed
Very expensive
Characters fonts cannot be changed

Chain Drum
In this printer a chain of character sets are used
so it is called Chain Printer.
Character fonts can easily be changed.
Different languages can be used with the
same printer.

Non-Impact Printers
Non-impact printers print the characters
without using ribbon.
These print a complete page at a time so they
are also called as page printers.
These printers are of two types
a) Laser Printers
b) Inkjet Printers

Characteristics of Non-impact Printers

Faster than impact printers.

They are not noisy.
High quality.
Support many fonts and different character size.

Laser Printers
These are non-impact page printers.
They use laser lights to produce the dots needed to
form the characters to be printed on a page.

Very high speed.
Very high quality output.
Give good graphics quality
Support many fonts and different character size.
Cannot be used to produce multiple copies of a
document in a single printing.

Inkjet Printers
They print characters by spraying small drops
of ink onto paper.
i) high quality printing
ii) more reliable
i) expensive as cost per page is high
ii) slow as compared to laser printer

Output device which produce sound from the

Light Emitting Diode(LED)

These are small power device which emit
Are used to indicate various events
Power is on
Hard disk is in operation
Monitor is working

Plotters are a specialist type of printer which is able to
draw high quality images on a very large pieces of
They are used by engineers, architects and map-makers
where precision is mandatory.
There are three different types of plotter.
i) Flatbed plotters
These hold the paper still while the pens
ii) Drum plotters
These roll the paper over the cylinder.
iii) Pinch-roller plotters
These are a mixture of the two types above.

It consist of small pair of speakers which are
worn over or in the ears.
They also produce sound from the computer.

Storage can be grouped into two categories
i) Primary storage
ii) Secondary storage

i) Primary storage
Also called main memory or Immediate Access
There are two types of this memory
RAM (Random Access Memory)
ROM (Read Only Memory)

Random Access Memory(RAM)

It is a volatile memory (temporary memory)
This means that any information that is held in
RAM will be lost if the power is turned off.
It is the internal memory of the CPU for
storing data, program and program results.
It is read/write memory.
It is used to hold data and programs that are
actively being processed.

Types of RAM
There are two types of RAM
i) Static RAM(SRAM)
ii) Dynamic RAM(DRAM)

Read Only Memory(ROM)

It is non-volatile memory
It is a memory from which we can only read but
cannot write on it.
Information is stored permanently.
It stores instructions that are required to start a
Types of ROM
i) Masked ROM(MROM)
ii) Programmable ROM(PROM)
iii) Erasable Programmable ROM(EPROM)
iv) Electrically Erasable Programmable

Differences between RAM & ROM

Random Access Memory
It is volatile memory
Its content are erased when
the power is off
Its contents can be read
and written.


Read Only Memory

It is non-volatile memory
It contents are retained
even when the power is off
Its content can only be

Memory Units(Units of Storage)

The amount of data that can be stored in the
storage unit.
The following are the main memory storage




Bit(Binary Digit)

Is a logical 0 and 1 representing the two states

of a memory component.
Is the smallest unit of storage in a computer.


A group of 4 bits is called nibble


A group of 8 bits is called byte


Is a group of fixed number of bits processed as

Word-size (or) Word length is the length of
computer word.
word length can be as small as 8 bits and as long
as 96 bits.





1KB = 1024 Bytes


1MB = 1024 KB


1GB = 1024 MB


1TB = 1024 GB


1PB = 1024 TB

Secondary Storage Devices

These are devices which are used to store
data/information permanently.
They are also known as external memory or backup
memory or auxiliary storage
Characteristics of secondary memory
i) These are magnetic and optic memories.
ii) It is non-volatile memory.
iii) Data is stored permanently even if the power is
switched off.
iv) It is used for the storage of data in a computer.
v) Computer my run without secondary memory.
vi) Slower than primary memory.

Magnetic Storage Devices

i) Hard Disk
ii) Floppy Disks

Optical Storage Devices

i) Compact Disc (CD)
ii) Digital Versatile Disc (DVD)
iii) Blu-ray Disc (BRD)

Flash storage Devices

i) Pen Drives
ii) Memory Stick Card (SD card)

Hard Disk
Also called Hard drive(HD) (or) Hard disk
It consists of one or more platters to which
data is written using a magnetic head.
It a non-volatile memory hardware device that
permanently stores and retrieves information.

prepared by
Jackson Alex