Introduction to Computer Information Systems/Print version

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Introduction to Computer Information Systems

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Computers in Your Life

Why Learn About Computers?[edit | edit source]

Today's world runs on computers. Nearly every aspect of modern life involves computers in some form or fashion. As technology is advancing, the scale of computer use is increasing. Computer users include both corporate companies and individuals. Computers are efficient and reliable; they ease people's onerous jobs through software and applications specific to their needs offering convenience. Moreover, computers allow users to generate correct information quickly, hold the information so it is available at any time. Computers and technology affect how we live, work and entertain ourselves. From voice-powered personal assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana to more underlying and fundamental technologies such as behavioral algorithms, suggestive searches and autonomously-powered self-driving vehicles boasting powerful predictive capabilities.

Computers offer a quicker way to gain information which is by providing an internet access. Up to this moment, many internet browsers and applications have been invented. For instance, Google Chrome is one of the largest web based applications used by everyone in the world for reliable sources of information.

Computer skills are required to be hired in companies these days. Imagine if two candidates are interviewed, one of them knows nothing about computers while the other does. The employer will definitely hire the latter. Furthermore, with computer skills, one can build his own company and expand his business. He could perhaps work online and export his goods or service.

Learning computer skills is now essential

Not only have computers become more integrated in our lives. They are increasingly becoming more essential in any aspect of life. As computers become more essential, the skill to operate them also becomes more essential. They are no longer just an advantage but rather a requirement in today’s computer-oriented society. Those who have not had the opportunity to learn computer skills when computers were not as widespread have started to, or are forced to learn to use them as computer skills have become a necessity in order to be a productive and contributing person in not only the workplace but also in society.

Proof of the ever increasing integration in our lives comes from the fact that almost anything can be done with the use of computers. You can now order food, even groceries, through the computer, you can now watch almost anything on your computer, you can now work from home or you can play games to procrastinate at work through the help of computers, you can even conduct interviews through your computer, there are so many things that a computer is capable of that learning the skills to fully reach the potential of computers is a priority.[1]

Computers at Home[edit | edit source]

Home Computer Benefits

A computer is a good product to have at home. There are so many benefits to owning your own computer. It allows you to be able to write letters, articles, stories, reports and other things easier and faster. If you own a printer, you can easily write a letter to a friend or family member, print it out and send it to them. You can save your written documents on your home computer and have easy access to them when you need them again.

Having a computer at home allows you to have access to work from home jobs such as research, data entry, writing and other work-from-home jobs. With a computer at home, you can easily communicate with friends and family through email, social networks and instant messaging. Using a computer to communicate is cheaper than calling friends and family long distance. You can also communicate with co-workers, your boss and anyone else you meet on the Internet through your own computer.

People usually go to the library for their research. If you have your own computer at home, you don't have to travel to the library when you need to research something. Log on to the Internet and research whatever you need with your computer at home. When you need to know something fast you can look it up on Google or your favorite search engine. Having a computer at home gives you access to learning all kinds of things through research. This will save you on gas charges instead of having to drive to the library.

Having a computer at home means your own personal entertainment source. There are literally thousands of games on the Internet which you can play anytime you want to. You can also watch movies and your favorite TV shows on DVDs. You can also join social networks and interact with your friends on a daily basis.

With a computer at home and the Internet, students can now get a college degree from home. There are a lot of different schools that allow students to take college classes online. Using a computer and the Internet can get you a degree at your own pace and faster than going to a college campus.

While almost every household has at least one personal computer within it, desktop and laptop computers are no longer the only computers found in the home. Many homes have numerous computers embedded throughout. Thermostats, appliances, entertainment systems and home security systems are just a few examples of things in a home that can be controlled by an internal computer. These smart homes are capable of so much. All of the devices work on a network and often communicate wirelessly. Home security systems can be monitored from an offsite location. Lights can be turned on and off remotely. Simple tasks, like watering the lawn or running the dishwasher, can be programmed to occur at the homeowners’ convenience, or specifically timed to conserve energy. Some thermostats can even learn and adapt to homeowner preferences.

Smart homes are becoming more and more common. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate and smart homes are expected to become the norm in the very near future. The smart devices and appliances can be controlled from personal computers, or other network devices like smart phones. Some people believe that these homes will eventually be smart enough to recognize the inhabitants and adapt to the needs,[2] giving the phrase computers in the home a whole new meaning.

Computers in Education[edit | edit source]

FPL's Computer lab
Children working on computers in a classroom

At most colleges and universities, their students are familiar with blackboard,[3] a course management system that is used quite frequently in order to stay in touch with teachers, figure out homework assignments, and keep track of grades. While not all classes utilize this technology, it can be very helpful especially for online courses. With technology growing and advancing so far forward we now have the ability to learn and take classes from the comfort of our own home.

While many students still go on campus, there is no shortage of computers. Most colleges have at least one mega lab with nearly a hundred computers. But if you wish to bring your own laptop there are plenty of wireless hot spots where you could get a connection to the internet from anywhere on campus. Understandably lugging textbooks around campus may seem exhausting and tiring, you now have the option to get an electronic e-Book of most textbooks needed for class.

Most people are knowledgeable on the fact that computers are widely-used in colleges and at universities, but let's take a step back and take a look at the ways in which computers are used in elementary schools. The biggest benefit of a computer being used in a classroom is that it can provide many different study tools depending on the class. They can provide electronic flashcards, math games, and even things as simple as crossword puzzles. Although a computer cannot replace a teacher, it can help expand a students independent thinking skills by allowing activities to be taken as many times as needed. Most of the activities found in classrooms are very interactive which helps keep the student interested. Also, we must not forget that because modern day children are drawn towards electronics, they are more compelled to engage in study activities on a computer rather than a sheet of paper.

Working on a computer at an early age helps build fundamental skills needed later on in life. At a young age a child can learn how to fully operate the basic external hardware of a computer like the screen, keyboard, or mouse. With enough exposure to computers and their components, a student can become more efficient for the following years of school and even their future career.[4]

Computers on the Job[edit | edit source]

If you have seen any older movie (or SpongeBob) you have probably seen people getting to work grabbing their time card and getting it stamped to show what time they have arrived at work. This is called an authentication system or timesheet.[5] While now the authentication system is more digital than before, the concept still applies. This isn't the only use of computers on the job or at work in general. For instance say there is a presentation you must give to the board of directors, you might want to make a PowerPoint[6] to give visuals to help drive home your point. Or perhaps you work retail and the pair of pants a customer wants is out of stock, you could easily order it online for them, and minimize the headache of shopping for those who hardly shop. Whatever the case, computers can help.

Spectrum of Computers[edit | edit source]

Every industry has computers. These machines have been incorporated into the fabric of every workforce. Computers have even created many fields which did not exist prior to their existence.[7] Computers manifest themselves in different ways to perform unique tasks. One size does not fit all in the realm of computers, rather each has a purpose or assigned task. The computers that fulfill similar tasks can be classed together. The categories range from small scale to industrial. An embedded computer is something that allows somewhere like an office to have appliances that range from routers to printers. Then there are mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, and smart watches that are, for example, able to keep a New York stock broker up-to-date on the latest stocks, or instantly keep in touch with investors. These devices have compressed, basic operating systems −although they are getting more advanced by the day. Personal computers are one order of magnitude up from mobile devices. Personal computers have the full and universal capabilities in order to have the capacity to access work from outside the workplace, as well as handle the software that might be used on the job. Midrange computers or midrange servers are yet another order of magnitude up on the spectrum. These machines are between 20 and 50 times larger than a traditional desktop computer, though their previous name was a "minicomputer" and has business and scientific applications. These computers are often referred to as servers due to the majority of them being used as such.[8] Next are Mainframe computers, which are primarily used by large corporations and governments to store and process massive amounts of information. This leads to the final class which is Supercomputers. As the name would suggest, this type of computer is quite powerful. It calculates enormous amounts of information with countless variables to get information. These are responsible for tasks such as weather prediction, security, simulating the moment the universe came into existence, as well as helping to create the next tier of computer - which is not yet fully operational - the quantum computer.

Electronic Flight Bags[edit | edit source]

An Electronic Flight Bag app being used in a general aviation aircraft

Computers have been ubiquitous in most work places since the mid 1990’s. A notable exception, until recently, is the commercial airliner flight deck. In the last 5 years, electronic flight bags (EFB’s) have become more and more commonplace. Before the FAA approved EFB’s, pilots would have to carry paper charts, approach plates, and aircraft manuals and checklists for each flight. This paper system was cumbersome, heavy, and took up the space of an extra suitcase. Now, tablets are taking the place of this system. In 2012, United Airlines provided their pilots with mounting hardware, and iPads for use in the cockpit.[9] Southwest and American Airlines followed suit.[10] Now, most major airlines use EFB’s for their operations. This allows for more complex flight planning, greater precision and efficiency, and better organization. Airlines also save weight, as pilots no longer have to bring 45 pounds of paper with them on their flights. The use of a tablet brings the weight down to 1.5 pounds. Not only does this make the pilots life easier, but it also helps the airline save on jet fuel.[11] Future aircraft designs have tablet mounting and charging stations built into the flight deck, to make the integration of the system even more seamless.

Portable Computers[edit | edit source]

Phablet (Samsung Galaxy Note II - 2012)

Phablets, a portmanteau of "Phone" and "Tablet", were first pioneered in 2007 by HTC. The concept was an original hybridization, borrowing the large, touchscreen display from a tablet computer and the functionality and size from a mobile cellular phone. The idea was eventually adopted by other large manufacturers including LG (GW990) and Nokia (N810), and underwent several different phases. The early generations had, in addition to a touchscreen, physical keyboards whereas the later ones do not. The Verizon Streak, produced and carried by the network, was released in 2009. Unlike most others at the time, it was restricted to phone and internet use within the household only. The current style of phablets was not popularized until 2011, after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note, (Android) which featured a 5.3" inch display and a removable stylus.[12]


Portable computers are compact and fully functioning versions of a regular desktop computer that are designed to be mobile. While they rely on rechargeable batteries or an electrical outlet for power, they allow a person the freedom to move around while still being productive. Their mobility alongside their ability to operate similar to a desktop make them powerful tools for businessmen, students, and common individuals alike. Whether giving or preparing a project or presentation, taking notes or studying online, or simply connecting to the internet from a cafe, portable computers have become essential for individuals who wish to work, study, or play on the go. Portable computers come in three basic versions which include the laptop, tablet, and netbook.


Laptops are thin computers that contain a keyboard and monitor folded on top of each other so that the top half is the visual display and the bottom half is the input. Laptops are commonly called "notebooks" do to this folding feature and their thin appearance. Recently, touch screens have been introduced into some laptops allowing some operating systems like Windows 8 to open applications with the touch of a finger. While laptops are comparable to desktops in their use, their smaller size results in some small amounts of the computing power and functionality being lost. However, their compact size allows them to be stored when not in use and the familiar "nest" of wires associated with linking up a desktop is reduced to a single power cord. Laptops are also better at "creating" fully functional content when compared to a Tablet or Mobile Device (such as a cell phone). If you require the ability to write reports or long e-mails, to use a spreadsheet in order to crunch numbers, to create a "PowerPoint" presentation, to rearrange music libraries or photo albums, or to edit pictures then you will need a desktop, laptop or a netbook. Tablets and Mobile Devices are more designed to consume content than to create.[13]

Tablets are smaller than laptop PCs, very lightweight, and extremely easy to carry, but they lack the processing power of a laptop as well as a keyboard input. They rely, instead, on a stylus and touch screen. For those who are hardcore gamers, giving business presentations, or conducting heavy research a tablet doesn't offer the speed and efficiency that is needed to complete these tasks. However, if a person is more of a casual internet surfer or "lightweight" game player then a tablet can handle what computing is needed to do this. They can browse the web relatively easy and stream movies or Youtube videos too. It should also be noted that tablets have become handy for other lightweight tasks involved with simple music/DJ production like FX and mixing as well as live sequencing. Some artists and designers are now using their tablets for preliminary sketches that they transfer into design software and programs on a full powered laptop later on as well.[14]

Netbooks are similar to laptops but differ in size as well as processing. While netbooks are smaller versions of laptops, they have been designed, to the best of their ability, to have the same functionality as laptops and PCs. A netbook's computer display will rarely reach above 10" or 12", and are more commonly smaller than this, whereas some laptops can contain up to 15.5" of display screen. Netbooks have been around since 2008, roughly, and have revolved around their ability to connect to mobile networks such as the wifi at your local cafe or restaurant. Because of this feature, it has changed the laptop industry and has been heralded as a revolutionary and pivotal focal point in the production of laptops and netbooks. Since then this capability has now become a standard among both. Even though they don't maintain some of the functionality and computing power as their desktop and laptop counterparts, they are still capable of word processing, mathematical computation, and other productivity programs that businessmen and students use. On top of that, they are also extremely durable and affordable which make them perfect for educational tools. Students will find them easy to manage, organize, and carry around as well as a "distraction free" resource because of their minimalistic capabilities. Couple these advantages with internet access to mobile hotspots such as school libraries and it can be easily seen why this device had dominated the market for so long. It has only been a recent trend for individuals to pick up the tablet despite it's rudimentary processing power and it has been speculated that this is due to the tablet's sleek design and effective marketing strategy toward the younger generation.[15]

Smartphones are mobile personal computers that use advanced mobile operating systems that allow mobile, handheld usage. A smartphone is much smaller than a tablet making it easy to fit one in a pocket. Not only can a smartphone make voice calls it can also send and receive text messages. Smartphones have digital personal assistants, event calendars, media players, video games, GPS navigation, and the ability to take digital photos and videos. A smartphone can also access the internet by either connecting to Wi-Fi or using cellular data. The user may also download many helpful apps to a smartphone.[16]

References[edit | edit source]

What is a Computer?

Data vs. Information[edit | edit source]

Information Relationship Model
Represented Data

Data is calculated and processed on a daily basis through computers in business, at home, and in education. Data is essentially the raw facts that are usually typed into a computer. We call these "raw" facts due to them being unorganized. They can come in any form from audio and visual, to text and numerical. When the data is entered into the computer, it is considered input. The computer calculates the data and spits out the information. Since this information is the output, it becomes the organized version of what used to be raw facts. This system is considered information processing. Data can also come in other forms including figures, experiments, and surveys. Most everything that is entered into a computer becomes data, which is why this term is so vital to understanding computers and how they operate.[1] Information is produced by the data; it is form of knowledge, and computers calculate detailed information.[2]

When most people think of information, the first source that comes to mind is Google. Google allows you to access a lot of information in a short amount of time. What most do not know is that is exactly what a computer does behind the scenes every time you are entering data into a computer, most of the time without even considering it to be "data." Information is a way to get answers to questions, because they are the output of the data you have put in to process. Many online sources provide endless amounts of information. Without information, people will not have reliable sources for school and their career. Work can be made much easier with information, including jobs which need to calculate employee's total hours worked, or any "total data" that needs to be found or calculated. Data and information are very valuable, and is most certainly the backbone of a computer. These two components may help your computer to be user-friendly by working behind what you are typing to make data useful and organized.[3]

Computer from the 1980s

Computers Then and Now[edit | edit source]

The Industrial Age: First general mechanical computer was proposed and partially built by the English inventor Charles Babbage in 1837. It was an Analytical Engine which contained an Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) and permitted basic programmatic flow control. It was programmed using punch cards, and also featured integrated memory. Historians consider it to be the first design concept of a general-purpose computer. Unfortunately, because of funding issues the Analytical Engine was never built while Babbage was alive. It wasn't until 1910 that Henry Babbage, Charles Babbage's youngest son, was able to complete a portion of this machine which was able to perform basic calculations. The Analytical Engine was to be a general-purpose, fully program-controlled, automatic mechanical digital computer. It was designed to consist of four components: the mill, the store, the reader, and the printer- which are all essential components of every computer today.[4]

The Information Age (beginning in 1950 until current): Also known as the Computer Age, Digital Age, or New Media Age. Digital computing was invented by Claude Shannon in late 1950's. What he envisioned was a computer built from electrical circuits instead of motors. By drawing on Boolean algebra — which assigns the value of “1” to “true” statements and the value of “0” to “false” statements — he applied the value of “1” to circuits turned on, and the value of “0” to circuits that were off. Shannon also pioneered the field of information theory, which addresses the issue of how to quantify information, as in “bits” and “bytes.” To express information in a “bit,” one uses a binary digit, either a “1” or a “0.” These binary digits can describe everything from words to pictures to songs to videos to the most sophisticated gaming software.[5]

Today, it is difficult for any student to imagine life without a computer. However, computers have only been around since the mid 1900's. The computer industry went from making computers that took up an entire classroom to currently being able to fit into a student's backpack. Also, computers used to be much more expensive and required a greater amount of energy than today's computers. Finally, in the 1980s, people began placing these foreign objects into their home. During this time, people had to really study and be patient with this handy device.[6] People have seen the drastic changes that have been made to computers in a span of only forty years. Computers today are much smaller, lighter, require less energy, and cheaper. However, in today's generation, computers are second nature to most people, and one could not imagine life without them.

An open computer case displaying the hardware.

Computers in our generation seem to be integrated in our every day life to assist in multiple tasks related to our many needs. So much so, it is difficult to picture our world without them. However, with great success comes great patience. In the first computer model (1946-1957) for example, the machine required certain inputs, referred to as punch cards, and physical work to reprogram the computer. The computer itself was nowhere near as helpful, simple, nor convenient as it is today.

The first generation computers were built with thousands of vacuum tubes, required physical effort to re-wire the computer, and could only solve one problem at a time. The second generation of computers (1958-1963) introduced transistors, which replaced the vacuum tubes. Transistors simply acted as a light switch, allowing the electronic circuits to either open or close. Both first generation computers, and second generation computers continued to use punch cards for their input. Second generation computers also introduced hard drives (hardware), and programming languages (FORTAN & COBOL). Soon after, (1964-1970), the third generation used a system of integrated circuits, which incorporated many transistors and electronic circuits on a single silicon chip. The third generation of computers started the innovative trend of smaller and more reliable computers. Keyboards and monitors were now considered the computer’s input/output. Finally, the development of our current computers, used by practically everyone in society, began. The fourth generation of computers began in 1971, when it was possible to place far more transistors onto a single chip- the microprocessor. This discovery led within the decade to the creation of IBM's personal computers, as well as the popular Apple Macintosh. Consumers currently use inputs, outputs, and storage that consist of: keyboards, mice, monitors, printers, speakers, hard drives, flash memory media, and optical disks. Fifth generation computing devices, based on artificial intelligence, are still in development, though there are some applications, such as voice recognition, that are being used today. The use of parallel processing and superconductors is helping to make artificial intelligence a reality. Quantum computation and molecular and nanotechnology will radically change the face of computers in years to come. The goal of fifth-generation computing is to develop devices that respond to natural language input and are capable of learning and self-organization.[7]

Although the movement from vacuum tubes to microprocessors seemed to take a while, compared to the beginning of civilization thousands of years ago, this advancement happened very quickly. However, it also opens the human mind to realize that innovation takes trial, error, and patience.[8]

Hardware[edit | edit source]

The term hardware refers to the components used to build a computer. Breaking down the components into categories, you will find four main groups:

  1. Input
  2. Output
  3. storage
  4. processing

Although these are the four main categories, there are three more components to consider that do not fit into those main four:

  1. Case
  2. Power Supply
  3. Expansion Cards

Case[edit | edit source]

A computer case is used to put the essential components of a computer in. This provides an enclosed space and easier organization for the components to go.

Power Supply[edit | edit source]

A power supply unit (PSU) is used to power all components inside the case. It does this by converting AC power to DC power that is regulated by the PSU. What this means is that each component needs a certain amount of volts to work and the power supply will regulate the volts accordingly.

Expansion Cards[edit | edit source]

An expansion card is used to enhance certain attributes of the system. For example, a sound card can enhance sound by giving you surround sound capability. Another example is a video card, this will enhance the graphics of your system.

Input/Output[edit | edit source]

This category refers to the components a computer uses that receive data and send information. Input devices do the receiving and the output devices do the sending. Some examples of input devices are a keyboard, mouse, and a gaming controller. Examples of output devices are a printer, monitor, and speakers.

Memory[edit | edit source]

The memory within a computer can be broken down into two categories: short term memory and long term memory. Short term memory is the random access memory (RAM) while the long term is either your hard disk drive (HDD) or compact disk drive (CDD). RAM can be tapped into immediately by programs on a computer allowing it to compute faster, but if the user needs to save information for later use, using the HDD or CDD is required.

CPU[edit | edit source]

The central processing unit (CPU) is used to calculate the commands sent to it by the programs used on the system. It performs all the arithmetic and logical operations. This comes in the form of a small chip that is connected into the computer motherboard. The motherboard is where all other devices are connected so they can speak with each other.

Communications Hardware[edit | edit source]

An example of a wireless router.

Communications hardware is important when it comes to letting computer users access information from the Internet, put information onto the Internet, or interact with other computer users on a network. This type of hardware includes modems, routers, and network adapters. Modems and routers are the devices that connect computer users to the Internet: Signals go from the Internet service provider to the modem, which then converts them into an appropriate form and sends them through the router to the computer (or, when the computer user is sending information to the Internet, signals are sent via the router to the modem, which converts them and sends them to the Internet service provider.)[9] Modems and routers can be either wired or, increasingly commonly, wireless, communicating with the computer via signals rather than a physical connection. Network adapters are what allow computers to communicate on a small, local network. Sometimes, however, a computer may have a network adapter that consists entirely of software, called a virtual adapter. If this is in use, such as on a virtual private network (VPN), then no hardware component is needed.[10]

Software[edit | edit source]

Diagram displaying how software communicates with the user.

Computer software is used to communicate with the computer processor to direct certain operations to be performed. This is done through computer programming languages. Software can be broken into two parts: System Software and Application Software.

System Software[edit | edit source]

System software refers to the software used to operate the computer components. This also provides a foundation for application software, giving it the ability to carry out the desired functions. System software commonly comes on a system CD, for example a Windows 7 CD. This CD provides the operating system, drivers, Windows system, and utility software. The operating system allows the parts of the computer to communicate. This is done by transferring data. This is also the specific component of system software that allows for the running of application software. Utility software maintains the computer systems. Device drivers set up the ability for the hardware connected to the computer to function. Windows systems is the part that gives you a graphical interface on your monitor and allows the user to configure all connected devices.

Application Software[edit | edit source]

Application software are the programs and applications that are developed to carry out desired functions by the user. The way an application works is through programming software. Programming software is the middle man between the system and the actual application the user wants to run. Some examples of programming languages are Java, C++, and Visual Basic. Some examples of application software are web browsers and video games.

Two gentlemen discussing programming ideas.

Computer Users and Professionals[edit | edit source]

Computers are nothing without the people that use them, the common user and the professional. The common user is anyone that uses the computer for general purposes. This includes checking emails, playing computer games, typing up a paper, and the list goes on. What distinguishes a common user from a professional is that a professional works in the field of computer information technology. Examples of professions in this field are a computer programmer, web designer, network administrator, and software engineer. These are but a few of the many jobs involved in the field of computer information technology. These are the people that design the hardware to build computers, they keep business networks secure, they program software to communicate effectively with the user and hardware, and develop the latest and greatest software for the common user to enjoy.

References[edit | edit source]

  3. Understanding Computer Today and Tomorrow 14th Edition Comprehensive
  4. Technology/Analytical-Engine
  5. Claude Shannon: The Juggling Unicyclist Who Pedaled Us Into the Digital Age
  7. The Five Generations of Computers
  8. Understanding Computer Today and Tomorrow 14th Edition Comprehensive

Computers to Fit Every Need

Phablets[edit | edit source]

Phablets, a portmanteau of "Phone" and "Tablet", were first pioneered in 2007 by HTC. The concept was an original hybridization, borrowing the large, touchscreen display from a tablet computer and the functionality and size from a mobile cellular phone. The idea was eventually adopted by other large manufacturers including LG (GW990) and Nokia (N810), and underwent several different phases. The early generations had, in addition to a touchscreen, physical keyboards whereas the later ones do not. The Verizon Streak, produced and carried by the network, was released in 2009. Unlike most others at the time, it was restricted to phone and internet use within the household only. The current style of phablets was not popularized until 2011, after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note, (Android) which featured a 5.3" inch display and a removable stylus.[1]

Samsung Galaxy Note series (blank screens)

Embedded Computers[edit | edit source]

Thermostat Embedded Computer
Embedded Computers were used in the Apollo Guidance Computer

An embedded computer is a mini computer with a specific function within a product that completes detailed tasks or jobs for that product. Often times, individuals do not realize how many objects have embedded computers enclosed in them. Some examples of embedded computers used in households include, remote controls, heating pads, digital clocks, washing machines, and microwaves. Others include Bluetooth capabilities in cars, camera traffic lights, and Red Box machines. Surprisingly, a pregnancy test is also considered a simple, yet complicated embedded computer.[2] Embedded computers are developed to do one particular duty, and therefore a regular computer cannot act as an embedded computer.

So how does an embedded computer work? To put it into simple terms, an embedded computer is a computing chip rooted directly onto its motherboard or logic board. Before embedded computers were invented, a computing chip would be connected via wires to the motherboard, which would then be connected via more wires to the RAM and other peripherals. This not only made the interior of any computing device look like an absolute mess, but it was incredibly inefficient and performance was never what it could have been given the capacities of the components involved. With the advent of “embedded” or “integrated” components, the interior is free of all these transferring wires, and data only needs to bridge a small gap, rather than travel through tons of cables. The advantages of the embedded computers are that the bussing speed for data has greatly improved over externally transported components due to the minimal amount of physical distance data needs to travel.[3] Today, there are specialized jobs just for programming embedded computers.[4] The first embedded system used was the Apollo Guidance Computer created by Charles Stark Draper. It was considered to be one of the highest risks in the Apollo project since it was newly developed, but since then it has been proven to be more efficient.[5] Embedding computer technology has continued to develop and the “gaps” that needed to be covered have become smaller and smaller. A great example of this is the cell phone, which has evolved from the first “portable” bag phones into today’s iPhone5s that can fit in the palm of one’s hand. These embedded computer systems are used in all areas of life, and can be found anywhere from cooking and consumer functions to medical and military tasks.[6]

Mobile Devices[edit | edit source]

A mobile device is a handheld tablet or other device that is made for portability, and is therefore both compact and lightweight. New data storage, processing and display technologies have allowed these small devices to do nearly anything that had previously been traditionally done with larger personal computers.[7] These mobile devices are capable of numerous tasks including making phone calls, sending text messages, viewing Web pages, playing games, downloading music, taking digital photos, and watching TV shows and movies. With our ever-growing world of technology, mobile devices are at the tips of our fingers. Questions can be answered, maps can be observed, and weather can be checked. Of the many mobile devices used today, smartphones are the most common form of device. They have Internet capabilities along with the extensive list above. Tablet devices do not have all the capabilities smartphones have, but they are used for Web browsing, gaming, taking digital photos, and playing movies as well as TV shows. Mobile devices are now a big part of people’s everyday lives. Google stated, “The mobile phone might be the world’s most ubiquitous device…” (‎. This shows how technology will keep improving, to become the some of the most widely used devices around.

One of the drawbacks to some of the newer mobile devices is their use of non removable batteries. These batteries are designed to make the device more light weight. Although they are made to last for the duration of the computers life, there are instances when they fail. If this happens, it can be pricy and difficult for them to be replaced. Because of this, it is not uncommon for a user to simply throw the device away rather than spend the time or money to fix it. This has resulted in a big increase in what is known as e-trash, or electronic trash. Adding to this problem is the fact that these devices often contain toxic and harmful chemicals and eventually end up in landfills that are not able to dispose of them properly. Much of these devices make their way to countries with less standards and regulations for waste management, giving way to environmentally unfriendly and dangerous practices. This leads to toxic and lethal chemicals entering the air and water. Certain organizations such as Clean Production Action and Greenpeace have developed programs to attempt to persuade manufactures to stop using hazardous chemicals in their products. Unfortunately it may already be too late to reverse the damages done from e-waste. It is essential for the well being of this planet that mobile devices and other computer equipment are disposed of properly.[8]

Personal Computers[edit | edit source]

Laptop- Personal Computer

A personal computer is a computer that is mainly for individual use. Before personal computers, computers were designed for companies who would then attach terminals that would allow for more than one user to a single large computer and the resources were shared among all users. The first personal computers came out around the 1970s. The most popular of the time was the Apple II, which came out in 1977 from Apple Computer. In 1981, IBM came out with its first personal computer. IBM PC took over the market and it was what most people bought. Personal computers use single-user systems and are based on microprocessors.[9] Many people do link their personal computers together to create a network. Most personal computers are made up of a central processing unit, control circuitry on an integrated circuit, and various input/output devices. It also contains two types of memory; main memory and auxiliary memory. The sales of personal computers has grown tremendously over the years, according to Michael Dell in 2005 there were 240 million personal computers sold worldwide.[10] The sale of personal computers will, likely, continue to increase.

Midrange Servers[edit | edit source]

Ultra Enterprise 4000, rear
School computer lab using a midrange server

Midrange servers were also known as midrange computers or minicomputers in 1960s and were mostly sold to small and medium-sized businesses. However, midrange servers started to become popular in the 1990s. Midrange servers are used to host data and programs for networks, such as in hospitals or school computer labs. Midrange servers stand in between entry-level servers and mainframe computers. The big difference between midrange servers and mainframe computers is that the midrange servers function as stand-alone personal computers where mainframes are a network hosts. Midrange servers tend to have more memory capacity, such as random access memory (RAM), processing power (have multiple processors), room for expansion (have comparably large hard drives), and are more expensive than desktop computers.[11] Midrange servers are not limited for business use only. Another type of midrange servers is a special home server that can be build or purchase when personal computer is not enough. Special home server links all the content from all the computers onto one network.[12] Moreover, something that is happening more frequently with midrange servers is called virtualization. It involves splitting hard drives and creating two separate hard drives. It can also involve server virtualization which is splitting the physical server into smaller virtual servers. Each virtual server can run multiple operating system requests at the same time. Virtualizing servers is the best solution for small and medium-scale applications.[13] Virtualization helps companies to use fewer servers and that leads them to reduced costs and less server management.[14]

Mainframe Computers[edit | edit source]

Early mainframe computer
Mainframe Computer

Mainframe Computers are much larger computers that consolidate the needs of large organizations like universities, hospitals, banks, government offices, etc. These much more powerful and expensive computers are usually stored in data centers where they connect to all the other computers using a computer network. From this room a single mainframe can serve thousands of users on the same network. Early mainframe computers were first produced in the 1950s due to the increasing processing demands of growing businesses. From then on, these mainframes have increased in power and improved in size.[15] However, with more processing power, this requires more energy consumption, leading computer manufacturers to focus more on energy efficiency in these new computers. Manufacturers also began bundling free software with their mainframe computers as an incentive to help compete against other computer manufacturers. Eventually, a lot of these programs and several new ones were offered as separate products that they could sell rather than just giving them away for free.[16] Today, mainframe manufacturers use advances in technology to further improve the power and efficiency of their computers, one important being virtualization, creating several virtual servers rather than physical ones that take up space.

Mainframe computers may be good for having one space to collect data for a company. They are also known as high end servers, or enterprise class servers. The mainframe computer at IBM has 100,000 virtual servers and is actually very economically efficient, and more and more of businesses are trying to make them the most energy efficient as possible. The mainframe computers need a large enough space to be located for one, since they are used for large business responsibilities, such as computing data for a census, statistics, and economic processing. They are also used for payroll and billing but are constantly running day and night with different tasks to complete all the time. The type of tasks this computer does allow for them to operate for a long time with no interruptions. Mainframe computers are also very expensive. Having to find a way to cool a mainframe computer is difficult just because of their size alone. The other problem with the computers is that they are also expensive to even run, again because of their size. The amount of electricity to cool and run the mainframe computers makes them not the most energy efficient machine to have in a business.

References[edit | edit source]

Computer Networks and the Internet

The History of the Internet[edit | edit source]

The history of the internet begins in 1962 with J.C.R. Licklider’s memos about an Intergalactic Network idea, in which users around the world are connected and can access programs and data. With colleagues, he forms a research program called Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO). After an experiment with an air travel reservation system, the first communication satellite is launched that can allow machines to exchange data. Soon, IBM introduces System 360 computers into the market which becomes remarkably popular. American Airlines debuts IBM’s SABRE air travel reservation system to process on-line transactions, which links over 50 cities through telephone lines (1964).

Original Macintosh Computer

[1] By 1965 the first wide-area network connection is established by Larry Roberts and Thomas Marill. Over the next four years, the Network Working Group works diligently, creating a router, a modem, and even experimenting with monitors. On October 29, 1969 the first host-to-host connection was made! Then, over 3 years, memory, speed, processing, and communication capabilities are tested and refined and protocols are made. By 1973, 30 institutions are connected to the network called ARPANET.[2] In 1977 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak announced the Apple II computer, opening the consumer and small business market for computers. This led to the creation of more modems for dial up services. A computer science research network called USENET sets up a server where newsgroups can post to, in 1979. A year later an email only service opens. Less than a decade later, 30,000 networks are on the internet due to the advances with computers, including the new Macintosh computer and the use of Ethernet. [3] Within 2 years the number of hosts jumps to over 160,000! By 1991 over 600,000 hosts are connected in over 100 countries! [4] In just 30 years the hypothetical concept J.C.R. Licklider once toyed with has become a part of everyday life! A lot of experimenting and funding went into the creation of this remarkable "cyberspace."

From ISP to URL[edit | edit source]

Now that you know the history of how the internet came to be, it's time to start exploring. You double-click your browser of choice, the screen opens up... and you start drawing blanks. 'Where do I go from here?' you might start asking yourself. Just take a deep breath; using the internet isn't as complicated as you might think. The most important thing to understand before you start browsing through the cornucopia of online resources is the URL, (Uniform Resource Locator.) The URL uniquely identifies a specific Web page. The URL is composed of a communication protocol, (typically HTTP or HTTPS,) a domain, and a page. If you want to have your own website, you have to buy the domain name and then build upon your address. [5] The most interesting tidbit about domain names is that, just like fingerprints, no two can ever be the same. Unfortunately, this means you can't ever own the domain name

Internet Communication[edit | edit source]

Email icon

In today's technologically booming society, there are hundreds of ways we are connected to computers and the Internet every day. We use computer networks (collections of computers and other devices that are connected together to enable users to share multiple forms of information)[6] on a daily basis. While it is not always free to do so, such as having to pay an Internet service provider (ISP), there are many places that offer free wifi to people in their area. Today, we mostly use networks for social media, communication, and spreading of information. Think of the networks in your life. I'm guessing something like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn came to mind along with many others[7]. These are all networks that allow us to share information whether it be personal, images, news stories, surveys, information on new products, etc., these networks have become engrained into our daily lives and most people see them as helpful devices for distance communication and spreading of ideas. Another way we use the Internet for communication is through email. Most people today have an email address because they are required for registration for many different things we use on a daily basis (such as the networks previously listed)[8]. Usernames for e-mails have to be unique to ensure that every person in the world that wants to be on the Internet can have e-mail. E-mails consist of a username (something to identify it specifically), followed by the @ symbol, and finally a domain name like “yahoo”, “gmail”, and many others. Many usernames just incorporate a person’s name, but you can also use periods, underscores, numbers and other symbols to make it unique. In the past, blank spaces were not allowed in a username but some companies do allow it now. One symbol that is still not allowed in a username is the @ symbol, because it could be confused with the same symbol that separates the username and domain name. An example of this is Drupal. It is each company’s responsibility to make sure that each username attached to their domain name is unique. Today's evolving technology is making it easier to access things like networks and email through all of the mobile devices available and the use of apps or condensed mobile versions of the full desktop websites. Besides the obvious social uses of e-mail communication, they are now being used to help college campuses communicate with their students to help alert the students of an emergency like a tornado, dangerous lightning storm, flood warning, or if an intruder is on the campus. All in all, the Internet and computer have changed our world in forms of communication. [9] [10]

Searching the Internet[edit | edit source]

The internet's top search engines.

Searching the internet for a specific page or phrase has become easier than ever through the help of online search engines. Certain webpages, most popularly Google, have specific programs and algorithms that sort through the vast expanse of information available on the web. These websites work by processing keywords that are typed into the search bar and displaying a large list of webpages matching the keywords. Even in the early days of the internet there were programs such as “Gopher” that could help search the net, although the scale of these searches has risen exponentially since then. [11] Using special programs called “spiders”, the search engine compiles a list of results by crawling through the internet starting with the most popular websites and servers for the keywords searched. Through these processes an index is created by the spiders that is constantly being updated regarding the most popular and relevant results of all searches being completed, which on Google is over 3.5 billion per day and 1.2 trillion per year [12]. The more that people use these search engines, the faster and more efficient they become. Other websites may search for more specific information on webpages such as phone numbers, addresses, and maps. The websites where this information is kept are called reference pages.

TCP/IP[edit | edit source]

Schema internet
Application Layer

TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol –the most prevalent protocol stack used to connect hosts to the network and networks to each other. The suite of communication protocols has been developed due the request of the Department of Defense as a protocol of an interconnection the experimental “ARPANET” and diverse computing networks. A great contribution to the development of TCP / IP stack has made by the University of Berkeley, implementing protocols stack in its version of OS UNIX which has led to widespread IP protocol. Moreover, the Internet, the biggest global information network, runs on TCP/IP suite and Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is a major contributor to the improvement of the standards of the stack, published in the form of specification RFC. Since the TCP / IP stack was designed before the OSI – Open System Interconnection, his 4 layered structure also corresponds to 7 layered OSI model is rather arbitrary. The lowest (level 4) corresponds to the physical and data link layer model OSI. This level in the TCP / IP protocols is not regulated, but it supports all popular standards of physical and data link layer both LAN (Ethernet, Token Ring, FDDI, Fast Ethernet, 100VG-AnyLAN0 and WAN - communication protocols, ("Point to Point" SLIP, PPP X.25, Frame Relay). The next level (level 3) - is the level of interconnection, which is engaged in the transmission of packets using a variety of transport technologies of local networks, regional networks, special communication lines, and so on. As the main network layer protocol (in terms of the model OSI) IP, which was originally designed to transmit packets through the many numbers of networks, combined both local and global protocols. Therefore, the IP protocol works well in networks with complex topologies using rationally presence of subsystems and economically consuming bandwidth low-speed communication lines. The IP protocol is a datagram protocol, which means it does not guarantee delivery of packets to the destination node, but trying to do it. Besides the IP protocol, internet layer is represented by some other protocols such as RIP (Routing Internet Protocol), OSPF (Open Shortest Path First) and ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol). The last protocol is designed to share information about errors between routers and network node. Level 2 is called the primary. This level is a field of a functioning TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol). TCP provides the guaranteed delivering of the information and usually is being used by applications if data integrity and accuracy are critical. The UDP is being used for a non-guaranteed transmitting. The upper level 1 is the application level. Over the years, TCP / IP stack has accumulated a large number of protocols and application-level services. These include such widely used protocols as protocol to copy files FTP, TFTP, telnet, SMTP, HTTP, DNS and etc. [13]

References[edit | edit source]

Computers and Society

Benefits of a Computer-Oriented Society[edit | edit source]


Our generation strives to be the quick paced society which we are known to be. To do so, our generation uses computers to their full potential in order to do more tasks and to do them at a faster pace. Computers benefit the business and personal world by being able to do the following more efficiently: buying and selling products, communicating throughout the world, enhancing our knowledge, job influences, entertainment, research, and paying bills. We’re now capable of creating new, more and better quality tasks via computer technology. Computers also benefit society with the enhancement of knowledge of medicine which creates more effective treatments for a healthier and longer life. Computers are improving healthcare through robotics and research. We communicate operation results and any surgical problems easily and immediately between healthcare providers all over the world. Using robotics, surgeons can now perform surgeries in remote and/or distant countries without ever leaving their resident hospital. education, computers have changed the way we are able to acquire knowledge and attend school. In the past, school was a physical building we had to attend. Today, we can "attend" school completely online, never having to step foot outside of our homes, or attend both online and on a college campus in what is known as a blended course. We are able to invest our time differently and accomplish more. The convenience of computers is that we are able to access the computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. This also gives our society time to expand our knowledge and create new opportunities for our selves.[1]

The Hit Sci-Fi film of 2009, Avatar, used photorealistic computer-generated characters, created using new motion-capture animation

Being crucially important to the human race, computers have ultimately altered the way today’s society works, communicates, entertains, and educates. There is hardly any field of career left where technology isn’t essential; every small action performed in a job ultimately goes through some kind of a computer. In the end, being able to communicate and engage in this fast-paced manner enhances productivity levels by a great amount. One area this advancement of computers has immensely impacted is the business field. All businesses use computers to keep track of accounts, money, or make transactions. No longer will it take days, or even weeks, to communicate with someone that might not be located in one’s vicinity, as a computer allows one to easily send and receive emails with just a click of a button.

Another field that has come a long way since the production of computers is the entertainment area. Without the exceptional special effects put into an action movie with the help of our advanced technology, the audience would most likely not enjoy the show, resulting in the potential collapse of the entertainment business. For example, imagine watching the epic science fiction film, Avatar, but without any special effects put into it…it certainly would not be as entertaining as the power of computers transformed it to be. Hence, computers are able to keep both consumers and sellers satisfied, while still continuing to integrate into the everyday lives of average individuals.[2]

Disadvantages of a Computer-Oriented Society[edit | edit source]

Norton Logo


With any benefits, there comes a disadvantage. As for computers, there have been problems with excessive use, security and privacy issues and the problem with a dominant culture. With any product, any excessive use is bad; in this case the excessive use of the computer may result in a lack of human communication for face to face conversation and more communication through the computer. This affects our society’s confidence for when they are in in-personal conversation. To further add, people have the accessibility to abuse their time whereas people tend to be more attentive to their internet accesses and making the computer a time-consuming product. Many of the security and privacy concerns stem from the lace online. One example of a security risk today is malware. Malware can be accfact that a lot of our personal business takes pidentally installed onto your computer by clicking on a link on a Web page or e-mail message that contains a malware program, such as a computer virus. Once a malware program is successfully installed, it will typically erase data or bog down the computer, but it can also a steal sensitive data from the computer such as passwords or credit card numbers. To fight against malware, a wide variety of security software can be installed which will notify and block any attempts of malware trying to gain access to a computer. Another very common security risk is identity theft. Identity theft is when someone else gains access to your personal information and uses your identity to purchase goods or services. A popular way for identity thieves to steal personal information is phishing, a fraudulent e-mail or website that appears like a legitimate business in order to obtain Social Security numbers or other information needed for identity theft.

Lastly, societies throughout the world compete with one another for the latest technology, pitting countries against each other, While competition can be a good thing, tension and competition. computer use influences our society is that there dominant culture crisis that the cultures, globally, compete with one another for the latest technology enhancements which create a stronger ethnocentrism to the countries. As computers become more accessible and create new ways to be more effective, these disadvantages increase and/or new ones are created.[3]

Differences in Online Communications[edit | edit source]


It is obvious that, as the computer has evolved, our communication processes through it have as well. Emails and social networks have quickly become the telephone of the past; these tools are not only used in the personal world, but in the business world as well. However, though computers make it easy and drastically more convenient to communicate with people, it is important to follow a few simple guidelines and watch the tone while talking. These guidelines have come to be known as netiquette. Netiquette simply establishes what is and what is not acceptable when involved in online communications. One needs to remember that though it may not be face-to-face, they are still interacting with a human being. Act kind, courteously, professionally, and respectfully. Be sure to adjust your spelling, grammar, and tone of voice depending on the situation you are in; it may be okay to be casual when in a personal conversation, but emoticons and abbreviations don’t look to impressive within the business world. And how can you adjust your tone of voice when communicating by typing? Simply remember to NOT use all caps, which denotes yelling, and watch your use of exclamation points. Too often exclamation points are used when a simple period is best.[4]

The Anonymity Factor[edit | edit source]


It is an inevitable fact that, with increasing online communications, there is almost always going to be a sense of anonymity. Like almost anything in the world, this can be used for both good and bad purposes. Online, one can be who they want to be. They can have a secret identity, they can make unknown usernames, and they can say the things they want without feeling the judgment of others upon them. This can be used for good if it is for true, honest, and legitimate opinions. Examples of this are reviews, discussions, blogs, and important emails. The freedom of being a faceless commentator makes the individual feel comfortable expressing how they truly feel. However, it is important not to abuse this anonymity. People often use it to insult, harm, or coerce others into fraud. It is essential that one learns how to properly and respectfully use this gift of obscurity without abusing it.[5]

Diving deeper into the aspect of anonymity on the Internet, we see the need for anonymity and accountability. Users need to be anonymous in regards to personal information, such as credit card information but need to be accountable for what they say online. Accountability means that anyone that partakes in misconduct online will be identified and be responsible for the consequences. David Davenport, an assistant professor in the Computer Engineering department at Bilkent University, explains that allowing anonymous communication online ensures that users of the Internet become unaccountable for what they say. He believes that free speech is not hindered if users are identifiable online. One reason for anonymity is the need for information privacy, which refers to the rights of individuals and companies to control how information about them is collected and used. If everyone online could see the credit card number or the physical address of individual Internet users then no one would be safe. Professor Davenport explains the need for anonymity in protecting personal information and for accountability in identifying users that partake in criminal acts online. Perhaps, in the future, as technology improves and is increasingly able to identity persons of malicious intent then anonymity will not be such a concern.[6]

Integrity Factor[edit | edit source]

Question everything.

Due to the relative ease of accessing virtually any sort of information on the internet, every user will encounter the scenario of verifying the credibility of that piece of information. It is estimated that there are over 200 billion web pages, yet search engines cover less than a quarter of that figure. This leads to the fact that the internet is bound to provide both accurate and inaccurate information, which therefore places the responsibility of validating what was found on the user. For example, because Wikipedia provides such an extensive database of human knowledge freely and the ability for any person to edit many of the articles, it became apparent early on that there was a sort of “vandalism” taking place. Users would purposefully make false claims relating to that article for entertainment, and this constant abuse of the system inevitably led to a somewhat damaged reputation for the reliability of the site. However, over the years, Wikipedia has improved itself with updated methods of deterring vandalism to provide for more accurate information.

Wikipedia is only one site of billions, though. To obtain reliable information means for a user of the internet to question literally every site. According to Virginia Tech, this “questioning” is composed of five fundamental aspects: authority, coverage, objectivity, accuracy, and currency. Authority relates directly to the source of the information on that page. A user must take into consideration who is creating the information and the associations of the author(s) to other persons or groups (e.g. URL, reputation, expertise). Next, coverage questions the depth of the relevant information. This requires the user to examine the page and determine whether the information is actually useful or not. Objectivity is another crucial component because it examines inherent bias that authors use to further their goals. The information must be factual instead of distorted to persuade the user into taking a side. Accuracy is arguably the most important because it tests the validity of the information. For example, if the page contains a claim that completely contradicts the scientific community, it might be good reason to determine that everything else be read with a skeptical mindset. Lastly, currency examines how up-to-date the page is compared to the present time. If there are multiple updates frequently with links that are still alive (that is, they do not redirect the user to a dead page) then the user can feel confident that the author is providing information that is relevant to today.[7]

References[edit | edit source]


Key Terms[edit | edit source]

Application software
Application software is all of the programs on a computer that is developed to do a specific task. i.e. playing video games, or typing a paper.[1]
Booting up a computer is the process where you first turn it on after a time where the computer is off. The computer does a system check to ensure everything is operational between the OS, Bios, and hardware.[2]
A computer is any electronic device that is programmable, accepts input, processes that data, and produces an output.[3]
Domain name
A domain name is a text based name that is unique to each computer on the internet.[4]
Email or electronic mail is a digital message sent from one user to another through a network or the internet.[5]
Embedded computer
An embedded computer is a small computing device that does a specific function for that device.[6]
Hardware is the physical, tangible parts of a computer.[7]
Input is where you would enter data to the computer, usually be means of peripherals. Such as keyboard and mouse.[8]
Simply put the internet is a network of networks, connecting millions of computers together.[9]
Internet service provider
The internet being a network of networks, you must be able to connect to said network and the only way is through an internet service provider(ISP). Generally, the ISP is a large company that you would pay monthly for this service.[10]
Operating system
An operating system (OS) is the major system software that controls all other system applications and manages the computer hardware. All PC's need an OS.[11]
Output occurs after the computer processes the data you inputted and displays said data.[12]

Review Questions[edit | edit source]

1. An object or device outside the computer, that one would plug into a port to control the functions of a computer are ________.

2. A calculator and Excel are are both an example of _________?

3. A public program and/or website available free of charge that encourages its users to contribute and develop it’s code.

4. Adobe reader is an example of ________?

5. The structure that fits all the computer components for a computer to function is a ___________.

6. A language sent to computers to read, also called bits, that is deciphered using only 1s and 0s is also called____?

7. A Storage device that uses flash and has no moving parts _____, also often referred to as a USB drive?

8. A computer that has limited amounts of functions and has a fixed purpose is a ______?

9. A ___________ is an Internal storage device that spins magnetically coated disks to store and retrieve data.

10. A ______ is a machine that is programmable.

11. A computer first needs to process ________ to produce information.

12. A component in the computer that transmits signals through copper wires to all the components in the computer.

13. . The _____ is also known as the “brains” of the computer.

References[edit | edit source]

Answers[edit | edit source]

1. Input Devices 2. Application Software 3. Open Source Software 4. Freeware 5. Computer Case 6. Binary Code 7. Solid State Drives (SSD) 8. Embedded Computers 9. Hard Drive Disks 10. Computer 11. Data 12. MotherBoard 13. CPU

The System Unit

Data and Program Representation[edit | edit source]

Digital data and numerical data[edit | edit source]

Most computers are digital computers which use a specific language to communicate within itself in order to process information. If there are programs running in the background or a person is typing up a word document for example, the computer needs to be able to interpret the data that is being put into it by the human as well as communicate to working components within itself. This language that digital computers use is called binary code and is a very basic form of language composed of only two figures; 1 and 0. Whereas the English language is composed of 26 figures which we commonly call the alphabet, computers use a language composed of only two figures, hence its name "binary code". These 1's and 0's are referred to as "bits" - which are known as the smallest unit of data that a binary computer can recognize. They are found through every action, memory, storage, or computation that is done through a computer, such as creating a document, opening a web browser, or downloading media. In order to comply with more actions memory or storage, bits must compound together to form a larger unit referred to as "bytes".

Bytes are commonly used when referring to the size of the information being provided. For example, a song that is downloaded may contain several kilobytes or perhaps even a few megabytes if it is a whole c.d. and not just a single track. Likewise, pictures and all other documents in general are stored on the computer based on their size or amount of bytes they contain. The amount of information that can be stored onto a computer is also shown or displayed in bytes as is the amount left on a computer after certain programs or documents have been stored. Since bytes can be extremely long, we have come up with prefixes that signify how large they are. These prefixes increase by three units of ten so that a Kilobyte represents around 1,000 bytes, a Megabyte represents around one million bytes (1,000,000 bytes), a Gigabyte represents around one billion bytes (1,000,000,000 bytes), etc. Computers components have become so small that we can now store larger and larger amounts of data bytes in the same size computers resulting in the use of other larger prefixes such as Tera, Peta, Exa, Zetta, and Yotta. Below is a chart outlining the name of the prefix used and powers of ten they symbolize.[4]

Bit shift

Digital Data Representation, otherwise known as how the computer interprets data, is a key concept to understanding computer data processing, as well as overall functioning. Data is represented by particular coding systems. The computer recognizes coding systems- rather than letters or phrases that the user of a computer views. The actual process of the computer understanding coding systems is called digital data representation. A digital computer operates by understanding two different states, on or off. This means that the data is represented by numbers- 0’s and 1’s, and is known as a binary computer. The binary code is a very basic coding system for computers to comprehend. An advantage to digital data computing lies behind the binary coding systems. Although the binary code has become decreasingly popular in the professional, recreational fields due to an increase in technology, they still provide a use in programming. Digital data creates a simple way to duplicate and transfer information accurately from computer to computer, which is why it is still used today.[1] The terminology for the smallest unit of data is a bit, which consists of a single numeric value,0 or 1. Bytes, on the other hand, consist of groupings of multiple groupings of bits. Bytes allow the computer hardware to work more quickly and efficiently.[2]

(from the SI page on Wikipedia):

SI Prefixes
Name yotta zetta exa peta tera giga mega kilo hecto deca
Symbol Y Z E P T G M k h da
Factor 1024 1021 1018 1015 1012 109 106 103 102 101
Name deci centi milli micro nano pico femto atto zepto yocto
Symbol d c m µ n p f a z y
Factor 10-1 10-2 10-3 10-6 10-9 10-12 10-15 10-18 10-21 10-24

Representing data in a way that can be understood by a digital computer is called Digital Representation and Binary Code is the most commonly used form of this. Binary Code is a Numerical Representation of data that uses only 1 and 0 to represent every possible number. Mathematics uses 10 symbols ranging from 1 TO 0 and include 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 as well. This Numerical Representation of data is called the decimal numbering system because it uses ten symbols. As shown on the chart, the prefix deci symbolizes ten. In both systems, the position of each digit determines to which power that number is raised. In the decimal system each digit is raised by ten so that the first column equals 1 (10^1) or ten raised to the first power, the second column equals 10 (10^2) or ten raised to the second power, the third column equals 100 (10^3) or ten raised to the third power and so on. However, since Binary Code only operates with two symbols, each digit is a power of two instead of ten. In binary the first column equals 1 (2^0) or two raised to the zero power, the second column equals 2 (2^1) or two raised to the first power, the third column equals 4 (2^2) or two raised to the second power, the fourth column equals 8 (2^3) or two raised to the third power, and so forth. Because the Binary system takes advantage of so few symbols, the result is that more positions for digits are used to express the same number than in decimal form, leaving long lines of information for even the simplest expressions.

Coding systems[edit | edit source]

ASCII Code Chart-Quick ref card
A motherboard with an AMD chip.

There are a few different coding systems, EBCDIC, ASCII and Unicode. EBCDIC (extended binary coded decimal interchange code) was created for use in mainframes, developed by IBM. The code uses a unique combination of 0’s and 1’s, 8-bits in length, which allows for 256 different combinations. ASCII ( American standard code for information interchange) was created for a more personal use. ASCII uses a 7 bit code, though there is an extended code which adds an extra bit, which nearly doubles the amount of unique characters the code can represent. However Unicode is a much longer string of code, between 8 and 32 bits. With over one million different possibilities, every language can be represented with this code, every mathematical symbol can be represented, every punctuation mark, and every symbol or sign from any culture.

Roadmap to the Unicode SMP

Unicode is universal. With using 0’s and 1’s to represent different data, it has become fit for any language used all over the world. This code is replacing ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) because the characters in this code can be transformed into Unicode, a much more practical system for data. ASCII is known as the alphabet code, and its numbering codes range from 0 all the way to 127 considered to be a 7 bit code. Alphabets vary from language to langue, but 0’s and 1’s can be understood worldwide. The problem with Unicode is that it is not compatible with each computer system used today. Windows 95/98 does not have the ability to run Unicode while other Windows such as NT and 2000 are closer to being able to. There is a program Sun Microsystem’s Java Software Development Kit which allows you to convert files in ASCII format into Unicode. While Unicode is a huge improvement for coding systems today, it cannot process all symbols that are possible, leaving room for new systems to one day take its place.[3]

Graphics Data[edit | edit source]

Image where individual pixels can be seen.

One type of multimedia data is graphics data. These data are of still images, and can be stored in the form of a bitmap image file. A bitmap image is a type of graphic that contains pixels, or picture elements, that are arranged in a grid-like pattern.[4] Each pixel is made up of a specific group of numbers which corresponds to the color, and the color’s intensity. Although there are a few other key factors when determining the detail quality of an image, pixels play an important role. An image with many pixels allows there to be more potential of higher quality in that image. However, this doesn’t mean that more pixels in an image definitely results in a higher quality picture.[5] When shopping for digital cameras consumers must be aware of the amount of megapixels, or pixels by the million, the cameras in front of them have. Today, an average person wishing to take decent and basic everyday pictures will be satisfied with about an 8 megapixel camera. In fact, many new smartphone cameras use 16 megapixels, like the HTC Titan 2, a popular smartphone released in April, 2012. Someone with different intentions of using images, perhaps for making high definition prints, will require a camera with more megapixels. This would allow for their prints to be large, but with appropriate and exceptional quality.[6]

Audio Data[edit | edit source]

Audio Data is very similar to graphics data in that it is understood in pieces. Instead of using pixels, however, audio data uses samples. Audio data is usually recorded with an input device such as a microphone or a MIDI controller. Samples are then taken from the recording thousands of times every second and when they are played back in the same order, they create the original audio file. Because there are so many samples within each sound file, files are often compressed into formats such as MP3 or MP4 so that they take up less storage space. This makes them easier to download, send over the internet, or even store on your MP3 player.

Video Data[edit | edit source]

Video data is also similar to graphic and audio data, but instead of using pixels or samples, video data is recorded with the use of frames. Frames are still images that are taken numerous times per second and that when played simultaneously, create a video (most films are recorded using twenty-four frames per second).[7] Similar to audio data, because video data contains so much information, the files can be compressed, making it possible for full length movies containing thousands of frames to be stored on optical discs.

The System Unit - The Motherboard and CPU[edit | edit source]

Motherboard[edit | edit source]

Annotated Motherboard

"The motherboard can be thought of as the "back bone" of the computer." This quote is from the article Motherboard. Inside the system unit contains the motherboard. The motherboard is the "glue" of the computer. It connects the CPU, memory, hard drive, optical drives, video card, and sound card together. The front of the motherboard are peripheral card slots. The slots contain different types of cards which are connected to the motherboard. The left side of the motherboard contain ports. The ports connect to the monitor, printer, keyboard, mouse, speakers, phone line, and network cables.[8]

Like many of the components of computers, motherboards have not always been as advanced as they are today. Motherboards on early PCs did not have many integrated parts located directly on the board. Instead, most of the devices, such as display adapters and hard disk controllers, were connected through expansion slots. As technology advanced, more and more devices were built in directly to the board itself. At first, this began to create problems as manufacturers began to find that if one of the devices on the motherboard was faulty or in some way damaged, that the entire motherboard must be replaced. This led manufactures to change the design in a way that allowed them to remove faulty parts easily and replace them, especially parts that are growing and changing so quickly, such as the RAM or CPU. Today, a motherboard comes equipped with many parts working in conjunction with each other. One can find anything, from back up batteries, keyboard and mouse connectors, to cache memory chips, in close proximity to the CPU. The computer is able to do tasks faster as its components continue to be closer to one another. The advancement of technology has allowed for these parts to become smaller and more powerful, allowing more surface area on the motherboard to fit more devices. It is common today to find even audio and video components built into it as well. With technology moving as fast as it is, one may wonder what a motherboard will be capable of containing in the near future.[9]

Expansion Cards[edit | edit source]

Expansion card in motherboard

An expansion card, also known as an expansion board, adapter card, or accessory board, is a printed circuit board that can be inserted into an expansion slot on the motherboard to add functionality to a computer system. [10] The three most common expansion cards are the audio card, graphics card, and network card. Each type of expansion card has a self-explanatory name and all serve the same purpose of adding functionality to the computer. The audio card is responsible for producing sound that is then transferred to speakers or headphones. Commonly audio cards are built onto the motherboard, however, they can be purchased separately. The graphics card turns the data produced by a CPU to an image that is able to be seen on a computer's display. Along with the audio card, graphics cards are commonly built onto the motherboard, yet graphics card that produce higher resolution images can be bought separately. Lastly, the network card is an expansion card that connects the computer to a computer network. This allows for a computer to exchange data with the computer network through a commonly used number of protocols called IEEE 802.11, popularly known as wireless LAN or Wi-Fi. [11]

CPU[edit | edit source]

The central processing unit, also known as the CPU, is responsible for executing a sequence of instructions called a program. The computer needs the CPU in order to function correctly. It is known as the brains of the computer where the calculations occur. The microprocessor and the processor are two other names for the central processing unit. The Central processing unit attaches to a CPU socket on the motherboard. A multi-core CPU contains more than one processor chips. This specific type of CPU is efficient because it allows computers to work on more than one task at a time because the singular processor can run multiple instructions on the different cores at the same time. Also, these multi core CPU's experience less over heating than the original CPU which causes much less problems to the computer.

History of the CPU[edit | edit source]

The Intel 4004

The first CPU ever made was the Intel 4004, which was designed by Federico Faggin. After ten months of Faggin and his colleagues working on the chip, it was released by Intel Corporation in January 1971. Even though this first generation, 4-bit microprocessor could only add and subtract, it was a major breakthrough in technology. The amazing quality was that all of the processing was done on one chip, as opposed to prior computers which had a collection of chips wired together. This invention lead to the first portable electronic calculator.[12]

While technology has advanced quite a bit since 1971, old technology is not as “out-of-date” as one thinks. There are still CPU chips made in the 1970’s and 1980’s that are still being used today. Personal computers, such as PC’s and Mac’s, use faster, more up-to-date CPU’s because the users run many programs at the same time. However, the more simple computers embedded in cars, printers, and microwaves can still use the older forms of microprocessors. For example, one famous CPU was the MOS 6502, made in 1975, and it was still being used in many appliances up until 2009. Control processing units are the key component in any computer, and thus sometimes the simpler styles work best.[13]

The System Unit - Memory, Buses, Ports[edit | edit source]

Memory[edit | edit source]

The Template:Gaps byte (512×220) capacity of these RAM modules is stated as "512 MB" on the label.

Memory identifies data storage that comes in the form of chips and is used to store data and programs on a temporary or permanent basis. There are two main types of memory storage which are random- access memory (RAM) and read-only memory (ROM). Inside the system unit, ROM is attached to the motherboard. Random-access memory can read data from RAM and write data into RAM in the same amount of time. RAM capacity is measured in bytes. It is volatile which means that it loses the information/data stored on it when the power is turned off. In order to retrieve an important file at a later date, one needs to store it on a separate, non-volatile, storage medium (such as a flash drive or hard-drive) so that, even though the information is erased from RAM, it is stored elsewhere. RAM has different slots where it stores data and keeps track of addresses. Read-only memory cannot be written to and is non-volatile which means it keeps its contents regardless of whether the power is turned off or not. Flash memory (solid-state) is starting to replace ROM. It is also a non-volatile memory chip that is used for storage on devices, like mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, etc. This type of memory can often be found in the form of flash drives, SD cards, and Solid-State hard drives. The reason for this is so that the data can be quickly updated over time while taking up a smaller amount of physical space in comparison to its precursors. Flash memory is also more resistant to outside forces, such as electro-magnetic fields or shock, than other memory alternatives such as traditional hard-drives.

A microprocessor, which may use cache memory.

Cache memory and Registers are special types of volatile memory that allows a computer to perform certain tasks much more quickly. The cache memory is a high speed circuitry that can either be built right into the CPU or very close to the CPU. Registers are built into the CPU to store intermediary results during processing. A good analogy from HowStuffWorks compares the computer to a librarian, data to books, and cache to a backpack.[14] Suppose somebody walks into a library and asks the librarian for a copy of the book Moby Dick. The librarian goes back into the room full of books, grabs that book, and gives it to the reader. Later that day, the reader returns, having finished the book, and gives it back to the librarian, who returns it to the same storage room. Then, a second reader walks in asking for the same book, Moby Dick. The librarian has to get up and go all the way back to the room in order to get the book he was just handling, which is a waste of time. Instead, suppose the librarian had a backpack that could store up to 10 books. When the first person returns Moby Dick, the librarian puts it into his backpack instead (after making sure the backpack doesn't have 10 books in it already.) Then, when the second person comes in requesting that same book, the librarian can just check his bag, get the book out, and hand it to the second person without having to walk all the way back into the other room. Cache memory functions like that backpack, it stores previously accessed data in a specific area with a limited amount of memory so that the processor can get this data much more quickly.

Ports[edit | edit source]

Parallel Printer Port

Ports are on the outside of the system unit and they are used to connect hardware devices. There are physical ports and virtual ports. A physical port is a physical connection to a computer where data is transferred. It is when something is physically plugged into the computer or some other device. Virtual ports allow software applications to share hardware resources without having to physically connect to each other or to interfere with one another.[15] Parallel ports are most often used with a keyboard, printer or mouse, but these are more commonly known as legacy ports instead. Each port has a certain connector to plug it into the computer. Different type of ports would be power connectors, VGA monitor port, USB ports, Firewire port, HDMI port, Network port, audio ports, and empty slots. The connectors would be Monitor (VGA, HDMI), USB, Firewire, network, and audio connector. Each port also has a different purpose and connector. Almost all PCs come with a serial RS-232C port or a RS-4222 port and they are used for connecting a modem, mouse, or keyboard. They also have parallel ports that are used to connect printers. These are also considered USB ports because they are physical ports and which standardize communications between computers and peripheral. USB ports were created in the mid 1990’s; USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. There are also network ports used to connect a computer to a network. Ethernet was developed in the 1980s and it is a system for connecting a number of computer systems to form a local area network (LAN).

A serial port is used to connect modems to personal computers. The term “serial” signifies that data sent in one direction always travels over a single wire within the cable. The last main kind of port is the FireWire, which are used to connect FireWire devices to the computer via a FireWire connector. These are used with mostly digital video cameras and other multimedia devices.

Thunderbolt port[edit | edit source]


A Thunderbolt port connects peripheral devices through that cable. These ports allow you to connect more devices to your computer and are very fast. Thunderbolt ports support hardware controller I/0 protocols with the use of a single cable. I/O technology is input and output, and is a device that transfers the data to the computer peripherally (a CD-ROM would be an example of an I/O technology). This port supports full bandwidth for both directions of the port, thus allowing the user to be faster and more efficient with the connected devices. This type of technology allows people to plug in as many devices as they can use on their computer while not slowing any of those devices down. The thunderbolt port is also small, so it is easy to travel with as well.[16]

Power supply unit[edit | edit source]


Computers need power and there are two main functions the power supply unit, also commonly referred to as the PSU, is responsible for. The first is to convert the type of electrical power available at the wall outlet such as 110 V 60 Hz AC (alternating current) or 230 V 50 Hz AC to the type the computer circuits can use. The other crucial task is to deliver low voltages to each device due their requirements. The converting currents could be represented either by built in PSU (desktops, servers, mainframes) or by the separate power supply adapters for computers with rechargeable batteries inside (laptops, tablets). Three main voltages are used to power computer : +3.3 V, +5 V, and +12 V DC, Usually, the +3.3 or +5 voltages are being used by logic circuits and some digital electronic components (motherboard, adapter cards, and disk drive logic boards) while the motors (disk drive motors and any fans) use the +12 V power. The power supply must provide a good, steady supply of DC power for the proper system operation. Devices that run on voltages other than these must be powered by onboard voltage regulators. For example the CPUs operate 1.5 V and 2 V and require very stable power with high power consumption. [17]

Ethernet Cable in Theatre[edit | edit source]

An Ethernet cable

A commonly used cable today is Ethernet cable. You are probably most familiar with its use involving the internet in your home, mostly going from your modem, to another computer of to a Wi-Fi router. However, the use of Ethernet cable has been instrumental in the changing would of technical theatre. Before its introduction, the most common computer cables used in theatre were DMX and XLR, for lighting and sound respectively. The issue with this is that each cable can only carry the information for one device, be that a microphone or light. In addition, if these cables are stored improperly, they can corrupt the information being transmitted. Ethernet is much smaller, and can transmit far more data. Also, there is less of a danger regarding storing cable. Ethernet, combined with new operating system and equipment, has made things far more efficient. For example, an analog board must have one XLR cable go to each microphone, so if you wanted to run 40 microphones, you must have 40 channels available on your soundboard. Also, the size of a cable with 40 smaller lines inside it can reach a one-inch diameter, and can weigh several hundred pounds. Now, a digital soundboard can control up to 100 microphones on a single Ethernet cable.

This is a Yamaha digital soundboard capable of running ethernet

How the CPU Works[edit | edit source]

CPU Architecture and Components[edit | edit source]

A CPU core

As previously discussed on this page, the CPU is a complex piece of the computer made up of many parts. The way these parts all fit together inside the CPU is different in each processor but they mainly contain the same parts from device to device. The most abundant part in the CPU would be the transistor. Modern CPU's typically hold several hundred million transistors with some of the more high-end computers holding over a billion, and for good reason. Calculations in a computer can be performed thanks to the combination of transistors turning off or on. Besides these transistors, there are several parts that make up the CPU. Some of these include the arithmetic/logic unit (ALU) and floating point unit (FPU), the control unit, and the prefetch unit. The ALU is the part of the CPU that deals with the mathematics involving whole numbers and any functions done with those numbers. The FPU takes care of the mathematics with other numbers like fractions, or numbers with decimal places.[18] These two parts work hand in hand, using arithmetic and logical processes, to allow you to perform basically any function you perform on your computer. The control unit takes charge in controlling where and when information is transferred to and from the CPU. When information leaves the control unit, it is usually sent to the ALU/FPU where it can be converted into a process. The prefetch unit, as its name implies, fetches data before it is needed. It uses a sequence of processes to guess what information will be needed next, and have it readily available before the time it needed. Other components of the CPU include the cache, the decode unit, and the bus interface unit. The cache serves as high-speed memory for instructions that the CPU would like to access faster, in other words instructions that the CPU would rather avoid retrieving from RAM or the hard drive. The decode unit, just as it sounds, decodes instructions. Once the prefetch unit fetches data, the data goes through the decode unit so the instructions can be understood by the control unit. The bus interface unit allows communication between the core and other CPU components. Think of it as literally a bus, taking information from one place and transporting it somewhere else. [19]

The Internal Clock[edit | edit source]

Every computer actually has two different clocks. One is the virtual or system clock that runs and is displayed whenever the computer is on and running.[20] The other is a real-time clock or hardware clock that runs continuously, and is responsible for tracking the correct time and day. This device does not count time in days and hours for example. Instead it just runs a counter at times per second. As far as the century goes, it is the job of the BIOS, the Basic Input-Output System, to track this and save it in the non-volatile memory of the hardware clock. These two clocks run independently on each other. The system clock is physically a small quartz crystal that can be found on the motherboard. It also helps synchronize all computer functions by sending out signals- or cycles- on a regular basis to all parts, much like a person’s heartbeat. Hertz is the unit of measure used to count the number of cycles per second. For example, one megahertz is one million ticks of the system clock. This clock is very important to the CPU because the higher the CPU clock speed, the more instructions per second it could process. Since the entire system is tied to the speed of the system clock, increasing the system clock speed is usually more important than increasing the processor speed.

PCs in the past only had one unified system clock with a single clock, which drove the processor, memory, and input/output bus. However, as technology advanced, the need for a higher speed, and thus multiple clocks, arose. Therefore, a typical modern PC now has multiple clocks, all running at different speeds to enable any data to “travel” around the PC. Furthermore, two CPUs with the same clock speed will not necessarily perform equally. For instance, if an old microprocessor required 20 cycles to perform a simple arithmetic equation, a newer microprocessor can perform the same calculation in a single clock tick. Therefore, even if both processors had the same clock speed, the newer processor would be a lot faster than the old.

The system clock alternates between zero and one at a periodic rate.

As mentioned previously, a CPU serves as a great example for the synchronization that the system clock performs. To synchronize, most CPUs start an operation on either the falling edge, when the clock goes from one to zero, or the rising edge, when the clock goes from zero to one. All devices, such as a CPU, synchronized with the system clocks run at either the system clock speed or at a fraction of the system clock speed; therefore, the CPU is unable to perform tasks any faster than the clock. For example, during each system clock tick, a CPU clock speed of 2 GHz allows the CPU clock to “tick” 10 times, executing one or more pieces of microcode. This ability to process multiple pieces of microcode at one time is known as superscalar. [21]

The Machine Cycle[edit | edit source]

5 Stage Pipeline

A machine cycle is a term often used when discussing the clock. It has four main parts- fetch, decode, execute, and store. The machine cycle occurs whenever a CPU processes a single piece of microcode. The fetch operation requires the program instruction to be fetched from either the cache or RAM, respectively. Next, the instructions are decoded so that the ALU or FPU can understand it, known as the decode operation. Then, the execute operation occurs when the instructions are carried out. Finally, the data or result from the ALU or FPU operations is stored in the CPU’s registers for later retrieval, known as the store operation. A fifth possible step in the cycle is the register write back operation, which occurs in certain CPUs. The RISC CPU, which stands for reduced instruction set computer processing unit, is an example that uses the fifth step of the machine cycle. Machine cycles can only process a single piece of microcode, which forces simple instructions, like addition or multiplication, to require more than one machine cycle. In order to make computers faster, a system known as pipelining has been created. Originally, one machine cycle would have to finish processing a single instruction before another instruction could be carried out through a second machine cycle. With pipelining, as soon as an instruction passes through one operation of the machine cycle, a second instruction can start that operation. For example, after one instruction is fetched and moves on to decoding, the CPU can fetch a second instruction. This invention allows for multiple machine cycles to be carried out at the same time, which boosts the performance of the computer. Also, because of how fast the CPU can work with pipelining, it can be measured in millions of instructions per second.[22]

Typical CPU Components (continued)[edit | edit source]

Just like a real life bus transports people, the bus interface unit carries information from one destination to another

To round up the simplified inventory of a CPU's guts, we have the decode unit, the registers and internal cache memory, and the bus interface unit. Of the remaining three sections of a CPU, the decode unit is easiest to understand because its job immediately follows the job of the prefetch unit. After the prefetch unit collects the data, the decode unit decodes the data into a language that is easier for the ALU/FPU to understand. It does that by consulting a ROM memory that exists inside the CPU, called microcode.[23] The registers are used during processing; they're groups of high-speed memory located within the CPU that can be accessed by the ALU and FPU, or for other assorted optimization purposes. While the registers provide the fastest speed of memory, their space is extremely limited. In the cases where the small register space isn't good enough, there are the caches to save the day. The cache is used by the CPU for memory which is being accessed repeatedly, speeding up the access time and having a slightly larger storage than the register.[24] The bus interface unit does exactly what it sounds like; it buses the data back and forth, connecting the core of the CPU to interact with other components.[25]

Another aspect of the CPU is improving processing performance. In the past most CPUs designed for desktop computers had only one single core, so the only way to improve performance was to increase the speed of the CPU; however, increasing the speed also caused the CPU to heat up. So now a days CPU have multiple cores in order to increase the performance. The new iPhone XS, for example, will have six CPU cores. In an article by Stephen Shankland from CNET on September 12, 2018, he explains how the new Apple iPhone XS CPU will be able to perform faster. The new Apple iPhone is going to have a new A12 Bioinic chip. It is going to have more transistors, which if you recall, are small devices made of semiconductor material that acts like a switch to open and close electrical circuits. This new A12 chip will have about 7 billion transistors according to the article Mr. Shankland wrote. Mr. Shankland states in his article that that the new A12 will be 15 percent faster than 2017’s iPhone X, and consume 40 percent less power. As of now, this information is coming from graphs and information that Apple has shared. The thing to know and realize is that companies are constantly striving to improve performance and reworking the architecture of the CPU can improve the performance.[26]

Improving the Performance of Your Computer[edit | edit source]

Computer Hard Drive

Add More Memory and Buy a Separate Hard Drive[edit | edit source]

When it comes to technology, there is no question that newer is better. New systems are able to process faster, store more, and run more applications at one time. However, it is obviously not within everybody’s means to just run out and purchase the newest technology the minute it hits the market. Technology is expensive, and therefore it is important to know your options. For example, if you have a computer that is a couple of years old, it is not unreasonable to assume that the hard drive and memory on the system are starting to slow down. However, what many people may not know is that buying a new computer is not the only solution to the problem. You can add memory to your old system simply by purchasing a new memory card and installing it into the computer hardware. By doing this, you are saving money and buying yourself a little bit more time with the computer.[27] Another way to speed up your computer with out having to invest in a whole new one is by buying a second hard drive. When the original hard drive starts to fill up, one can simply purchase either an internal or external hard drive for the computer and drastically increase the operating speed.[28]

Upgrade To A Solid-State Drive[edit | edit source]

An Intel X25-M Solid-State Drive

Since solid-state drives (SSDs) are hard drives that use flash memory technology instead of hard disk platters they have no moving parts. They also no longer make noise, consume less power thus generating less heat, and are much faster than hard drives. Since they are much faster than hard drives, the performance of the computer would also be improved. Running programs, opening files, saving things to the disk, even browsing the web will be much faster. Also with a mechanical hard drive, physical heads have to move around to read data from the disk while in a solid-state drive data can be read and written on any location thus there is no penalty in performance. Not only are solid-state drives faster but they have also become less expensive that upgrading to them is much more affordable and reasonable. Even further, installing solid-state drives is not too difficult or complex. It is basically the same as installing regular hard drives. Also if the decision of upgrading to solid-state drives seems a little too final, it is possible to just add a solid-state drive alongside the hard drive. Thus not only having more space, but also having the ability to keep the old mechanical drive.[29]

Upgrade Your Internet Connection[edit | edit source]

If your system seems to be running poorly while using the internet, you may have to upgrade your internet connection. Upgrading your internet connection may become more costly but there is a significant change in the processor. Your first step would be to discuss any upgrades or check if the provider needs to be enhanced in any way. Then find a browser that is suitable for your connection type. With that being stated, you can change the settings on the router in order to speed up the internet connection. In order to prevent your internet connection becoming slower, it’s highly suggested to have a password in order to access the internet. In addition, every computer owner should provide maintenance to their computer in order to prevent viruses or any bugs the computer may receive but it also prevents an internet connection from being slow. In order to do so, keep up with upgrading and cleaning the computer because the more the computer is trying to maintain, the slower the internet connection may become.[30]

Video Graphics Card

System Maintenance[edit | edit source]

In order for computers to operate at their maximum efficiency, users must be aware of the importance of system maintenance because, over a period of time, one may notice a reduction in system performance. This can be attributed to a number of common factors that lead to the degradation in performance. One major reason is hard drive fragmentation. As more programs are installed onto the hard drive, the pieces of the files that are on those programs take longer to be located. The longer pieces of the program become shorter and fragmented, leading to a longer waiting period for the user as the computer searches for these scattered pieces. Related to this, although not nearly as detrimental to system performance as fragmentation, is the cluttering of pieces and references to uninstalled programs in the operating system. For Windows users, this occurs in the Registry. After the user uninstalls a program, there are references to that program left behind in the Registry that can possibly impact performance. However, performance is not necessarily the issue here. For example if the user is going to update the system by switching from an Nvidia graphics card to an AMD one, it might be a good idea to not only uninstall all drivers and related programs but also to clean the Registry of any references to the Nvidia drivers and software (in order to avoid possible conflicts when the AMD card is installed). This will ensure a “clean” install of both the hardware and software components. A free registry cleaner utility one can use is CCleaner.[31]

Temporary files (e.g. from web browsers and installation programs) can take up valuable storage space if they are not removed after extended periods of times. Also, users should be aware of the programs they are installing and decide which specific programs are to run at startup. Too many programs can slow down the initial startup time of the computer because it must launch program after program. Only those programs that are necessary should be included, and to check for this, click Start (in the lower-left Windows icon) and enter the command msconfig in the search tab. This will open the System Configuration window. Programs that run at startup are listed under the Startup tab. Here the user can enable or disable programs, which can affect startup time.

Another important factor in determining system performance is the corruption of system files by malware. Viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and other forms of malware can infect a system by various means, so it is important for the user to be aware and defensive. Anti-virus programs and other security software provide protection from malware, so it is recommended that a user has some sort of program installed and regularly scans the system for any traces.

Lastly, dust can accumulate in and on heatsink fans (e.g. processor and graphics card), case fans, ports, power supplies, and motherboards. Every internal component can accumulate dust, and this can be a major issue for system integrity because dust acts as an insulator by trapping heat. Fans with too much dust do not operate efficiently because the fins do not spin quickly, which further exacerbates the heating problem. Not only that, but dust can also cause electrical shorting of the circuits, which can irreversibly damage components.[32] To clean the computer, power off the system, which includes turning off the power supply. It should not be connected to any source. Then open the case and use a can of compressed air to blow out the dust wherever it may be. The goal is to rid the case of any remnants of dust. Following this and the other tips listed above will help ensure reliable performance and a longer lifespan for the computer.

Future Trends[edit | edit source]

The supremacy of supercomputers may not be as evident in the future.

The challenge of making computers faster and more efficient has brought new ideas to the table of technology. One such idea is nanotechnology, which uses microscopic components only nanometers in length. Carbon nanotubes are already being used in technology today in products such as lithium ion batteries because of their great performance conducting electricity. Other nanotechnology includes nanoparticles and nanosensors. Another idea that has received increased recent attention is quantum computing. These computer’s go beyond regular computers’ binary system using qubits, which can be either a 1, a 0, or both simultaneously.[33] Although these computers are only able to perform seemingly simple tasks like sudoku puzzles as of recently, their potential is outrageous for tasks such as encryption. Optical computing is another form of future technology which uses light waves to transfer data. Since the in fared beams do not interfere with each other, optical computers can be much smaller and more efficient that electronic computers. In fact, once optical computers have been mastered the computers will be able to process information at the speed of light using very little power at all.[34] In years to come, the extraordinary power of supercomputers is predicted to be available in more common computers using technology like terascale computing to process at incredible speeds.

Review Definitions[edit | edit source]

Application Software: Programs that enable users to perform specific tasks on a computer, such as writing letters or playing games.

Computer: A programmable, electronic device that accepts data input, performs processing operations on that data, and outputs and stores the results.

Data: Raw, unorganized facts.

Information: Data that has been processed into a meaningful form.

Computer Network: A collection of computers and other hardware devices that are connected together to share hardware, software, and data, as well as to communicate electronically with one another.

Hardware: The physical parts of a computer system, such as the keyboard, monitor, printer, and so forth.

Internet Appliance: A specialized network computer designed primarily for Internet access and/or e-mail exchange.

Operating System: The main component of system software that enables a computer to operate, manage its activities and the resources under its control, run application programs, and interface with the user.

Output: The process of presenting the results of processing; can also refer to the results themselves.

Software: The instructions, also called computer programs, that are used to tell a computer what it should do.

Storage: The operation of saving data, programs, or output for future use.

URL: An Internet address (usually beginning with http://) that uniquely identifies a Web page.

Web browser: A program used to view Web pages.

World Wide Web (WWW): The collection of Web pages available through the Internet.

Web server: A computer that is continually connected to the Internet and hosts Web pages that are accessible through the Internet.[35]

Review Questions[edit | edit source]

1) What is the key element of the CPU?

2) What are the connectors located on the exterior of the system unit that are used to connect external hardware devices?

3) What is an electronic path over which data travels?

4) _________ are locations on the motherboard into which _________ can be inserted to connect those cards to the motherboard.

5) What is used to store the essential parts of the operating system while the computer is running?

6) The ______________________ consists of a variety of circuitry and components that are packaged together and connected directly to the motherboard

7) A _________ is a thin board containing computer chips and other electronic components.

8) The main circuit board inside the system unit is called the ___________ .

9) Before a computer can execute any program instruction, such as requesting input from the user, moving a file from one storage device to another, or opening a new window on the screen, it must convert the instruction into a binary code known as ____________.

10) In order to synchronize all of a computer's operations, a __________ is used.[36]

Review Answers[edit | edit source]

1) Transistor 2) Ports 3) Bus 4) Expansion slots, Expansion cards 5) RAM 6) Central Processing Unit 7) Circuit Board 8) Motherboard 9) Machine Language 10) System Clock

References[edit | edit source]



Storage System[edit | edit source]

As the demand for technology and technology itself continues to excel throughout history, so does user's wants and needs. The user's lifestyle pertaining to computers may revolve around publishing documents, creating presentations, media management, networking on the internet, and much more. In correlation with their wants and needs, there's the need to be able to have access to storage of the data being produced. Storage is also referred to as 'memory', as it can be any type of hardware that's functionality includes, storing data, maintaining downloaded files along with extracting files as well. This can be performed through both permanent and temporary storage along with being internal to a device, or external.

As the spectrum of technology storage is a wide-range and continues to grow, benefits of storage included today are:

  • Cost-efficient
  • Speed
  • Enhanced efficiency

Examples of storage includes:

  • Hard Disk Drives / Solid State Drives
  • Storage Area Networks
  • Network Attached Storage
  • Computer Disks
  • USB
  • Cloud Computing


Storage Media, Storage Technology, and Volatility[edit | edit source]

Types of Storage Media

Storage media is the hardware in which information is physically stored. This differs from the storage device which is usually the docking bay for the storage medium. One example of a storage device would be your CD/DVD drive in which you place your disks when inserting them into your computer or your USB flash drive reader. Storage media would be the actual CD/DVD disk itself or the memory within your computer known as RAM (Random Access Memory). Storage media can be internal or external meaning that it can be either hard-wired to the computer (ex. hard drive) or it can be a separate physical storage facility thats meant to be more mobile, (ex USB Flash Drive). Internal storage media is usually faster since it is hard-wired to the desktop or laptop and does not requires any extra space outside of the computer. On the other hand, external media is very mobile, can be transferred from one computer to another rather quickly, and is easily secured in a safe place separate from your main working station.[6] On top of this the Non-Volatility of these storage medias have made them very valuable. Normally when a computer is shut down, any unsaved information is wiped clean from the RAM. Or if the information isn't being used, while the computer is still on, the RAM may delete it to make room for processes being recalled more frequently. Storage media on the other hand, saves data despite the computer being powered down and can only be deleted by the user. From this, storage media such as flash drives and data CD's are more commonly used for the user's wants and needs.

Magnetic Hard Drive
Bouncing Wave or ASE from a Laser Disk

Storage Technology usually comes in three forms; magnetic, optic, and solid state. Some common magnetic storage systems are hard drives, floppy disks, and cassette tapes. Though cassette tapes don't work with computers, they use the same technology. This type of technology stores binary code using polar alignments on the magnetic medium and can change those alignments as needed when information is altered, deleted, or rewritten. The magnet does this by converting the binary code from 1's and 0's to positive and negative charges, respectively, which are recorded on an iron oxide film inside the media. Optics use laser beams which rely on marking the media. In this case, lasers burn in lines of data which represent the binary code it is converting. "Rewritable" media has also become a popular choice for those who want to reuse the same disk. Rewritable media relies on changing the reflectivity of the media instead of scarring it. When the binary number 1 is recognized, the laser alters the reflection of the discs surface in certain spots. Data is then separated by the pits in between reflectivity which represent the binary number 0 so that 1's alter the reflection and 0's leave the reflection of the media as is. This creates a "bouncing-wave" like appearance on the surface of the disk called an Amplified Spontaneous Emission or ASE for short. Solid State Drives, or SSD's as they are called, do not contain any moving parts such as lasers or magnetic heads. They operate electronically by storing the binary code as electrons which are either trapped or not trapped inside the flash memory cells within the unit. These types of media tend to be faster than the other two since they rely on electrical polarity within a cell instead of electronic motors to be read or rewritten. This also makes them more resistant to shock, allows them to run more quietly, and reduces the latency of the media. Typical storage media of this kind are "jump" drives or "thumb" drives, but some computers use this technology in their hardware as well.

Clusters, Sectors, and Tracks[edit | edit source]

Disk structure showing a track (A), a sector (B) and a sector of track (C) and a cluster of sectors(D).

Hard disks have many circular pieces called platters inside them. These platters have two sides are made up of tracks, sectors, and clusters. A cluster is a group of sectors, and a sector divides tracks into pie shaped sections. Each cluster, sector, and track is numbered in order to help the computer quickly locate where specific stored data is. For example, data can be saved to side 2, sector 1, track 5. A track can be compared to the grooves on a music record, because there are physical indents where the data is actually stored. Data is read and written by a read/write head, also commonly referred to as a “head.” Each platter has a head. When data is to be stored on a hard disk, the heads will align with the same track on every platter, and write the data across each one. There are a few measurements you can take to see how well a hard disk preforms. The most important measurement is calculating seek time. Seek time will tell you how long it takes for a head to move from one track to another. The quicker the seek time the better because that would mean data can be reached faster.[1]

Random vs. Sequential[edit | edit source]

Random vs sequential access

When thinking of storage systems, one could presume that all of your data in one folder is located next to each other within the hard drive. This is false when talking about random access. With random access your information can be pulled from any location on the disk. Meaning, your one folder could have its data scattered about the physical hard drive. The benefit of this type of storage is that you could access data in any order. Think of it as your CD player, your favorite song ends and you want to hear it again just hit back and you instantly hear it again. It’s fast and nearly instantaneous, unlike sequential. You could think of sequential access like a cassette within a cassette player. When a song finishes and you want to listen to it again, you must rewind the cassette, or if you want to skip a song you must fast forward the tape.[2] This is used with magnetic tape drives which, are used for backup purposes. Even though in random access media devices may seem like data could be misplaced or somehow lost in the sea of data. When created, every file is given a unique name by the computer system, other wise called addressable media, in order to keep tabs on all the data.

CDROM-Random Access
Tape-Sequential Access

Random access and sequential access of data are two separate ways a computer can access data. Random access is the ability to access data in any given location within the hard drive, quickly and efficiently. Most computers use random access today, because it saves the user time, as well as avoids confusion. Sequential access requires data being accessed in a sequence. Examples of sequential access would be: data on a disk file, or magnetic tape data storage. This can be useful to some users, if they are purposely attempting to process a sequence of data elements in order. However, this can also be time consuming for users who are trying to find a certain file on a disk or tape, which requires skimming through all of the data in a sequence. An example of a comparison between random access and sequential access would be the A-Z method. Sequential access would inquire the user to go through letters A-Z to achieve the goal of meeting point” Z”; whereas with random access, the user is able to jump directly to point “Z”.

Storage Devices and Storage Media[edit | edit source]

USB Stick,Storage Medium

The storage medium is a part of the storage system where the actual data is stored, such as on a DVD or a memory card. This medium can then be put into a storage device like a DVD player or phone to read this data. You usually find these two parts to be separate pieces, making the storage medium removable. Some storage devices can be found inside of the system unit, while others are plugged into an external port. There are letters on the storage device that go along with this that helps the unit to identify them. These letters or words describe where these are and what they are used for. For example, when you plug in a USB into the USB port on the computer, while viewing this USB in “My Computer” you will see a letter next to it verifying what it is used for in the system unit. Storage devices contain primary and secondary memory. Primary memory is volatile memory, which means that when the device is shut off, the information is lost. Secondary is the exact opposite, being non-volatile in that the memory remains even if the computer is turned off.[3] The problem with these devices is you must be cautious with how they are treated, especially if they have important information. Misplacing or mistreating can result in a loss of important data that could be impossible to get back depending on the circumstances.

Hard Drives[edit | edit source]

External hard drives
Datawalker LA18

Every computer contains one, if not two, hard drives. There are internal and external hard drives. The internal hard drive is located inside the system unit, and the external hard drive is connected to the computer for extra storage. It is vital that an owner of a computer purchases an external hard drive to backup his or her computer in case it crashed. An external hard drive is extremely convenient to store information; however, one must be cautious of the possibility of "hard drive theft" because it is easy for someone to access a random, external hard drive into their own computer. Many people today use a finger print or password to access to their hard drive because of this reason. Without a hard drive, one could not store the countless amount of information contained to a computer. The hard drive holds a port to connect to the motherboard.[4] There are a wide range of capacity for hard drives, depending on the computer owner's preference.[5] Magnetic hard drives and solid-state hard drives are two common hard drives used for computers. A magnetic hard drive is the term computer users mean when they say hard drive, and solid-state hard drives cause flash memory technology. Without hard drives, many information and data would be lost and forgotten.

Hard drives are used as primary storage units to store most data and computer programs to operate on a computer. The two types of hard drives available for purchase are: internal hard drives, and external hard drives. There are many things to consider if you are a consumer seeking these storage devices. The internal hard drive, which can be included in the computer before purchase, is directly connected to the motherboard, (A.K.A the brain of the computer), as well as other components inside the tower or casing of the computer/laptop. An external hard drive is commonly used among users who are either portably transporting data/programs from device to device, or seeking extra storage space for their files. External hard drives can be very small, and convenient for traveling with data. There are multiple different options to explore while considering a hard drive: speed, consistency, and durability. The types of hard drives offered include either of the following: magnetic storage, optical storage, and electrons which use flash memory media.[6]

Hard drive interface standards[edit | edit source]

A hard drive with a SATA interface.

A hard drive interface (or hard disk interface) refers to "the logical and physical means by which the hard disk connects to the PC."[7] For over a decade, the most common hard drive interface was by a wide margin AT Attachment/ATA, also known as Parallel ATA or PATA. ATA is still used in modern PCs, but it is not as significant as the more modern interface, Serial ATA, or SATA. The more modern SATA uses smaller cables, is more reliable, and possesses greater bandwidth than the now-obsolete PATA. SATA and ATA are not compatible, but there exist adapters to connect ATA interfaces with SATA drives (or SATA interfaces with ATA drives). Another common interface is SCSI (or Small Computer System Interface), which is especially useful for multitasking where multiple hard drives are used, such as in a workplace environment.[8] Essentially, the difference between these three interfaces can be summarized as follows:

  • ATA interfaces are cheaper and are still fairly common, but they are slower and outdated.
  • SATA interfaces are the most useful: the only problem is that you need to buy additional adapters for them to interact with older systems, but they are still relatively cheap, they have high speed, and their wires are small, which frees up more room in the computer and helps prevent overheating.
  • SCSI interfaces are very fast and can handle a wide range of applications and amount of data, but they are quite inexpensive and impractical for home use; SCSI is used more for networks than personal use.[9]

"The Cloud"[edit | edit source]

Cloud storage, also referred to as "The Cloud", is simply the use of a remote storage device that is accessed by means of the internet. Cloud storage has seen a massive increase in popularity over the last few years, and the industry for it has grown substantially to the point where there are now hundreds of companies that offer a variety of cloud storage services. More specifically, some cloud services focus only on digital pictures or email messages, while other systems store all kinds of digital data. Some services, like Google Drive, allow users to save their files in one of many massive data centers Google operates where, for instance, multiple users can collaborate on projects by having access to the same file.[10]

As the cloud’s popularity is growing, more and more businesses are transferring over to its storage capabilities. Many businesses are using the application as a back up program for their software and documents. By scheduling a set time for the computer to automatically transfer documents over, businesses can be sure that their information lies safely in the hands of the Internet without having to spend the tedious amount of time and cost of backing it up manually. Though the different applications of the cloud do sometimes have a monthly fee to pay, it is a small price to pay for the time and convenience it lends you. By utilizing these applications, anybody is able to access their documents anywhere worldwide. An individual is no longer tied down to just one electronic device in one set area, but can instead revise a version of a document on their laptop and then pull it up at work for a presentation the next day. This is just one example of the hundreds of ways that the application can be used conveniently to meet your day-to-day needs. The cloud is connecting electronic devices all across the globe and making every day processes just a little bit easier. [11]

Despite of the fact, that a Cloud storage term has appeared in use quite recently, people and businesses actuality use online storages for a long time. For example saving copies of letters on mail server or retrieving network configuration files from TFTP server. These days Cloud storage term should be considered is one of many other Cloud computing services. It could be provided as separate product – “Storage-as-a-Service”, and also be a part of others, for example: Infrastructure-as-a-service, Platform-as-a-service or Software-as-a-service. As was mentioned above, the rapidly growing popularity is primarily due to quite low cost for a service itself (Storage-as-a-Service) when users pay only for the volume of data they stored, and if we are talking about the Infrastructure or Platform services which are great opportunity for business to reduce an IT expenses as well. With all advantages are given by online storing, there are few things users should be aware deciding entrust the care of their data to the provider. It might be as purely technical concerns (reliable internet connectivity, provider’s backup algorithm, disaster recovery, security of access, etc.) and legal aspects as well (ownership of data, jurisdiction, rights to audit). [12]

Disk Access Time[edit | edit source]

Hard drive head

Disk access time is a measurement that calculates the amount of time it takes before for a drive to read and write data. Disk access time involves three major steps: seek time, rotational delay (or rotational latency), data movement time. Seek time is the amount of time it takes for the head to move to the disk to prepare for reading. Rotational delay is the delay that occurs when waiting for the disk to begin rotating. Data movement time involves the movement of data from the disk to memory of the computer or the movement of data from the memory of the computer to the disk. Maximum rotational latency is the time it takes for the disk to perform a full rotation excluding any acceleration time. There are two types of ways in which a disk rotates: constant linear velocity and constant angular velocity. Constant linear velocity occurs when the rotational speed of the disk is dependent upon the location of the head. Constant angular velocity occurs when the disk is spun at the same speed regardless of the location of the head, like vinyl records. Certain low-noise disks utilize a slower disk access time to reduce noise created by the hard drive. Slower rotational speeds and seek speeds are purposefully installed to make sure that audible clicks and crunching sounds don’t interfere with recordings.

Flash Memory[edit | edit source]

Flash Memory and How It Works[edit | edit source]

Flash Memory Structure

Flash memory is a type of storage device that uses electronic memory. Flash memory comes in a variety of ways and is known as a solid state storage device, meaning “there are not moving parts – everything is electronic instead of mechanical.” Flash memory is used in many different devices, such as, computers, digital cameras, and mobile phones. Flash memory is a type of EEPROM chip. EEPROM stands for Electronically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. Inside of a flash memory chip is a grid of columns and rows with a cell. There are two transistors at each intersection and a thin oxide layer separates them. One transistor is known as a floating gate and the other one is known as the control gate. An electrical charge comes through the columns to the floating gate, which is called tunneling. The electrical charge causes the floating gate transistor to act like an electron gun. When the electrons get trapped on the other side of the thin oxide layer, closer to the control gate transistor, they act like a barrier between the two transistors. A cell sensor monitors the level of the charge. If the flow is above the 50% threshold, it has a value of 1 and if it is less, the value changes to 0. This is how information/data is being read on the flash memory device. Nowadays, flash memory has become the “dominant memory type wherever a system requires a significant amount of non-volatile, solid state storage.” [13]

Embedded Memory[edit | edit source]

Embedded memory is becoming an increasingly popular type of flash memory due to its small, convenient size. In today's society these types of memory can be found in phones, cameras, gaming devices, and even handheld devices like a GPS.[14] In July 2013, Samsung announced that they developed the world's fastest embedded memory. These new products will be available in the 16, 32, and 64 GB sizes and feature an interface speed of 400 MB/s. This will increase user's abilities to multitask and perform tasks such as file transferring, browsing, and gaming. It also decreases the amount of time it takes to boot and load applications. This is a key factor in mobile devices where the physical space for additional storage or memory is limited. Memory cards are being used less and less when manufacturing mobile devices and smartphones. One limitation of the chip is the amount of memory it could store. The larger the chip, the more expensive the device is going to cost. Something else to consider is the problem that arises if the device breaks. Any valuable information that was stored on it is virtually irretrievable. That is one advantage of having a removable memory as discussed below.

Flash Memory Cards and Readers[edit | edit source]

One of many different types of flash memory card that exists on the market.
Sony PlayStation Memory Card, made for gaming purposes only.

If you want a fast and easy method of storing various types of media, you can't get much better than a flash memory card. Most modern portable devices contain a flash memory card because of its versatility and ease of use; cellphones, mp3 players, and digital cameras are but just a few examples of products that benefit from flash memory cards. However, just like how not all electronic devices can use the same type of battery, not all flash memory cards are compatible with every electronic portable device.[15] That's why it's always important to read your user manual for instructions on the right card to purchase if you ever need a replacement.

Although the devices themselves can only use a specific flash memory card model, most modern desktop and notebook computers come with a flash memory card reader. The reader typically supports a number of different cards so you're able to organize and transfer the data from card to computer. If you aren't one of the fortunate few to have this reader built in to your computer, external models are sold at most stores that sell computer components and they're inexpensive.

Although a general-purpose flash memory card is used for most applications, there are other special memory cards that are made only for one unique purpose. For example, a professional compact flash memory card is designed for professional photographers for improved speed, quality, and storage capacities, taking telling a story through a picture to the next level. Also, special gaming flash memory cards are used for all game consoles, like Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation, to hold saved game data. Other special flash memory cards include HD memory cards for capturing high-definition videos; netbook memory cards to expand the storage of a netbook computer; and Wi-Fi enabled flash memory cards used to wirelessly upload photos from a camera. [16]

USB Flash Drives[edit | edit source]


The USB storage device is one that has been growing rapidly in popularity. It is a very user friendly form of storage. To save information to a USB flash drive, one simply must plug in the USB drive into the USB port (usually on the side or back of the computer), click the "save as" option on their project, then select the drive on their computer which represents the USB. Then one can eject the USB and take the saved information anywhere they need. USBs are quickly advancing as well. There are now ways that you can create an entire mobile computer, a fingerprint enabled secure file, and secure the use of your computer all with the use of a single USB flash drive. These new advances are sure to be hot on the market. USBs are high in demand right now, not just because of their technical abilities but also because of how you can choose a USB to fit into any lifestyle or match any personality. There are thousands of custom USBs available in stores and online. These range in colors, sizes, amounts of memory, and even shapes.[17] USB flash drives are something that will definitely be here to stay for a while longer, even with the ever emerging cloud. USB flash drives are also very secure ways to store information. Since they are not connected to the Internet, they cannot be hacked, and some can be encrypted to prevent unauthorized access. The one down side to this use is the possibility of the flash drive being lost or stolen, but with proper precautions and organization, this can be avoided. Flash drives also preserve data and documents in a non-volatile state. As some specialized computers (such as theatre control boards) are prone to crashes and glitches, saving information on a flash drives prevents is from being corrupted or lost in the event of a system crash or other glitch. In simpler systems, flash drives can be used as the central storage point for a computer. While this may be inefficient on most machines, those that are single use and do not require large amounts of memory can benefit from this, as the system is flexible, and more memory space can be added as needed. However, the primary benefit of flash drives remains the mobility. Flash drives are an inexpensive and more secure alternative to the cloud and other means of Internet storage.

USB flash drive

USB drives are the perfect devices for transporting data and files. They are easy to use and their portability makes them incredibly convenient. In addition to storing files, they can also be used to run portable apps. Certain applications can be turned into portable versions of themselves. You can have access to various software applications to use on any computer. Free programs exist to convert applications to portable ones to, in essence, create a portable PC on a thumb drive. USB drives range in storage capacity from 2 GB to 4 TB. With 4 TB of storage in such a portable size, the limits to their use are virtually endless.

USB drives can be password protected, or some can even be secured using biometric features, like a finger print. There are some concern related to USB drive security. They can contain large amounts of information, and given their portability, they can be used for transporting files secretly. Anyone with access can simply plug a USB drive into a computer, copy files onto it, and remove them from the premises. USB drives carry an additional security risk in that they can contain malware that can be automatically launched using AutoPlay (which can be disabled) as soon as they are plugged in.[18]

Solid State Drives[edit | edit source]

an example of a SSD

SSDs serve the same purpose as HDDs: they store data and files for long-term use. The difference is that SSDs use a type of memory called “flash memory,” which is similar to RAM—but unlike RAM, which clears its data whenever the computer powers down, the data on an SSD persists even when it loses power. SSDs use a grid of electrical cells to quickly send and receive data. These grids are separated into sections called “pages,” and these pages are where data is stored. Pages are clumped together to form “blocks.” SSDs are called “solid-state” because they have no moving parts. SSD's are much faster than traditional hard disks (especially during random reads/writes) as they do not rely on mechanics to locate data (which becomes slow when data is located at different ends of a hard drive).[19]

However, as with flash memory, SSD's can last only a finite amount of writes. As an SSD is used, the electrical charges within each of its data cells must be periodically reset. Unfortunately, the electrical resistance of each cell increases slightly with every reset, which increases the voltage necessary to write into that cell. Eventually, the required voltage becomes so high that the particular cell becomes impossible to write to. While SSD's include extra capacity (which cannot be seen by the user) solely to replace cells which become damaged this way, after a lot of writes (usually over 150 TB), the drive will fail. However the volumes of writes (reading alone isn't affected) required to do so is far out of the reach for most users.

The main drawback of a SSD as compared to a HDD is price; SSD's cost significantly more than a HDD, but the price difference is rapidly falling, and more and more computers now include a SSD by default.

Network Storage

Remote Storage[edit | edit source]

Remote storage is there to expand the disk space without hard disks and isn’t connected to the computer directly but accessed through internet. That way you can access your files wherever you are, whenever you want, on your laptop or Smartphone or even a different computer. This is the basic concept of cloud storage. When you need to access a file, you open the file as usual but if the data isn’t on your local volume, Remote Storage retrieves the information from a media library. When data is removed from a file, the logical size of the file remains but the physical size is reduced. [20]

Being much faster and reliable than storage devices like CDs, DVDs, hard disks, and flash drives, an online remote storage provides protection against system errors like viruses, and enables one to recover lost data from any potential system crashes. Being critical to not only businesses, but home computer users as well, an online storage provides low-cost and easily accessible security for data management and storage. To assure maximum security, many online companies automatically backup systems on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, to an “electronic vault.” Also, unlike CDs or DVDs, using remote storage diminishes its vulnerability to damage and data loss. Living in today’s high-tech society, the online remote storage system is definitely a very essential, yet affordable tool to assure that the countless amounts of data being saved on devices is still remediable after a computer failure. [21]

Floppy Disk[edit | edit source]

The floppy disk drive was invented at IBM by Alan Shugart in 1967. The first floppy drives used an 8-inch disk that was later called a "diskette" as it got smaller, which evolved into the 5.25-inch disk that was used on the first IBM Personal Computer in August 1981. The 5.25-inch disks were dubbed "floppy" because the diskette packaging was a very flexible plastic envelope, unlike the rigid case used to hold today's 3.5-inch diskettes.[22]

The floppy disk is an archaic physical external storage device that is now obsolete. There might be some banks that still use this storage medium, but any business or person who is considered computer literate does not use this system to store information. The down sides to floppy disks are that they are not compatible with any device that is contemporary, their security is non-existent, and the storage capacity is low - usually with a maximum of 1.44MB. The last version of a floppy disk was released in 1987 by IBM.

Holographic Storage[edit | edit source]

Holographic Data Storage

Holographic storage utilizes photo-sensitive media and innovative laser beam technology as a means of computer storage. This new storage method has the ability to store 1,000 DVD's into this 4 square inch storage device. This is unlike previous methods of data recording, such as magnetic and optical hard drives, which involve a rotating disk or simple 2D lasers. Instead, holographic storage begins with a single laser that is split into two separate parts -- the signal beam (carries data), and the reference beam (reconstructs hologram when prompted). A spatial light modulator is used to encode data for the signal beam, followed by a conversion of electronic data into binary code. It is then arranged into a specific pattern of dark and light pixels (representing zeros and ones), consisting of >1 million bits each. The signal and reference beams intersect, and a holographic image is created through a 3D refraction that is etched into the media. Advantages include a safe, fast, reliable, and portable system of storage. Disadvantages include expense, limited capacity, and recording fails. UV rays can also erase the data, which makes this method unstable in the long-term. Since the concept is still in its infancy, however, problems are expected to diminish greatly over time.[23]

Storage area network[edit | edit source]

The storage cloud enables storage devices like a PC, a desktop, or a mobile phone to communicate with the host computer system, as well as with each other.

Storage area networks are clusters of high performance computers used to transfer huge amounts of data. SANs are also used for distributed processing applications requiring fast local network performance and designed specifically for data management. SANs move storage resources off the common user network and into an independent network. What this does is allow each server too access any shared storage extremely quickly, as if it was already attached to the server. Typically, a SAN is assembled using three components: cabling, host bus adaptors, and switches. [24] [25]

What makes a good storage area network? A SAN definitely needs to be indestructible and have a built-in protection against any potential harmful failure. If a SAN is vulnerable to failures and is unable to recover lost data, an enterprise may even go out of business! Secondly, a vast amount of storage capacity is another essential to a valuable storage network; since the number of devices connected to one host system may increase by time, the organization’s storage and processing also needs to expand accordingly. A big advantage of using a good storage area network is the fact that even if all of one’s system servers crash, the SAN remains online and provides disaster recovery. [26]

Network Attached Storage[edit | edit source]


NAS is a type of dedicated file storage device typically connected by a wired networking connection, therefore only providing local area network users with storage. NAS supports file transfers, in which it will back up any data that appears in the form of files, such as email boxes, web content, remote system backups. The main advantage of a network attached storage is that network storage is no longer limited to the amount the computing device can hold. NAS devices typically look very box-like, without a keyboard or display. NAS products come in levels of capable storage space, drive capacity and drive scalability, often placed into one of 3 categories: Desktop NAS, devices aimed at small businesses and home users; Mid-market NAS, devices capable of running several hundred terabytes but not clustering; Enterprise NAS, devices that can store huge amounts of files, including virtual images, and being able to NAS cluster. [27] [28]

NAS vs SAN[edit | edit source]

Sharing via "The Cloud"

Both systems of storage serve different purposes for their clients. The main difference between SAN storage and NAS storage is the way that the systems interact with the network. A NAS network will behave in a way that makes it similar to any other network component. In contrast, the storage devices of a SAN network are found in a separate network but connected to the main one. Overall though, both systems are used for storage and over time the performance offered by both is becoming harder to distinguish. For example a SAN uses Fibre Channel interconnects while NAS makes Ethernet and TCP/IP connects, but now many SAN systems are switching over to those connection routes NAS systems use.[29]

Optical Discs[edit | edit source]

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Optical Disc

An optical disc is a flat, circular disc that stores data and is made out of a very strong plastic called polycarbonate substrate. This helps to protect the disc with many layers of coating. Data on these discs are read optically, which means that they store data using laser beams. Data can be stored on one or both sides of the disc. The track, which is a single spiral around the disc, spins from inside the center track (or groove) to the outermost track for the data to be read. Most people today have already switched from VHS movies to DVD movies, and now to Blu-ray DVDs. The advancement in technology has made viewing and burning capabilities for DVDs and CDs much more beneficial. These optical discs do not degrade, like VHS and magnetic media do. Optical discs are used in our every day lives for storage, backing up, photos, movies, music, and much more.

Read only discs are molded and stamped to show the data so that it can only be read (and not over written). This happens with most CDs for music and software, and DVDs for movies. A recordable or rewritable optical disc with a CD or DVD uses a laser to represent the data. An example of this would be burning a CD for music, or an iMovie project to a DVD. There is a complex process that takes place when writing the data on the optical disc. To mold or stamp the discs, bumps (called pits) are formed on the disc’s surface. The places that are not changed on the optical discs are called lands. Switching from a pit to a land represents a 1 (like discussed in the system unit). CD discs use infrared lasers, DVDs use red lasers, and Blu-ray discs use blue-violet lasers. These different types of lasers are used to store different amounts of data at a more compact size.

Optical drives are the machines that read the discs of CDs, DVDs, and BD drives. Many households have switched to Blu-ray DVD players. However, users are upset because only BD discs can be played on BD drives which is considered a hassle to some. These drives are also used to burn data on the discs.

History[edit | edit source]


Optical disks were invented in 1958 by David Paul Gregg, he patented them. James T. Russell was then the first person to have made a recording audio digitally to an optical disk. Later Sony and Phillips research physicists made the CD’s we know today that can store large amounts of data. For this first generation of CD’s they could hold up to 75 minutes of audio with 650Mb of storage. The purpose of the first generation was only for audio and computer software. They were capable of making a CD video but the VHS cassette was more popular at the time and it cost too much to produce them. These CD’s were read with an infrared laser. Later the second generation could store even more data and was used for video. They were read with a visible laser light which allowed the lands a pits to be smaller thus creating more space to for more data. They allowed 4.7 GB of storage on a standard single disc. The third generations are being developed to create even more storage available, like a Blu-ray disc. The Blu-ray disc use blue-violet lasers. There is even a fourth generation to be discovered that could hold up to one terabyte of storage.

CDs, DVDs, and BDs[edit | edit source]

Recordable CDs

Read-only optical discs include CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, and BD-ROM discs. These are CDs or DVDs that come with something already prerecorded on them and they cannot be cleared. This is because the pits that are molded into the surface of the disc are permanent. There are also read-only discs for video games and different software.[30]

Recordable optical discs are also sometimes referred to as write-once discs. This means that these can be written to but the discs cannot be reused or erased. These include CD-R, DVD-R, DVD+R, and BD-R discs. The difference between the DVD-R and the DVD+R is the standard being used. There is also a DVD-R DL and a DVD+R DL, which indicates whether or not it is dual layer. Using DVD+R will allow you to instantly eject the DVD without having to wait for the finalized version. It also allows you to record some of the DVD on a personal computer and some of it on the TV. Another feature is that is it 100% compatible with all DVD players. Recordable CDs are often used for backing up files, making music CDs, or sending large files to other people. BD-R discs are used for even larger back ups that need even more storage and they are used for high-definition multimedia files.[31]

Rewritable optical discs include CD-RW, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, and BD-RE discs. These can be written on and then erased and rewritten on. To rewrite on these types of discs they use phase change technology. So basically the rewriteable disc is coated with a metal alloy compound. They then use heating and cooling to write on the disc without making it permanent. These are used for backing up files but they are more convenient than recordable optical discs because they can be used multiple times.

Details about CDs[edit | edit source]

Small cdisk ubt

Compact Disc (CD) is used to store video, audio, and data in different formats classified in the Rainbow Books. It includes formats like CD-ROM (Compact Disc Read-Only Memory), CD-R (Compact Disc- Recordable), CD-RW (Compact Disc-ReWritable), VCD (Video Compact Disc), photo CD, and Enhanced Music CD. Compact Disc comes in standard 12 cm (120mm) or 8 cm (80mm) in diameter. The most popular is the 12 cm type with a 74- or 80-minute audio capacity and a 650 or 700 MB (737,280,000 bytes) data capacity. The 8 cm type is used in electronic devices like portable compressed digital audio players or data storage products like miniature CD recorders.[32] CD-Rs were invented by Philips and Sony and together with CD-ROM there were about 30 billion CDs sold worldwide in 2004. The high-capacity recordable CDs can hold 90 or 99 min of audio on a 12 cm disc and 30 minutes of audio on a smaller disc (8 cm). The ability to write beyond the manufacturer’s declared capacity on a CD-R or CD-RW disc is called oversizing or overburning. However, Overburning might affect product warranties and result in lost data so it is not recommended. However, it might affect product warranties and result in lost data so it is not recommended.[33] These days, more and more compact discs are being replaced by flash drives or downloading.

Details about BDs[edit | edit source]

Blu-ray disc (BD-RE)

The newest form of optical disk is the Blu-ray disk (BD), which was officially announced on February 19, 2002, and was first available to consumers on April 10, 2003. Blu-ray gets its name from the blue laser that reads it (as opposed to the red laser that reads DVDs). BDs have more storage capability than its predecessor and also has a variety of new functions that DVDs did not have, such as the following: record high-definition television without losing quality, record one program while watching another at the same time, automatically search for an empty space on the disc to avoid recording over a program, and access the Web to download subtitles and other features. The way BDs achieve this is by having smaller pits, so more data can be stored, and having a laser with a shorter wavelength, a blue laser, that can read more precisely. DVDs could not fit more information because a red laser is not precise enough to read pits that are packed together as close as the pits on a BD. Pits on a DVD could be a minimum of 0.4 microns, while BDs pit minimum is 0.15 microns. Also, the track pitch on BDs has been reduced from 0.74 microns to 0.32 microns. Because of all these improvements, a BD can hold more than 25 GB of information, which is five times the amount that a DVD can hold.[34]

How to Repair a Scratched CD or DVD[edit | edit source]
Xbox360 scratch

Compact Discs (CDs) and Digital Video Discs (DVDs) both store their data externally on a disk. Unfortunately, as we all have experienced, these disks often times get scratched, making the CD or DVD skip, or sometimes not work at all. Depending on where the scratch is located, the disc may or may not be able to be repaired. It seems scratches on the top, shiny part of the disc are harder to repair than if the scratch is on the lower plastic part of the disc. Although some companies are developing scratch resistant discs, their efforts may be in vain due to technology moving fast past these forms of storage. For those people still utilizing CDs and DVDs, scratches on them can be annoying and frustrating. There are a few simple remedies consumers can try to repair their discs and attempt to get more life out of them. The first step is to clean the disc with a mild soap and water. This can help by removing any finger prints that may be hindering the disks’ functionality. Users then want to dry the disc with lint free cloth, as even the smallest fibers can scratch and damage the disc further. After the disc is dry, the user can then apply toothpaste to it, smoothing it out in a straight direction from the disc’s center. After this, the disc should be rewashed to remove any excess paste. If this procedure is successful, the toothpaste will fill in the scratches so the disc can again be played with little or no skipping. Often times, scratches to these discs are too severe for this method to help. If that is the case, companies advise consumers to discard the disc altogether. Luckily, as technology continues to advance, the reliance on these forms of storage is decreasing, and with it, the annoyance and frustration that comes from their malfunctioning.[35]

Are Optical Discs Becoming Obsolete?[edit | edit source]
You don't need this anymore

While Optical Discs may be excellent media of storage, their necessity has now come into question with the ever advancing of technology. Floppy disks used to be what everyone used to store information and that soon became obsolete. As the cycle of technology inevitably catches up to optical discs, they may no longer be as useful as before. First, there’s the rise of technologies that no longer make use of optical discs because of the size. Most tablets and laptops no longer having optical drives because they take up space and may make the device less portable. Next is the fact that there are many more storage options that have become available that are much more convenient. Cloud storage has been on the rise as well as regular flash drives have had an increase in storage capacity as compared to optical discs. Then there’s the fact that many media companies have moved to a disc free environment. Streaming services have made renting CDs and DVDs obsolete. Gamers no longer buy physical discs but rather just download a digital copy. Even music has moved to a streaming service that makes buying physical albums and LPs more of a novelty. Finally, there is the fact that consumers want what’s convenient and optical discs are no longer as convenient as they used to be. However which way you look at it, the advancement of technology will eventually make anything obsolete. The future holds many possibilities for other forms of storage and that too will eventually become obsolete.[36]

Smart Cards[edit | edit source]

Back of a smart card

A smart card is a credit card-sized piece of plastic that contains computer circuitry, like a processor, memory, and storage. Smart cards can only store low amounts of data, around 8 kilobytes of RAM or 346 kilobytes of ROM. The processor is actually a microprocessor, and it is situated under a gold contact pad on one side of the card. The processor in the card has the capability to encrypt the data so that only authorized access is allowed. The purpose of a smart card is to store sensitive data securely, usually identification or digital cash. Unlike a credit card where all of the information on it can be read easily and identity theft is more common, the smart card cannot be physically read and it puts up a difficult fight against a hacker trying to access the data. To make it even more secure, some smart cards actually store biometric data to even further ensure that only the correct user can use it. A smart card is used by sliding it through, placing it in, or placing it in front of a smart card reader. This allows for the smart card reader to interact with the smart card by transferring the data on the card. An example of this is having a smart card reader on a locked door. The authorized user, a government official, places their smart card in front of the smart card reader on the door and the data on the card would be read by the reader. Once the reader acknowledges that the government official is allowed in, the reader would unlock the door and the official could walk in. All in all, the smart card is a great new technology that is making transactions and equipment safer.[37]

Large Computer Storage Systems[edit | edit source]

The original storage system for major company Walmart

Major companies and organizations require large computer systems that can store their massive amounts of data. The amount of data that the world needs to store is growing at a phenomenal rate, predicted to increase by half in 2014 alone. Regulations have been put in place by the government to make companies keep data and information about clients and customers. This information is stored in the same types of hardware that everyday consumers would use but on a much larger scale. Many hard drives are connected and used together to increase the amount of data that can be saved. A leader in the industry, IBM, is currently at work on the largest storage server ever with an incredible 120 petabytes of space. This server is going to be comprised of over 200,000 standard hard drives connected in a large warehouse.[38] Some companies may also use a system called RAID, or redundant arrays of independent disks. This method uses two or more hard drives which contain redundant copies of the same data in order to process and access it faster. This can be done one of two ways. The first method, disk striping, actually separates and spreads the files out over multiple hard drives while the second method, disk mirroring, has an exact duplicate of the information on the first.

Review[edit | edit source]

  1. Read Computer Data Storage

Review Questions[edit | edit source]

  1. True or False; A magnetic hard drive uses flash memory.
  2. True or False; A Blu-ray disc offers a larger storage capacity than a DVD disc.
  3. True or False; Folders are places on a storage medium that hold files.
  4. True or False; Holographic storage uses lasers to produce three dimensional representations of data.
  5. True or False; NAS and SAN technologies refer to the same type of storage setup.
  6. A _____ is anything that is stored on a storage medium.
  7. A _____ _____ _____ is a type of flash memory device that is inserted into a USB port.
  8. Music and software typically use a _____ disc.
  9. Most computers use a _____ _____ as the primary storage system.
  10. A drive that uses optical discs is known as an _____ _____.

Answers[edit | edit source]

  1. False
  2. True
  3. True
  4. True
  5. False
  6. file
  7. USB flash drive
  8. CD
  9. hard drive
  10. optical drive

Glossary[edit | edit source]

  • BD-R a Blu-ray disc that is recordable
  • BD-RE a Blu-ray disc that is rewritable
  • BD (Blu-Ray disc) a disc with a high storage capacity of approximately 25 or 50 GB. Commonly used in HD movies
  • CD a disc with a low storage capacity of approximately 650 MB. Commonly used in music and software
  • CD-R a CD disc that is recordable
  • CD-ROM a CD that can only be read from but not able to write over
  • CD-RW a CD that is rewritable
  • cluster a sector that is the smallest addressable area of a disk
  • cylinder a collection of hard drive tracks
  • disk access time how long it takes to locate and read data from some storage medium
  • disk cache memory that improves the time it takes to read from or write to a hard disk
  • DVD a disc with a medium storage capacity of approximately 4.7 GB or 8.5 GB. Commonly used in software, movies and games
  • DVD-R/DVD+R a DVD that is recordable
  • DVD-ROM a DVD that can only be read from but not able to write over
  • DVD-RW/DVD+RW a DVD that is rewritable
  • embedded flash memory flash memory chips used in products
  • file anything stored on a storage medium
  • filename the name given to the file
  • flash memory nonvolatile memory that can be found in a computer or used in a storage medium
  • flash memory card a flash memory medium often found in digital cameras and other small devices
  • folder a named place on a storage medium where files are kept
  • hard drive a storage system found in most computers
  • holographic storage a medium that stores data in three dimensions using multiple blue laser beams
  • hybrid hard drive a hard drive with both flash memory and magnetic components
  • magnetic hard drive a hard drive with one or more metal magnetic disks, an access mechanism and read/write heads
  • magnetic tape storage media that stores data as a series of magnetic spots
  • network attached storage (NAS) a high-performance storage device individually connected to a network to provide storage for computers on that network
  • online storage remote storage devices accessed via the internet (i.e. cloud storage)
  • optical disc a storage medium that reads and writes using a laser beam
  • optical drive a drive used with optical discs (e.g. CD, DVD, BR)
  • RAID (redundant arrays of independent disks) the configuration of several hard drives working together to improve performance and/or reliability
  • remote storage a storage device that not directly connected to the computer that uses it (e.g. cloud storage)
  • sector a small piece of a track
  • smart card a small card-sized circuit piece that can store data
  • solid-state drive (SSD) a hard drive that uses flash memory (rather than metal magnetic hard disks)
  • storage area network a network of hard drives or other devices that provide storage for a computer network
  • storage device hardware in which a storage medium is inserted to be read from or written to
  • storage medium the part of a storage system where the data is stored (e.g. CD)
  • track a circular path on the surface of a disk where data is recorded
  • USB flash drive a storage device, that uses flash memory, that is inserted in a USB port

References[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia Computer Data Storage [7]

Input and Output

Keyboards, Pointing, and Touch Devices[edit | edit source]

Keyboards[edit | edit source]

Keyboards are one of the many different types of input devices, and one of the most common. Most, if not all, keyboards are set up in an alphanumeric key arrangement, also referred to as a qwerty keyboard.[1] There are a few different ways a keyboard can connect to a computer, either wired or wireless, via USB or Bluetooth respectively. For the most part all keyboards are similar to one another, some may have extra keys for games and others may have a numerical keypad built into the board itself.

Logitech Gaming-Keyboard G15

While not all computing devices have keyboards they do have supplements, such as a on-screen touch keyboard. Many phones used to have a slide out keyboard for those who prefer an actual physical keyboard. But technology has moved toward touch screen phones which don't require the slide out keyboard. Examples include the Apple iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy. Furthermore, you can purchase physical keyboards to connect into tablets. All of these additional keyboards that you could add to devices are most likely membrane keyboards. Membrane keyboards are the cheapest and most common types of keyboards. The other growing type of keyboards are mechanical keyboards. When you type on a membrane keyboard you complete a circuit which produces the data on screen, which generally makes little to no sound and gives no tactile feedback. For many gamers and avid typist, they would use a mechanical keyboard, which has the point of contact directly beneath the each key. This gives a better tactile feedback along with a faster typing speed, but generally cost much more than membrane keyboards.[2]

The keyboard is one of the most important parts of a computer!

Different Types of Keyboards[edit | edit source]

The purpose of all keyboards is to input data, however, there are as many different types of keyboards as there are variations of devices that need one. At first, there was only one design for a keyboard, but just as all other technology has progressed with time, so has the keyboard. The “original” keyboard, known as the standard keyboard, is the QWERTY keyboard, which is probably the most familiar to people. This keyboard has an average 105 keys, and while minor changes have been made to the design, its overall format has stayed the same.[3]

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000

Due to the stress put on the wrist and hand muscles from typing, the ergonomic keyboard was invented. This keyboard has the keys split so that the angle of the user’s wrist is in a more comfortable and less-straining position. By improving posture, the Ergonomic Keyboard is supposed to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It comes either as one separate board with pre-angled keys, or as two separate boards so the user can angle them any way he/she prefers.[4]

The other types of keyboards that have come along have been produced to fit very specific uses. For example, a gaming keyboard, as the name suggests, is made specifically for gamers and has special designs such as built-in joysticks. Another example is the internet keyboard, which have “hot keys” related directly to browsing the internet. These hot keys include bookmarks list, e-mail inbox, Google search, and YouTube.[5]

Lastly, there are keyboards made simply to be more convenient for the consumer. These include the wireless keyboard, which connects to a computer via Bluetooth, the compact keyboard, made for laptops and other portable devices, and the virtual (or touch screen) keyboard which is found mostly on mobile devices and tablets.[6] The last one is the most recently developed and will most likely come to be the only type of keyboard in the future.

The History of Keyboards[edit | edit source]

The first keyboards were called QWERTY keyboards named after the six letters in sequential order on the top left hand side of the keyboard. Surprisingly, the keyboard was actually designed to make typing as slow and difficult as possible. This is due to the fact that the very first design of the first typing machine developed by a man named Christopher Latham Scholes back in 1873 was originally set up in alphabetical order. After some time, it was typical for keys to get jammed together due to fast typing. This prompted Scholes to redesign the machine with the letters most commonly used as far away from each other as possible to avoid jamming. By making the user slow down, his new design became a success. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that a couple by the name of Bob and Joan Crozier came up with the idea that there was a need to integrate computer technology into business. At that time, there were only large mainframe computers available. The couple came up with a device that had keyboard switches, which led to more understanding about the growing need for such a device. By the 1970’s, the first keyboards were born. They had to be put together one switch at a time which was a lengthy process. Later in this decade, the first ever personal computers were developed. The keyboard was not attached to these computers so they required an IBM electric typewriter to be attached. By the 1980’s, IBM launched its first personal computers with their famous model M keyboards attached. This model came with some problems as it was criticized for its Enter and Shift keys being too small. IBM came up with keyboard expanders to fit the keyboard and enlarge the keys. By the 1990’s, Membrane switches became available to replace individual keys. This was also the decade that the laptop computer became available, making Membrane Switches to increase in popularity. The last decade has seen advancement in the design of the keyboard with the release of ergonomic keyboards that lessen the chance for a user to be injured due to overuse. Today, the modern keyboard faces extinction as the use of touch screen devices and voice recognition are taking the center stage of computer input.[7]

Point and Clicks[edit | edit source]

Inside a Wheel Based Mouse

Pointing devices are inputs that connect to a desktop or laptop and are used to move an on-screen pointer, usually an arrow, to allow the user to select objects on the screen. The most common of these is the "mouse" which derives its name from its size, shape, and "tail", or thin wire, which connects it to the computer. It's usually connected via a USB port and it often rests next to the keyboard for easy access. Recently, laser "mice" have become popular due their added mobility as these connect via Bluetooth or other wireless connection and no longer need their "tails" for support to the system. Older mice have a ball at their base and use this to move the pointer on screen as the user's hand moves the mouse across the desktop surface. Once the pointer is over the desired icon, link, or image, etc. the mouse is used to interact with it by clicking one of the two buttons on its surface. A wheel may also be found on some and is commonly used to scroll up or down a page or zoom in and out of a window. Optical mice use a laser on the bottom which track movement with light instead of a ball. Three dimensional mice may also be used to interact with three dimensional programs. These programs tend to recognize more complex movements and the mouse may be lifted to simulate flying or angled to simulate a visual tilt within the program.

Stylus[edit | edit source]

stylus pens

In addition to using a mouse, many computing devices allow for the use of a pen or stylus. The pens input could be drawing, writing, or tapping on the screen. The stylus is often just a piece of plastic solely used to touch the screen, and that’s it. However, other stylus pens can detect the amount of pressure that is applied to the screen allowing you to have a more precise input. The stylus has a smooth rounded tip so it would not harm the screen it is used with, and may also contain buttons so it could be similar to a mouse and execute similar functions. The stylus is used in a way similar to using pen and paper. It is used in areas like photography, graphic design, animation, industrial design, and healthcare. There are even certain gestures that a pen can read to complete a task. Flicking the pen up, for instance, could delete something, print, or copy. Stylus pens are beneficial for people with long nails, or are wearing gloves; there's nothing more annoying than having to take off gloves in the winter to have to use a touch screen device. Many smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 have a pen stylus included. These phones allow the user to use the screen to its fullest since the screen is so large, the phone embraces being able to use two hands while doing something on the phone.[8]

Touch Screens[edit | edit source]

Interactive table, Ideen 2020 exposition, 2013.

Touch screens are electronic visual displays which allow a user to interact with programs by using simple touch-based movements. Through the use of a special stylus/pen and/or one or multiple fingers, the user can interact with the content being displayed in multiple ways allowing actions such as scrolling, zooming, rotating, dragging, and dropping items to be handled with ease without the need for a pointer or mouse. Because the touch screen interface can be used with practically any PC software and is useful in a variety of applications, mobile phones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and surface computers have taken advantage of this technology. It can be found in museums, consumer kiosks, newsrooms, automated teller machines (ATMs), medical field, etc. There are many touch screen technologies that have different methods of sensing touch, such as resistive, surface acoustic wave (SAW), capacitive, infrared grid, infrared acrylic projection, optical imaging, dispersive signal, and acoustic pulse recognition. They can recognize multiple inputs allowing for more than one person to operate the device at the same time as well as verify and pinpoint multiple objects that are place on them or near. Systems that use a stylus can recognize the differences in pressure applied to the screen and may even contain buttons to aid in "right-clicking" on an object.[9] The stylus is one of the most popular accessories in the touch-screen age.[10]

Fingerprint Scanners[edit | edit source]

A popular security option, which is now becoming standard on laptops and certain external hard drives, is fingerprint scanners. Small "touch screens" are placed adjacent to keyboards (or in the case of hard drives, on top of the hard drive) to prompt users to use their finger print as a means of secure login. Until recently, such hardware was expensive and unreliable. This means of input has been adapted by certain companies to increase security measures and provide peace of mind to clients (often in the case of physical cloud security). This technology was science fiction until recently and it has caught on in government use all the way down to the individual.

Other Pointing Devices[edit | edit source]


Examples of other pointing devices can be seen in gaming. A popular pointing device in video games is the joystick. Joysticks are moved by hand to point to an on-screen object, such as a character, and then a button or buttons are pressed to execute an action, for example jumping. Gamepads are also examples of pointing devices, performing similar functions to the joystick but held fully in hand instead. Another example of a pointing gaming device is a proprietary controller, such as the Wii remote. These devices are motion sensitive and require the controller to point into a sensor, which will move accordingly with an on-screen pointer. A trackball is a pointing device consisting of a ball in a socket, similar to an upside-down mouse, that the user rolls with the thumb, fingers, or palm. Trackballs are commonly seen on CAD workstations for ease of use. Control buttons and wheels are pointing devices commonly found on handheld gaming devices or portable digital media players. For instance, on an ipod, the user can spin the wheel to scroll through songs, and then click on the desired track. Touch pads are generally rectangular pads that a user can slide a thumb or fingertips across. Tapping the touchpad executes the same action clicking a mouse would. Touch pads are typically found on laptops and notebook computers. [11]

Specialized Pointing Devices[edit | edit source]

An ETC Ion Lighting Console. The control wheels are visible above the LCD screen

Depending on the device and applications being used, pointing devices can become quite specialized. Theater lighting boards have several different ways to input information due to the vast amount of equipment they can control. These can vary from joysticks to the more common control wheels. These wheels tell the lighting fixture to cycle between colors, change effects, and move on at x/y axis graph displayed on a screen. Besides lighting boards, flight simulators can have numerous input devices, most of which are customized to do a certain task. A number of manufacturers build throttle quadrants and aircraft yokes for use in home simulators. These devices can be set up in minutes, and mimic the movements of the actual aircraft controls. Airlines and colleges take this a step further, using immersive simulator that enclose the operator and mimic the movements of an aircraft in flight. In these simulators, the entire enclosure is one large input device, with each button and knob controlling some function. In addition, an instructor has a workstation where they can input commands and load scenarios to test the person flying the simulator. The full motion simulators used by airlines to train flight crews are perhaps the most complicated computer input devices.

Scanners, Readers, Digital Cameras[edit | edit source]

Flatbed Scanner

Scanners[edit | edit source]

A scanner is a device that copies a picture in digital form. After capturing the image, the data is transferred to the computer. People use scanners to store their hand held pictures in their computer, and one might scan a document for business, school, etc. The two main types of scanners are flatbed and portable scanners. A flatbed scanner is the most common type of scanner which is designed to scan flat objects. A portable scanner is designed for travel purposes.[12]

Drum scanner

A sheet fed scanner is much like the flatbed scanner, only this may now be immobile and be used in stores to scan items on shelves. Optical scanners capture the image of a usually flat object and transfer it to a computer, much like flatbed scanners. In order to produce a better quality image, as most people strive for in their printing, you need a higher resolution scanner. The resolution of a scanner is measured in dots per 12-inches, which makes sense because the more dots you have, the more color that shows up, producing higher quality scans. Along with the resolution of a scanner comes the quality, which can be edited and improved once the image is scanned. If the user wants an extremely detailed scan, the drum scanner is a great tool to make this possible. It uses a photomultiplier tube to scan on a glass cylinder and send light rays in three beams, making light and color change and producing greatly detailed images.[13] There are even apps on our phone that we can personally scan documents to have on-the-go. The problem with this, however, is privacy issues and the crisis of having your phone or any other device stolen which has scanned any personal information. While scanners are a tremendous help especially in businesses, it is important users be aware of the risks and use with caution.

Although digital cameras are considered standard today, many individuals still have negatives from their days of using a film camera. This traditional film can easily be digitized using a specialized film scanner. Increasing the resolution will allow for higher quality reproductions of the images. [14]

Readers[edit | edit source]

Readers are designed to read the coding of different products. Readers are also called a "price scanner." It is usually a hand held device that captures the barcode on a certain tag, sticker, or twitter/facebook code. UPC (Universal Product Code) and ISBN (International Standard Book Number) are the two most famous barcodes. Barcodes are essential for efficiency in different businesses.[15]

Barcodes use lines to represent the numbers 0-9. They can be quite long, signifying a long string of numbers. These unique number combinations represent a variety information. Barcode readers interpret the bars in the code using reflected light or imaging technology. Once the bars are interpreted, the information that is tied to the number can be retrieved. The scanners can be stationary, like those found in stores, or portable, like those used by delivery services to scan packages.

Example of QR code

QR Codes and RFID tags[edit | edit source]

QR codes, otherwise known as quick response codes, are pattern display bar codes read by an imaging device, that enable a user to automatically scan and open to an encoded hyperlink by using their “smart device”. QR reader applications on devices enable the user to access the hyperlink. The hyperlink opens up to a URL on the user’s device, displaying an image, or website. QR codes are often used by companies to allow the most efficient, least expensive way of advertisement for their product, company, event, website, etc. These codes enable a potential customer or user to access their information with convenience. QR codes are also used in other aspects to identify time tracking, item identification product tracking, as well as document management.[16]

QR Codes are an expansion on traditional barcodes. Traditional barcodes are one dimensional, while QR codes are two-dimensional. Storing data both horizontally and vertically allows for a significant increase in combinations of information.

Example of a QR Code

"QR Code" is a type of matrix bar code originally created in 1994 by the Toyota Automobile Company. They were used during the manufacturing process in place of traditional bar code labels, which offer significantly less room to store data and were frequently damaged. Since the rise of smartphones (and downloadable QR scanning applications), they have experienced unprecedented growth in popularity and success from advertising/marketing, and have in a sense revolutionized these industries. QRCs save businesses money by offering an affordable and personalized way to promote their goods or services. Perhaps most importantly, however, is that they provided a new way for customers everywhere to access information quickly and easily. [17]

RFID codes, otherwise known as the Universal Product Code, in which the barcode is replaced by radio frequency identification tags, which allows communication between network systems that can track certain data or information. RFID codes are commonly used in our economy today in multiple different ways. Similar to QR codes, RFID codes allow users to gain efficiency in terms of time and convenience. Ways that RFID codes are used in our society consist of the following: inventory tracking, ticketing applications, mobile payments, as well as border security.[18]

Digital camera
Disassembled digital camera

Digital Cameras[edit | edit source]

Almost every American owns a digital camera to save their memories! Digital cameras are used to take a picture, and these pictures are usually stored in a memory card. When purchasing a camera, it is important to know how many mega pixels the camera contains. For example, the higher the megapixels, the better the quality of the picture will be. However, usually, the higher the mega pixels, the more expensive the camera will cost. People enjoy cameras because the pictures are almost immediately accessible.[19]

Professional video camera

Today, digital cameras are often found integrated into various mobile devices.[20] When it comes to smartphones, the camera is often one of the most marketed features of the device. For instance, when shopping for a smartphone online, a website will often have an image that compares a picture taken by various competitor’s phones. The reason these cameras on smartphones are marketed to this extent is because they offer so many advantages to an average everyday consumer. A camera with the capability of snapping nice pictures allows someone to easily share daily activities to social media, scan barcodes at the grocery store, provide post-accident evidence for insurance, and so much more.[21]

While a digital camera can snap still images, a digital video camera can record videos. Although portable digital camcorders are slowly becoming unpopular in the market, other types of these cameras are used every day.[22] For example, these cameras are often used by buildings for surveillance, television networks for broadcasting, and companies for video conferences.[23] However, each type of camera used in these situations are different. Cameras used for security purposes are usually able to operate remotely, and are often found to be smaller than other cameras so that they are more inconspicuous. Television networks use expensive professional cameras which have many different function and are very high performance. Cameras used for video conferencing are often webcam cameras. These cameras are small, usually portable, and can be integrated with a laptop.[24] Overall, the digital video camera is a useful tool in today’s society.

One of the main appeals of digital cameras is the instant gratification of seeing the image immediately upon taking it. The instant gratification comes at a small price, however, because there is a slight delay between the pressing of the button and the actual taking of the photograph.

Biometric Readers[edit | edit source]

A U.S. soldier using a biometric eye scanner.

Biometrics are objective, measurable, biological traits that can be used to identify somebody.[25] Biometric identification is becoming more and more common, and individuals can be recognized by a computer based on everything from their eyes to their fingerprints, from their voice to their face, from their unique body odor to the shape of their ear. Some uses of biometrics include fingerprint scanners to protect sensitive information stored in databases at places like nuclear power plants, biometric identification at borders and on passports, identification at nightclubs to ensure people who have been banned can't enter, and even at public schools to have stronger records of attendance and library book borrowing.[26] While biometric authentication is incredibly useful, there can also, obviously, be strong privacy concerns if their use is becoming too common. However, an organization called the Biometrics Institute is seeking to not only advance the use of biometrics but also ensure that all privacy concerns are addressed as this kind of technology becomes more and more common, with a set list of privacy guidelines that should be met whenever and wherever biometric identification is being employed.

Audio Input and Output[edit | edit source]

Audio Input[edit | edit source]

Microphone used to input audio into a computer

Audio input is when audio data is put into a computer. Usually the audio that people put into computers is voice or music. Voice input is when words are spoken into a microphone on the computer and they are translated into the digital form via the microphone. Many people will use a sound recorder software to store the voice in a file. One thing that is becoming better known is speech recognition systems. An example of speech recognition being used is when you call a company and an automated voice recording answers and you speak to them and answer their questions and the computer is able to recognize what you are saying and take you where you need to go.[27] Many phones have speech recognition software that allows the user to speak their text message or anything else into their phone and the phone can type the text for them. However these programs are not perfect and they usually require the speaker to talk slowly and clearly. One new technology that is being developed has to do with computers picking up noises the hard drive is making and detecting if there are any problems. One way to input music into a computer is to input it from a CD. They also have keyboards that can be plugged into the computer and the sound can be inputted into the computer. With that technology they can also show the sheet music that was played.[28]

Speech Recognition[edit | edit source]

There are many different ways in which speech recognition systems work. One type of system is a speaker-independent speech recognition software which works no matter the user. Another type of system is a speaker-dependent system in which uses training to analyze a specific users voice. The system is then able to adjust to nuances in a persons voice and fine-tune the speech recognition. Another system is voice-recognition systems which are very similar to speaker-dependent systems in that they are dependent upon the speaker, but instead, they mostly focus on who is speaking rather than what they are saying. These types of systems are primarily used in personal security systems. Speech-recognition software is used to ease the users use of the computer and allow users the freedom of not having to use a keyboard or mouse to navigate through a computer system. Speech-recognition software can be used to perform many tasks including opening applications, making calls, calculating the amount of teaspoons in a cup, and even finding the nearest Chipotle. Today, the use of speech recognition systems are greatly advancing due to their incorporation in mobile devices such as Apple’s Siri and Windows Cortana. Also, speech recognition software has been included within the makings of cars due to regulations that require drivers to use hands-free devices to avoid distraction from the road.[29]

Parc Asterix 22

Speech detection and speech analysis are being used in robotics and automatic translation, access control systems and education, but not only a human speech is a subject of recognition. The created sound recognition software has a great scientific and practical value. A broken window, dolphin’s talks, faulty machinery unit, even flowing blood could be recognize due the sounds they make. Growing sound libraries and improving electronic equipment allows actively apply sound recognition technologies in areas such as industrial automation, home improvement, animal bioacoustics, medical bioacoustics and others. People use speech recognition to let computers understand them and use computers for sound recognition to better understand the world. [30]

Audio Output[edit | edit source]

Audio Output-Speakers

Audio Output is exactly how it sounds. These are the sounds heard while working on a computer, that incorporates voice, music, and other audio sounds. The most common type of audio output device are speakers. These are used to hear video games, music from iTunes [31] or YouTube,[32] TV shows on Netflix,[33] Web conferencing, and other types of programs. Most computers have the capability to add additional speakers for better sound quality. The speakers are usually included when the computer is bought. Other speakers vary in a broad span of prices. A subwoofer can be added to amplify the computer’s audio output. Subwoofer’s have low-pitched audio frequencies known as bass and are intended to strengthen the low frequency range of loudspeakers covering higher frequency bands.[34] They can be installed in automobiles and computers. For portable laptops and mobile devices, the speakers are built into the device. Some desktop computers have speakers permanently installed to the monitor. A unique example of audio output is a treadmill. Some treadmills have the ability to play music from an iPod or MP3 dock, which makes working out more enjoyable. With our rapidly growing and expanding market, recently many car companies have included headphone jacks, dock connections, or USB ports to connect an iPod or mobile device. These connections make it easier for the driver to listen to their own music from their iPod, instead of the radio or CD’s. Headphones can be used as audio outputs as well, instead of using speakers. Using headphones helps users not to disturb others around them (in a library or school).

Display Devices[edit | edit source]

Display Device Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Old Philips Television Set
Cathode Ray Tube

There are many different characteristics of display devices. These include display colors, monitor styles, resolutions, video compatibilities, and the extra abilities these devices may have. Most devices today have color displays but there are a few which still follow a monochromatic color scheme. The Nook eReader is one of these devices. There is also a difference in the type of monitor in the way it is illuminated. The older style devices such as the large, clunky, heavy tv's and computer screens are lot with cathode-ray tubes (CRT) and because the tubes take up so much room, the devices needed to be much larger. Today most of our devices are flat-panel displays. These displays use a chemical or gas reaction between two thin clear pieces of material to create their display; this is why they are able to be much thinner and lighter than CRT devices.[35]

Buyer beware, when buying a new device keep in mind that the monitors are measured diagonally. So that new 7" tablet you are looking at on Amazon is 7" diagonally from corner to corner. If you expect the 7" to be the width, you will be sorely disappointed by the smaller device you receive.[36] Keep in mind also that resolution is important. The more information that can be shown in less space, the clearer the image and higher the resolution will be. Video is input through a video card which holds the GPU inside of it. The video card is used to translate the video datas into an images that will appear on your monitor. It uses a fairly large amount of RAM to do so. There are many ways of connecting video devices to computers, and one of those actually allows the addition of extra monitors to an existing computer allowing for double the screen space. Other interesting features of display devices include the ability to hold a charge (temporarily) on their own and become known as wireless, display images in 2D or 3D format, become much more mobile and even wearable (such as a virtual reality simulator headset), as well as register commands based on touch and motion (e.g. iPhone, iPad, Android phone, and most other "smart" devices today).

Data Projectors[edit | edit source]

With a data projector, this heartwarming picture can get a whole classroom teary-eyed.

While your computer has many talents and uses, sometimes it might seem as if there's not enough of it to go around. Let's say that there's a hilarious cat video on Youtube that you'd like to share among thirty of your best friends but there's not enough room for them all to huddle close before your glowing monitor. Instead of splitting the viewing party up in groups, you can use a data projector. A data projector lets you display what's on your computer monitor onto a wall or projection screen.[37] The image is blown up so all your friends can now laugh in unison as the Youtube cat extends its paws in surprise. Even if you didn't know the name for it, chances are that you've encountered a data projector sometime in your life, especially if you attend public school. They can transfer data from computer to projection screen either with a cord or through a wireless connection. For those of you who like to share on the go, there are even portable projectors called pico projectors that can provide a lesser quality but more accessible presentation.[38]

Flat Display Devices[edit | edit source]

Flat display devices have become increasingly popular over the years because of their slim design and accessibility. Monitors today must be able to provide full color and gray scale, high efficiency and brightness, the ability to display full-motion video, wide viewing angle, and a wide range of operating conditions.[39] Consumers today want these devices to be thin and light weight, be insensitive to magnetic fields, and not produce any x-rays. All of these attributes are not possible with the cathode ray tubes that are generally found in older televisions or monitors. There are electroluminescent displays, plasma display panels, vacuum fluorescent displays, and field-emission displays all being sold today. The first are used in industries and medical fields because of how durable they are under many temperatures. Plasma displays are usually used in televisions. Vacuum fluorescent displays are used for low information displays like on appliances or small electronics. Liquid-Crystal Displays (LCDS)are the most commonly manufactured displays at this time.

Unlike the old TVs with a "fat" back, the newer LED TVs are much thinner and energy efficient.

Without even realizing it, we are constantly surrounded by items containing an LCD since they are much thinner and lighter than other displays. Laptop computers, digital clocks, microwave ovens, watches, and many other everyday items all have an LCD. A liquid crystal display works by blocking light as it uses charged liquid crystals that are located between two glass sheets to light up the appropriate pixels using a backlight provided by fluorescent lamps. Conveniently, LCD panels typically already contain those lamps at the rear of the display, hence the term backlight. However, to preserve more energy, today’s new technology has invented light emitting diode displays (LEDs), which are now replacing the fluorescent lamps that were previously used.

LEDs are another flat-panel technology seen in many objects around us like alarm clocks, Christmas lights, and car headlights, etc. An advantage of an LED over an LCD is that they are a lot thinner, have brighter images, color, and quality than an LCD, or even Plasma. Also, since an LED does not require backlighting from fluorescent bulbs, which have a relatively short lifespan, it tends to have a much longer lifespan. As fluorescent lamps burn out more quickly, LEDs are better to use for applications that require turning on and off frequently. Another benefit of LED monitors is the fact that they consume much less power compared to LCDs; LEDs actually consume almost half as much power than an LCD consumes! [40]

Color generation for an IMOD display

A new flat-panel display technology is the interferometric modulator display. This display uses a reflective membrane and a thin-film stack, which sit on a transparent substrate, to reflect external light onto the display. The device uses the interference of light wavelengths to create the different colors necessary for color images. This new display technology is meant to be used for portable devices and new mobile phones. The reason for this is because the display consumes a very little amount of power. By only using external light, the device would not need to continually backlight the display. In fact, the only time the display would need to consume power is when changing the image. This allows for the image to stay open without losing any power for the device, something we all have to deal with everyday on our mobile phones. Another plus for the IMOD display is that the images will stay clear even when in direct sunlight, because it is actually using that sunlight for the image. This is definitely an advantage for anyone who has noticed how hard it is to use a portable device or mobile phone outside when it is sunny. The IMOD display technology is a very energy efficient technology that needs to be utilized in mobile phones and portable devices to help consumers with their issue over battery consumption.[41]

Video Adapters, Interfaces, and Ports[edit | edit source]


The graphics processing unit (GPU) is the chip devoted to rendering images on a display device. Devices either have a video card or an integrated graphics component built directly into the motherboard or the CPU. The GPU is located in the video card or the graphics component of the computing device. This is what determines the quality of the image that can be shown on a monitor. Video cards will usually contain a fan to cool the card. Video cards will either have a memory chip or they are designed to use a portion of the computer’s regular RAM as video RAM instead. Video cards contain between 256 MB and 2 GB of video RAM. The two most common types of interfaces used to connect a monitor to a computer are HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) and DP (DisplayPort). However, there are still the use of older connectors which include VGA (Video Graphics Array), and DVI (Digital Visual Interface). These are the ports that can be found on a computer to connect it another device, such as a TV screen or a projector. Today, HDMI and DP are widely used not only by large companies, but also by the general public. This allows for high quality connections and single wire capability for interconnect devices, regardless of who makes the computer.[42]

Virtual/Augmented Reality Devices[edit | edit source]

Boy wearing Oculus Rift experiencing Virtual Reality

One of the recent advancements is that of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality devices. These devices display information by immersion rather than by just displaying it on a screen. First, the distinction between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is that the former completely immerses the user in a different “virtual” environment while the latter adds or displays information to the current and existing environment. So while virtual reality brings you into a theatre, augmented reality brings the movie to your wall. Both of these are implemented through various devices. There are head-mounted displays. These are displays that are usually worn by the user and are seen through in order to experience either virtual or augmented reality. Those that do virtual reality usually cover the eyes so that the user is completely blocked out of the real world and can be fully immersed in virtual reality. Those that make use of augmented reality are usually see through since the objects are displayed in the real world environment. Then there are hand-held displays which usually only do augmented reality. These usually make use of the devices camera and screen in order to show virtual objects in the real world.[43]

Printers[edit | edit source]

dot matrix
inside of laser printer

Printers today can be divided into two main categories: impact printers and nonimpact printers. Impact printers (known as dot matrix printers) are the traditional printers that actually strike the paper with ink. Their primary uses are for the production of business forms like packing slips and receipts. On the other side are nonimpact printers. These printers do not touch the paper like impact printers, and there are two common types: laser and inkjet. Laser printers use ink powder or toner and inkjet printers use liquid ink, which both create the images with dots (similar to pixels on a monitor). These dots make up the print resolution, which is known as the dpi (dots per inch). The higher the resolution the sharper the image. General ranges for a dot matrix printer are 60-90 dpi, an inkjet 300-720 dpi, and a laser printer 600-2400 dpi.[44] With that, color printers and black-and-white printers are two standards found in either the home or office setting. Typically for home-use color printers are more common than offices, which will use black-and-white printers due to costs (unless the company needs color for specific materials and products like reports or brochures).

Advantages of laser printers include higher resolutions of the image, faster printing speed, and no smearing. However laser printers are more expensive than inkjet printers, which many people use because they are lower in cost yet still produce high quality images and remain relatively fast in operation. Besides these two types, the advantages of impact printers are their low printing cost per page, their ability to print on multi-part forms and their reliability. However these printers are much louder as well as slower than inkjet and laser printers.[45]

Personal printers and network printers are distinguishable by their connection to either a single computer or a home/office network. Network printers allow multiple computers to print from the same printer, which is why they are a standard in the business setting. Typically personal printers have a rate of 20 to 35 ppm (pages per minute) whereas network printers can print from 30 to 65 ppm.

Printers can connect via USB, wired or wireless networks, or connections from other devices such as memory cards or cameras. It is not uncommon to see printers that have multiple capabilities like copying, scanning and faxing. These inkjet or laser printers are known as multifunction devices and they can come in color or black-and-white options.

Laser Printer

Laser printers[edit | edit source]

Why choose laser printer over any other printer? Well, Laser Printers are known to be good for their speed, precision and economy. Since it uses a laser, it can print one page at a time so it’s known to be significantly faster than the ink-jet printers. Although they are more expensive than ink-jet, they seem to be more cost-efficient considering ink is more expensive than toner powder, which is used for laser printers. Laser printers are more reliable with their prints because ink-jet printers tend to leave ink smears. Static electricity is the primary principle in making the printer work, which is an electrical charge built up on an insulated object. It uses objects with opposite static electricity forcing the fields to cling together.

Laser printers can work in either black-and-white or in color. To print on a page, a piece of paper must be first be inserted into the loading tray of the printer. A laser beam electrically charges the drum in the necessary locations that the microprocessor in the computer has decoded based on the image being printed. The ink used is a fine powdered ink known as toner, which is applied while the paper rolls over the drum. The paper finally goes through a fusing unit which permanently binds the toner to the paper. [46] [47]

Ink-jet Printers

Ink jet printers: Why choose Ink-jet printers? Well, ink-jet printers create pictures by spraying ink from the printhead onto the page. Depending on the printer there’s different sized ink droplets, nozzles and electrical charges for more precise printing. They are typically slower than laser printers because of the back and forth motion of the ink tray. Ink-jet printers have grown in popularity and performance while dropping significantly in price. These dots are thinner than a strand of hair and when different colors combined together to create photo-quality images. [48]

3D Printer

Special-Purpose Printers: Though almost every household has some sort of either ink jet printer or laser printer, there are also numerous special purpose printers out there that are made to perform a specific task. Many companies invest in these products to improve time and cost efficiency. Some examples of these printers are photo printers, bar code, label and postage printers, portable and integrated printers, and 3D printers. -Photo printers, as the name quite obviously gives it away, are used for the purpose of printing merely pictures. Often times, people invest in these printers because they produce a better quality picture than just a typical everyday printer would. They also have certain capabilities and apps that one would not just find on any printer. -Businesses are also often found using bar code, label, and postage printers for their products. Every sellable item needs a product label, and having a printer that is designed just for that saves both time and money. They are also useful for the electronic postage capabilities, saving companies time on the mass amount of envelops that they send out on a daily basis. -If you are an on the go businessman or woman, a portable or integrated printer is the way to go. With so much travel and back and forth, it is easy to pull out these commutable printers and print the documents or images you need on the fly. -Finally, possibly the newest and most up and coming printer is the 3D printer. This useful tool can be utilized for printing models and samples. It prints using plastic, and literally produces a finalized 3D prototype of what you want. With technology rapidly improving, more and more products are being designed for the purpose of cost and time efficiency. Depending on what you do on an every day basis, it may be a very wise choice to invest in one of these printers to save you valuable time and money in the long run. [49] -3D Printers

A 3D printed Beethoven.

3D printers use virtual designs created in advanced programs such as CAD (Computer Aided Design) or scanned using a 3D scanner to print out physical models and parts. In order to do this, the software must “slice” the model into thousands of layers that the printer lays down one at at time. There are various kinds of manufacturing methods, such as FDM where material is melted into layers or SLS printing where powdered material is sintered into layers.[50] 3D printing has many applications, especially in design. Even manufacturers now use the printers to create rapid prototypes for research. This saves companies both money and time since changes only need to be made the design file on the computer.[51]

There are different 3d printing methods that were developed to build 3D structures and objects. Some of them are very popular nowadays, others have been dominated by competitors. Most of popular types of 3d printers are:

- Fused deposition modeling (FDM) - 3D printing machines that use FDM Technology build objects layer by layer from the very bottom up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filament.

- Stereolithography (SLA) - SLA 3D printers work with excess of liquid plastic that after some time hardens and forms into solid object.

- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) - Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a technique that uses laser as power source to form solid 3D objects. The main difference between SLS and SLA is that it uses powdered material in the vat instead of liquid resin as stereolithography does.

- Selective laser melting (SLM) - Selective laser melting (SLM) is a technique that also uses 3D CAD data as a source and forms 3D object by means of a high-power laser beam that fuses and melts metallic powders together.

- Electronic Beam Melting (EBM) - The same as SLM, this 3d printing method is a powder bed fusion technique. While SLM uses high-power laser beam as its power source, EBM uses an electron beam instead, which is the main difference between these two methods. The rest of the processes is pretty similar.

- Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM) - During the LOM process, layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic or metal laminates are fused together using heat and pressure and then cut to shape with a computer controlled laser or knife. [52]

Review[edit | edit source]


barcode A machine-readable code that represents data as a set of bars.

computer speakers Output devices connected to computers that provide audio output.

CRT monitor A type of display device that projects images onto a display screen using a technology similar to the one used with conventional TVs.

data projector A display device that projects all computer output to a wall or projection screen.

graphics tablet A flat, rectangular input device that is used in conjunction with a stylus to transfer drawings, sketches, and anything written on the device to a computer.

handwriting recognition The ability of a device to identify handwritten characters.

headphones A personal audio output device used by an individual so only he or she can hear the sound

ink-jet printer An output device that sprays droplets of ink to produce images on paper.

keyboard An input device containing numerous keys that can be used to input letters, numbers, and other symbols.

laser printer An output device that uses toner powder and technology similar to that of a photocopier to produce images on paper.

liquid crystal display (LCD) A type of flat-panel display that uses charged liquid crystals to display images.

monitor A display device for a desktop computer.

mouse A common pointing device that the user slides along a flat surface to move a pointer around the screen and clicks its buttons to make selections.

multifunction device (MFD) A device that offers multiple functions (such as printing, scanning, and faxing) in a single unit.

optical character recognition (OCR) The ability of a computer to recognize scanned text characters and convert them to electronic form as text, not images.

organic light emitting diode (OLED) display A type of flat-panel display that uses emissive organic material to display brighter and sharper images. See organic light emitting diode (OLED) display

photo printer An output device designed for printing digital photographs.

pixel The smallest colorable area in an electronic image, such as a scanned image, a digital photograph, or an image displayed on a display screen.

pointing device An input device that moves an on-screen pointer, such as an arrow, to allow the user to select objects on the screen.

printer An output device that produces output on paper.

radio frequency identification (RFID) A technology used to store and transmit data located in RFID tags.

scanner An input device that reads printed text and graphics and transfers them to a computer in digital form.

speech recognition system A system, consisting of appropriate hardware and software, used to recognize voice input, such as dictation or audio computer commands.

stylus An input device that is used to write electronically on the display screen.

touch pad A small rectangular-shaped input device, often found on notebook and netbook computers, that is touched with the finger or thumb to control an on-screen pointer and make selections.

touch screen A display device that is touched with the finger to issue commands or otherwise provide input to the connected device.

Review Questions[edit | edit source]

The vocabulary may or may not be listed above. What am i?

1. The smallest area of an image in which makes up a whole image.

2. Two of the most familiar_____are UPC and ISBN.

3. A device that is designed to convert physical form to data.

4. With a typical ____________ the sounds are broken into digit representation of Phonemes.

5. An output device that uses toner powder and technology similar to that of a photocopier to produce images on paper.

6. The device that shares the information on a screen.

7. The ability of a device to identify handwritten characters.

8. A personal audio output device heard by an individual.

9. A display device that projects all computer output to a wall or projection screen.

10. An input device that moves an on-screen pointer, such as an arrow, to allow the user to select objects on the screen.

Answers[edit | edit source]

1. Pixel 2. Barcodes 3. Scanner and Camera 4. Speech Recognition System 5. Laser Printer 6. Monitor 7. Handwriting Recognition 8. Headphones 9. Data Projector 10. Pointing Device

References[edit | edit source]

  20. Understanding Computers: Today and Tomorrow Comprehensive 14th ed. by Morley & Parker
  21. Understanding Computers: Today and Tomorrow Comprehensive 14th ed. by Morley & Parker
  23. Understanding Computers: Today and Tomorrow Comprehensive 14th ed. by Morley & Parker

System Software

[General referenced 1]

Systems Software Overview[edit | edit source]

Ubuntu 12.04 is an example of a OS

System software can be separated into two different categories, utility programs and operating systems. Operating systems are the foundation of your computer and almost every electronic device. The OS boots up the computer and makes sure everything is operational. The OS is also what runs your cell phone and most of your electronic devices. In most cases, the OS is the GUI (graphical user interface) that displays all your applications. Without the operating system, you can't use your computer. There are many different types of OS’s which are discussed later. Utility programs perform a very specific task, to either enhance or manage your computer. For example your virus protection program, like Norton[1], is an example of a utility program along with the install/uninstall program that comes standard with Windows.

Systems Software vs Application Software[edit | edit source]

Systems Software[edit | edit source]

The operating system is a type of system software kernel that sits between computer hardware and end user.[2] Systems Software are applications that are designed specifically for running the hardware on a personal computer and are used to maintain a platform for Application Software to be used. This means that systems software is designed to communicate with the internal parts of your computer such as the hard drive, RAM, ROM, cache, microprocessors, etc. so that the user doesn't have to. It contains all of the drivers necessary for this type of communication and, in the simplest sense, it is the interface between the user and the hardware.[3] The Operating System (OS) is not only one of the most important systems software on a computer, but is also the most frequently used. It is the software that runs in the background and brings the separate physical parts of the computer together in order to provide the seamless stream of activity that a user experiences. Some of its responsibilities include the transfer of data between the memory and disks (on the hard drive) as well as providing the information needed to display icons, text, cursors and other visible necessities on the display screen. This display is called the graphical user interface (GUI) and is entirely the result of the OS on the computer. This can be compared by viewing the differences between the Ubuntu OS and the Mac Snow Leopard OS. The icons between the two are positioned differently and they look different too. The Mac OS and GUI tends to have a more three dimensional aspect to it where Windows tends to appear more flat. It is worth noting that the operating system behaves independently of the user and any applications being used. Some other systems software would include BIOS and other device firmware. These help the user interact with other utilities such as diagnostic tools, language translators, data communication programs, as well as data management programs. [4]

Application Software[edit | edit source]

Application Software are the most common programs that run in the foreground of the computer. They tend to perform useful tasks which are not associated with computer maintenance, system boot-up, or hardware communication. Application software is directly reliant on the Systems Software to communicate to the physical components of the computer and cannot operate without it. If you were to visualize this, the application software will run on top of the system software, most interactive to the user, while the system software will remain unnoticed in the background. The system software communicates with the hardware, passing any information from the application software to it, and vice versa. Application Software are the most familiar forms of software and come in a variety of types. In most cases, they can be accessed through the GUI of the operating system used, by double-clicking on an icon. Some of the common include word processors, spreadsheets, photo-editing programs, database programs, and accounting programs to name a few. This list is by no means exhaustive of the possible uses of applications, and many more programs are constantly being created to help individuals with their daily activities.[5]

The Operating System[edit | edit source]

A computer would not be able to function correctly without an operating system. An operating system is a software program that empowers the computer hardware to communicate and operate with the computer software.[6] An operating system is one of the most important parts of a computer. The operating system is able to do basic tasks as well as complex tasks. An operating system can be classified as a multiuser, multiprocessing, multitasking, multithreading, and real time. The operating system makes sure that different programs, and users running at the same time, do not interfere with one another. The owner or owners of a computer interacts with the operating system through a set of commands. All application programs need an operating system. Also, operating systems optimizes one’s computer performance. Most of the work that is involved in the operating system is unnoticed because it does the work behind the scenes. This system is in charge of managing one’s network connections. Considering all the new technology out, operating systems must be uploaded in order to support the new technology being uploaded to computers. All in all, the operating system is the core of all computers.

Multitasking and Multithreading[edit | edit source]

Multitasking is a computer's ability to seemingly run multiple tasks or processes at the same time. For example, you might have an Internet browser open to read this page while also having a word processor open to take notes and a media player open to stream music. In reality, however, the computer is not actually able to process multiple tasks simultaneously; rather, it switches between them at incredibly quick speeds to give the appearance of working on them simultaneously. CPUs have become faster over time, which allows computers to increasingly run more applications at the same time and switch between them more quickly and seamlessly. If computers could not do this, a user would have to painstakingly close an application any time he or she wanted to do anything in another application.

Continuity is a new form of multitasking. Continuity was a new feature that came together with Apple’s iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. It lets you seamlessly move between your compatible Apple devices or use them all simultaneously. Continuity includes features such as Handoff, Phone Calling, Instant Hotspot, and SMS. Handoff is a feature wherein you can start work from one device then continue on another. For example, you may be working on a document on your Mac but then suddenly you have to leave the desktop. With Handoff, you can simply continue your work on the iPad while you are away from the desktop. Phone Calling is simply phone calls on your computer or tablet when they are connected to your phone through the same Wi-Fi network. This allows for instant responses to calls without having the need to use your phone. Instant Hotspot is where your iPhone can provide internet access to your other devices. Finally, SMS allows you to send and receive text messages to and from your computer or tablet. This allows for you to seamlessly answer messages without even lifting your phone. Continuity is basically taking the concept of multitasking and simplifying it by using multiple devices instead of using multiple CPUS.[7]

Multithreading, on the other hand, is a computer's ability to perform multiple operations within a given task at seemingly the same time. Again, the processor is not actually able to do multiple things simultaneously, but it is able to switch between different actions so quickly that, for all intents and purposes as far as the user is concerned, it is doing them simultaneously.[8] As programs work on behalf of the initial request for that thread and are interrupted by other requests, the status of work on behalf of that thread is kept track of until the work is completed[9]

Functions of the Operating System[edit | edit source]

Some of the primary functions of the operating system include creating an interface for the user and the computer to interact, booting up the computer, configuring devices, managing network connections, and managing the jobs of the computer.

Process Management[edit | edit source]

A process is a program that is being executed. A process requires certain resources, including CPU time, memory, files, and I/O devices, to complete its task. The operating system is responsible for the creation/deletion, suspension/resumption, and providing communication mechanisms for processes.[10]

Main-Memory Management[edit | edit source]

Memory management is the process of controlling and coordinating computer memory, assigning portions called blocks to various running programs to optimize overall system performance.[11] The Operating System is responsible for maintaining bookkeeping information, mapping processes to memory locations, and allocating memory space as required.[12]

User Interface[edit | edit source]

Graphical User Interface

In order for computers and users to interact, some sort of user interface must be provided. User interfaces can be based on text, such as the original DOS that was used in the 1980s and 1990s, or it can be based on graphics. Most personal computers and mobile devices today use a graphical user interface, also known as GUI, which uses visuals such as icons, desktops, pointers, and menus for users to utilize. Basic forms of graphical user interface include the use of checkboxes, lists, and other fundamental forms of input. Examples of graphical user interfaces include Windows, Mac OS, and many other modern operating systems. The user interface ("UI") refers to the part of an operating system, program, or device that allows a user to enter and receive information. [13]

Booting the Computer[edit | edit source]

BIOS chip

Another function of the operating system involves booting up the computer. This process occurs when a CPU containing a bootstrap processor (BSP) (or a specifying one if in a multi-core processor) boots the basic input/output system (BIOS), which contains a set of instructions that tell the computer how to boot. The BIOS chip tells the computer to look for a boot loader. The boot loader's job is to start the operating system by finding the kernel containing it and loading it into memory. The BIOS also performs a power-on self-test (POST). The power-on self-test ensures that all of the computer's functions and components are working properly before booting.

Operating Systems for Personal Computers[edit | edit source]

Printed spool half

Buffering and Spooling[edit | edit source]

The part of the operating system used mostly with printers is buffering. This part can be in the RAM (Random Access Memory) or the hard drive. This area is meant to hold the input and the output during their way out of the system[14]. Although many people are familiar with buffering having to do with loading while streaming videos and music, it can also be referred to as a temporary form of memory[15]. While a buffer is doing its job, the CPU can change data before relocating to any other devices. When items are placed into a buffer waiting to be regained, this is called spooling. Along with buffers being used with printers, spooling often refers to print spooling. Many college campuses have print spooling, which enables one printer to have multiple print jobs sent to it at one time. These multiple documents can be sent all from the same computer or more than one. While this spooling occurs, there is a print queue that all documents waiting can be stored until they are printed. Spooling is a very useful tool because while one device may not run as fast, it provides documents with a waiting area in the meantime.

DOS[edit | edit source]

DOS (Disk Operating System) was the dominant operating system for microcomputers in the 1980s and the early 1990s. The first version of DOS was developed for IBM. DOS is a rather simple operating system but it does not utilize a graphical user interface and it does not support modern processors, which is why it is no longer used[16]. Some computers can still run the DOS commands but the user needs to know how to input the commands using the Command Prompt window.

This non-graphical operating system was originally written by Tim Paterson and was introduced in August 1981. The last DOS system to be released was the MS-DOS 6.22 in 1994. The DOS system used a command line, instead of a GUI (graphical user interface), to allow the user to navigate, open files, and perform other functions[17]. Today, people use a mouse to navigate the computer and carry out commands, but with the DOS there was a command-line interface which had specific commands put in a prompt, which then brought up whatever file or program was prompted. Later, software programs with menu-based or icon-based interfaces were created for convenience. While the DOS systems are not used anymore, the command shell, now called the Windows command line, is still used today[18]. It is expected that as these operating systems gain market share, DOS will eventually disappear. In the meantime, Caldera, Inc. markets a version of DOS called DR-OpenDOSthat extends MS-DOS in significant ways[19].

Windows[edit | edit source]

Windows is a series of operating systems that is designed by Microsoft. The first two versions of the Windows operating system, introduced in 1985 and 1987 respectively, were primitive. Windows 1.0 had only basic functions such as MS Paint and a word processor and Windows 2.0 had very rudimentary versions of Word and Excel. Windows did not become popular until its third release in 1990. Windows 3.0 had enhanced graphics, the ability to “multi-task”, and (for the first time) virtual memory. This version was so popular that it stayed on the market for eleven years. The next big improvement came with Windows 95, which expanded from 16-bit to 32-bit (short for binary digit). Windows 2000 was known for its increase in plug-in devices that were congruent with the operating system. Windows XP, or Windows 2001, included a comprehensive help center to allow users to utilize different types of media and was designed mostly for user ease and convenience[20]. The main feature of Windows Vista is the Instant Search at the bottom of the start menu. Then Windows 7 came out and the improvements were mainly to make it faster and easier to use. The most recent version of Windows is Windows 10. Windows 10 came out late July 2015. The new Windows will allow you do to more than one thing at once. It also allows for a new way to search and there is a way to open the Windows store from your home page.[21]. Windows is the most commonly used operating system and is used on about 90% of all personal computers.

Mac OS[edit | edit source]

Apple Corporation’s registered operating system is called Mac OS. There are many different branches stemming from the Mac OS X family. It was primarily based off of UNIX because of its standard interface and graphics look. Mac OS X Snow Leopard was the primary operating system, followed by the making of Mac OS X Mountain Lion, which is the newest and greatest version of Mac Operating Systems. Mac OS has capabilities of multithreading and multitasking. It also has a 64-bit processor that runs with applications used with 64-bit software. The many great features of Mac OS X creates an easy working environment for students, teachers, and parents to easily access many files. Mac OS is also known for its great graphic features that are popular to artsy users. The Launchpad and Mission Control with the bird’s-eye view of the Dashboard and desktop make opening applications easier for users. Apple launched a new operating system in 2014 titled OS X Yosemite, which features a redesigned interface as well as multiple ways for users to perform activities across their Apple devices[22]. In 2015 El Capitan was released, followed by Sierra in 2016 and High Sierra in 2017.

UNIX[edit | edit source]


UNIX was trademarked in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs as a multitasking, and multi-user computer operating system. UNIX can support systems ranging from microcomputers to mainframes, along with various devices. Because UNIX is used for an assortment of categories of computers, this is a great advantage. However, it is more expensive than most operating systems, and is very difficult to maintain upgrades. UNIX is widely known for its simplicity and ease while working on the computer, therefore different companies use a spin off of UNIX as their operating system, like Mac OS X. UNIX has just celebrated their 40th anniversary of being a business Unix combines the worldwide single Unix specification with X/open company’s XPG4, IEEE’s POSIX standards and ISO C. Single UNIX Specification defines this product in four parts specification, product, trademark, and technology allowing it to still be successful even though it was separated from AT&T and found its own angle. It allowed for one open consensus specification that is the requirement for the UNIX systems. UNIX was one of the first operating systems to be written in a high-level programming language and could possibly be installed on any computer. This high-level programming language was also developed by Dennis Ritchie at the Bell Labs, which allows a more flexible language to be used in various applications thus being very beneficial for businesses. It being inexpensive allowed for many people to be a big fan of UNIX and actually many universities use it for that reason. It never really took off in the home computer business but for workstations it tends to be the number one choice. The source language was open so if anyone got a hold of it they could change it to fit their own needs the best.

Linux[edit | edit source]

Tux-Linux logo

Linux is an open- source, portable, multi-user (multiple users can access system resources like memory/ ram/ application programs at same time), multiprogramming, operating system that was first released by Linus Torvalds in October 1991. It is very similar to other operating systems, such as Windows and OS X [23]and a source is available to the public, to which users can download Linux via the Internet and have the capability to run another operating system on their PC or Mac. No other company has done this before. The system has primary three components: Kernel (the core part of Linux), system library (special functions or programs), and system utility (responsible to do specialized, individual level tasks). Linux is one of the leading operating system on servers, mainframe computers and supercomputers. > Linux is used on a lot of popular electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablet computers, network routers, facility automation controls, televisions and video game consoles. The system is widely used by local and national governments. The US Navy’s newest warship that is armed with missiles and robot guns is powered by Linux,[24] Spain is using Linux in education, and China uses Linux to achieve technology independence. Collaborators of Linux are continually making improvements to the system.

Chrome OS[edit | edit source]

Google Chrome OS
Google Chrome OS

Chrome OS is an open-source operating system created by Google to create a better computing experience for people who spend most of their time on the web. [General referenced 1]On June 15, 2011, Chrome OS was launched to the public with the first Chromebooks, notebooks using the Chrome OS, created by Samsung and Acer. Today, Chromebooks are created by a number of other computer companies including HP, Toshiba, Asus, and Dell. The main reason the Chrome OS differs from other operating systems is that it allows for user data and applications to reside in the cloud, taking up less space on the computer hardware. By not storing files and data on the system it allows the Chromebooks to boot up faster. Which in return helps prevent viruses; making it an overall more secure and efficient laptop. Because of this, many Chromebooks only contain the same amount of memory and RAM as the average smartphone, Google, however, supplies each user with one-hundred gigabytes of Google Drive cloud storage for up to two years.

Acer AC700-1099 Chromebook 2013-12-22 00-39

There are many things one should consider when purchasing a computer. One of the biggest factors one should be aware of is what operating system the computer uses. Different operating systems have different features to suit the user’s needs. If one is looking into a smaller laptop computer, they might consider a Google Chromebook, which uses Chrome OS. It is a good idea to look into the pros and cons of a computer’s operating system before making a purchase. Like all operating systems, Chrome OS has both advantages and disadvantages. One positive feature is that Chrome OS is based on Linux, which is virtually virus free, which means users will be safer from threats. Another great feature is its ability for fast boot times, generally loading in just under ten seconds. It also allows for different users to configure it differently according to their needs, and saves each person’s data separately, creating privacy for each user. One of the cons of this operating system is that it does not allow installation of new apps. Users must use web-based apps instead, which they can get in the Chrome Web store. Another feature that the Chromebook is lacking is a user friendly printing option. In order to print something, one must have a Cloud Print Ready Printer. It lacks the convenience to simply plug it in to an existing printer and print, which could become an annoyance. Another feature that may seem inconvenient is that Chromebooks require internet access to do most of its work. Users that have tasks such as editing video or making movies may find that a Chromebook is not for them. It seems there are advantages and disadvantages for Chrome OS, and one should take them into consideration when deciding which operating system will suit their needs best.

Operating Systems for Mobile Phones[edit | edit source]

There are many different operating systems for mobile phones and devices but most six stand out as being most used. These are Android, Asha, Blackberry, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows RT.

Assorted smartphones.
Assorted smartphones.

Android[edit | edit source]

One of the most widely used mobile OS these days is Android. Android Inc was founded in Palo Alto of California, U.S. by Andy Rubin, Rich miner, Nick sears and Chris White in 2003. Later Android Inc. was acquired by Google in 2005.[25] It is a Linux based operating system that is designed primarily for touch screen mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. The operating system has developed a lot in the last 15 years starting from black and white phones to recent smart phones or mini computers. After original release there have been number of updates in the original version of Android. The android is a powerful operating system and supports a large number of applications in Smartphones. These applications are more comfortable and advanced for the users. The hardware that supports android software is based on ARM architecture platform. The android is an open source operating system which means that it’s free and any one can use it. The android has millions of apps available that can help you managing your life in one way or another and it is available at low cost market making android very popular to its consumers. Android's worldwide market rose significantly and now reaches 87.9% of the global smartphone market share as of 2017.

Asha[edit | edit source]

Asha is used by Nokia phones. These smartphones are on the lower end when it comes to software and component capability. Because of the low capability, Nokia smartphones are usually the cheapest which makes them able to compete with higher end smartphones.

Blackberry[edit | edit source]

Star C6000

Blackberry's operating system is called BlackBerry 10. This is a closed source operating system for smartphone and tablet devices. The newest operating system developed by Blackberry for tablet devices is BlackBerry Tablet OS. The BlackBerry operating system has all of the same features a smart phone does: email access, web browsing, phone calls, play music and video, and send and receive text messages. Most models are not touch screen, with the exception of the Storm and the Torch. Instead of a touch screen, a trackball or track pad is the hardware used for navigation. Because there is no touch screen, the operating system does not require that much battery life to process so the phone stays on longer than others. [26] The BlackBerry also has multiple buttons (similar to the image on the right) including a BlackBerry button, back button, call and end button, 1 or 2 convenience keys, and a full keyboard. The BlackBerry button is designed for easy integration, such as sharing a photo via email. This system is geared toward communications rather than games and apps. It features an email software that “pushes” email directly to the user’s phone, which saves battery and provides the most current information. One drawback to this type of smart phone is how limited the customization is. Only the wallpaper and the function of a few buttons can be changed. It also does not feature “widgets” or a wide selection of apps like the android phones do. Overall this operating system is easy for productivity, but falls behind its competitors in a wide selection of applications.

iOS[edit | edit source]

iOS is Apple's operating system for Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and second-generation Apple TVs. This operating system is closed source and not until iOS 2.0 were third-party applications officially supported. Prior to this update, jailbreaking was the only way to allow third party applications access to a user's iOS device. As of September 2015, iOS is in its 9th iteration. It was introduced at Apple’s product convention in the fall of 2015 in conjunction with the new iPad. iOS is known for a colorful graphics, and an easy to understand user interface. This being said, it was created as an OS for mobile devices, and thus was designed primarily for consuming content as opposed to creating content. As Apple’s new iPad is designed for both consuming and creating content, iOS needed to be upgraded accordingly. The latest version includes the ability to split screen multi task on to applications at the same time, similar to a laptop. In addition, it includes new built application as well as upgrades to existing applications. Apple Maps now includes public transportation, and more apps can integrate with the cloud. Siri, a “personal assistant” has also been upgraded to do more tasks, and to integrate with additional apps, such as Pictures. Finally, there are new multi touch gestures built in to the system. These assist the user in typing, editing projects, taking notes, emailing and other tasks typically associated with a laptop computer. Generally, iOS 9 is built to create content rather than simply consuming[27].

IOS 9 Logo

Windows Phone[edit | edit source]

Windows Phone is developed by Microsoft as a closed source operating system for mobile phones. It allows users to access Microsoft SkyDrive, Office, Xbox, and other Microsoft programs remotely. Windows Phone devices are made mostly by Nokia, HTC, Samsung, and Huawei. On April 14, 2014, Microsoft released its newest mobile operating system, Phone 8.1. The new operating system contained new features including Cortana, a personal assistant similar to Apple’s Siri. The OS also featured upgrades in security, performance, and boot time.

Windows RT[edit | edit source]

Windows RT logo

Windows RT was also developed by Microsoft but was designed for mobile devices and tablets. This close sourced operating system closely resembled Windows 8, an OS developed by Microsoft for desktop computers and laptops. Windows RT was discontinued in 2015[28].

Symbian OS[edit | edit source]

This was the logo for the now declining empire known as Symbian OS.

There was one OS that used to tower above all the rest, before recently falling completely out of the race thanks to increasingly competitive and more simplistic operating systems. The name of this OS is Symbian, and between 2000-10 it ruled supreme thanks to its partnership with Nokia, a company that excelled in moving large units of inexpensive cellphones. The Symbian company had risen from the ashes of a failing PDA company named Psion, changing its focus to mobile OS development with funding from entities such as Motorola and Ericsson, while the largest funding share always came from Nokia. Unfortunately, between the more complex code (which contributed to development periods that were unthinkable in comparison to what Windows and Mac were developing) and Nokia changing their allegiance to Windows, Symbian said its final goodbye in mid-2013. Any individuals or companies still attached to the Symbian OS will be offered support for a few more years, but they will need to consider their options now instead of waiting for the last minute. Luckily, as can be seen from the plethora of options above, Symbian users can surely pick an OS that is the closest to the quality programming to which they had grown attached.[29]

Mobile Device Systems[edit | edit source]

Below are three very popular mobile phone/device providers today. They are Windows, Android, and Apple. The three use different operating systems.

Windows is full of change. Most people have used Windows on their personal computers, but did you know it is also integrated into our GPS systems, ATMs, and even robots? Windows mobile devices include things called tiles which are icons for different things stored in the device itself. Related tiles can be put together in hubs. Windows devices also offer integration with windows office software (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.). They also include integration with Xbox Live. [30]

Android: Android was created by a group of 30+ mobile technology companies and is based on the Linux operating system. These devices offer the ability to multitask with a split thing (doing two things on the same screen verses switching between tasks). The screen will contain multiple applications that can be bought and downloaded (some for free) from the Android Market.[31] Android software will update regularly and is intended to fix any potential bugs, as well as loading any new features.

iOS (Apple): This system is based on Apple's Mac OS X. Similar to the apps of the android system, apple products also contain apps but they are downloaded and purchased from the App Store. There are over 900,000 apps currently available. These devices are also synced to your iTunes account allowing you to upload your music to their devices as well. Some things that are specific to these devices are their Safari web browser, FaceTime, and the ability to track your device through the "Find my iPhone" app. [32]

Utility Programs[edit | edit source]

1328102004 Defragmentation

In general, the utility program is defined as special software written to take care of the operating system maintenance and management to keep the performance of a computer system at the appropriate level. The utility programs could be a part of operating system or a product of third party developers. Whether you want to install programs or move file to a different folder, search for a document or set the connection to the network, you are using the utility program tools. Another important improvement the utilities can help you with is your hard drive performance. Disc check, disc clean up and disc defragmentation programs alone with a files compression utility will let you keep your storage organized and reduce the time of the searching, retrieving and displaying information you requested. The last but not least task the utility programs are being applied for is the operating system and your data protection. The backup and recovery programs let us be sure that we will not lose all data in case of system malfunctions and will be able to return back to restore point, when the system was working properly, while the antivirus, antispyware and firewalls – utility programs – will protect the computer from data theft.


File Management Program[edit | edit source]

They organize files and are available for the user to access them. There are 6 important concepts that the file management programs have. To start off, it has a navigation system that gives the user access to the file hierarchy and be able to find their work. The actions to proceed are using the “up” and “down” to navigate through the folders and “go to” to reach their data. Another function is the operations functions which allow the user to interact with the files. The common functions along with this are as follows: open, save, close, copy, move, delete, rename, new and share. The user would obviously be concerned about the security of their files. With this being said, the files can be blocked with a login procedure which will only give people that know the username and password access to the file. To keep your file program organized, it is necessary to maintain the storage on the program in which you should delete any unneeded files. For the conveyance to the user, there is a communications function in which there are links available in order to send out a file to a given location. Lastly, there’s a search function in which you can find a particular file you are looking for.

Search box

Specifically, the Search Tool is very useful for the user. As explained previously, it will find a particular file by simply using the file's name. There are programs that will search the data by key words but it seems to be more beneficial to know the username instead of the program searching all the documents for key words, which may lead to a longer search than intended. [33] Also, a file can be searched based on other reasons, including if it is kept in a certain folder, if it has certain characters in its file name, if it has metadata tags, or if it is a specific type of file. If you do not know, a metadata tag includes information about the file, like its author, artist, or keyword. The program being used can set this automatically or it can be manually set to fit your needs. Also, the types of files that can be searched are documents, spreadsheets, videos, or songs. These search tools can be integrated into the operating systems that your computer is designed to run, or you can download them off the Internet for free or at a low charge. Some Internet based search tools, called desktop search tools, can find certain Web pages, messages sent over the Internet, or certain e-mails. A few of the websites that provide these services are Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Other search tools that you can download off the Internet serve specific purposes, like finding duplicate files on your hard drive. This can come in handy when your computer’s hard drive storage is running high. In conclusion, the search tool utility program provides you with great accessibility to your files and documents when you don’t have time to spare. [34]

Diagnostic and Disc Management Programs[edit | edit source]

With technology playing such an important role in our everyday life, it is important to make sure that it is maintaining itself and running properly. Instead of having to go through and check every aspect of the computer ourselves, computers come with built in diagnostic management program and disc management programs. Diagnostic management programs deal with making sure that everything on the system is working the way it should be, while disc management systems programs worry about the hard drive operating correctly. Most computers come with the basics of this software already built in, however some people prefer to go outside of what they already have and purchase more protection and security for their computer. These programs keep your computer running quickly, optimally, and effectively on a daily basis.[35]

Deleting Unneeded Files

Uninstall and Cleanup Utilities[edit | edit source]

You would think that once a program or application is deleted, no trace of it would be left behind; however, this is very often not the case. In many instances, traces of that file, program, or application are still left embedded into your hard drive. In order to fully get rid of them, people often use something called uninstall utilities. These programs go through your hard drive and remove any unneeded space, memory, or left over remnants from that application that once existed. Many computers come with this option already installed, which makes keeping your computer updated and up to speed an easy task. Clean up utilities are very similar to uninstall utilities; however, instead of going through and deleting old applications and programs, they go through and clean up your computer by deleting temporary files.[36]

The floppy drive that holds one of the original computer worms released into the Internet

File Compression Programs[edit | edit source]

File compression programs are designed to reduce the size of files, which allows the user more storage space. For Windows users, these compressed files usually have the .zip or .zipx file extension. The most popular programs are Winrar, Winzip and 7-Zip.[37] For Mac users, these files usually have the .sit or .sitx format. Programs that are commonly used are RAR Expander, StuffIt Expander and MacZip. Some programs have the option of encrypting the zipped files, meaning that a password is required to open the file. This can help those who want to protect their files for themselves or specific users who are granted access. Overall using file compression programs is an efficient way to free up storage space for other computer tasks. The gzip program is a popular file compression program that compresses and decompresses files using Lempel-Ziv coding (LZ77). [38]

Backup and Recovery Utilities[edit | edit source]

Over time one might experience the unfortunate event of a power outage or some other event that leads to the corruption of important system files. For example a storm can cut the power in an instant, which turns off the computer in an unsafe manner thereby leading to the corruption of the operating system and possibly even hardware. The system now is damaged, and this is an important reason why backing up is necessary. Businesses understand this, so it is extremely unlikely for a one to not backup its data on a regular basis because the possibility of losing just a segment can be catastrophic. The Windows Backup program (Windows) and Time Machine program (Mac) are included with their respective operating systems, but software programs exist that can be used for free or a price.

Antivirus, Antispyware, Firewalls, and Other Security Programs[edit | edit source]

Malware consists of viruses, trojans, worms, spyware and other forms that disrupt computer operation. As mentioned, malware can infect computers in many ways, whereas the affected suffers while the infector gains. To protect against these threats, it is highly recommended to take advantage of the utility programs offered by the operating system as well as software programs. Popular antivirus programs for Windows include AVG, Norton 360, McAfee, Kaspersky and Microsoft Security Essentials. A firewall is used to monitor network ports by controlling inbound and outbound traffic to the network.[39] Its primary purpose is to defend the computer from malware and hackers, but it can also interfere with programs that must access the Internet. It will also not remove malware if it has infected the computer; it only blocks the malware from entering.[40] Spyware is software that tracks personal information unknowingly from the user, which can lead to serious problems.[41] It is important to know the software one is downloading and to understand its license agreement and privacy statement (to see if unwanted software is included).

Review[edit | edit source]

Review: Key Terms[edit | edit source]

Android: A Linux-based operating system designed for mobile phones and developed by the Open Handset Alliance, which is a group of companies led by Google.

application software: Programs that enable users to perform specific tasks on a computer, such as writing a letter or playing a game.

BlackBerry OS: The operating system designed for BlackBerry devices.

command line interface: A user interface that requires the user to communicate instructions to the computer via typed commands.

buffer: An area in RAM or on the hard drive designated to hold input and output on their way in and out of the system.

device driver: A program that enables an operating system to communicate with a specific hardware device; often referred to simply as a driver.

file compression program: A program that reduces the size of files, typically to be stored or transmitted more efficiently.

graphical user interface (GUI): A graphically based interface that allows a user to communicate instructions to the computer easily.

kernel: The essential portion, or core, of an operating system.

Linux: An open source operating system that is available without charge over the Internet and is increasingly being used with mobile devices, personal computers, servers, mainframes, and supercomputers.

mobile operating system: A type of operating system used with mobile phones and other mobile devices.

server operating system: A type of operating system designed to be installed on a network server.

Symbian OS: An operating system historically used with mobile phones, primarily outside North America.

system software: Programs, such as the operating system, that control the operation of a computer and its devices, as well as enable application software to run on the computer.

utility program: A type of software that performs a specific task, usually related to managing or maintaining a computer system.

virtual memory: A memory-management technique that uses hard drive space as additional RAM.

Windows: The primary personal computer operating system developed by Microsoft Corporation; the most recent version is Windows 7, with Windows 8 expected to be released in 2012.

Windows Embedded: A family of operating systems based on Windows that is designed for nonpersonal computer devices, such as cash registers and consumer electronic devices.

Windows Phone: The version of Windows designed for mobile phones; the current version is Windows Phone 7.

Windows Server: The version of Windows designed for server use; the current version is Windows Server 2008 R2.

Review Questions[edit | edit source]

1. A computer's __________ is a collection of programs that manage and coordinate the activities taking place within the computer and it is the most critical piece of software installed on the computer.

2. _______ refers to the ability of an operating system to have more than one programs open at one time.

3. A _______ is an area in RAM or on the hard drive designed to hold input and output on their way in or out of the system.

4. The process of placing items in a buffer so they can be retrieved by the appropriate device when needed is called _______.

5. The older DOS operating system and some versions of the UNIX and Linux operating systems use a __________, although versions of UNIX and Linux are available with GUIs.

6. Operating systems used with personal computers are typically referred to as __________ and they are designed to be installed on a single computer.

7. There have been many different versions of ________ over the years; the next few sections chronicle the main developments of this operating system.

8._________ is an operating system developed by Linus Torvalds in 1992 when he was a student at the University of Helsinki in Finland.

9. The mobile operating system designed for Apple mobile phone and mobile devices, such as the iPhone and the iPod Touch, is _______.

10. Creating a _________ means making a duplicate copy of important files so that when a problem occurs, you can restore those files using the backup copy to avoid data loss.

11. Linux is an operating system developed by Linus Torvalds in 1991 when he was a student at the University of Helsinki.

Answer Key for Review Questions[edit | edit source]

  1. operating system
  2. multitasking
  3. buffer
  4. spooling
  5. command line interface
  6. personal operating systems
  7. windows
  8. Linux
  9. iOS
  10. backup
  11. True

Review Reference[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  14. Understanding Computer Today and Tomorrow 14th Edition Comprehensive
  38. "Man Page for gzip (freebsd Section 0)". 2001-05-24. Retrieved 2015-02-21.

Application Software

Application Software Basics[edit | edit source]

Google Drive Logo
Commercial Software-Microsoft Office

Application Software is a single or group of programs that allow access for specific tasks to be performed. Users of a computer should familiarize themselves with the variety of applications that are available. The purpose of computer applications is that it can greatly simplify a task for a user. Ways applications can help are to create and modify word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentations, along with graphics and multimedia. [1]

Installed vs. Web-based[edit | edit source]

Dropbox is a web-based software

There are two different types of application software: installed software and web-based software. Installed software must first be installed to the computer before it can be used. When you purchase an installed software, the company can either send you a physical copy of the software, usually in the form of a CD, or you might also have the option of downloading the software from the companies webpage. Web-based software is software that remains on the internet which you can use at an on-demand basis. Web-based software is also referred to as Software as a Service or Cloudware. Some web-based softwares include Google Docs, Dropbox, Prezi, and many others.[2]

Advantages and Disadvantages[edit | edit source]

  • Web-based Software (advantages)
  1. Global access
  2. Able to run regardless of what operating system the computer has
  3. Back-ups/Updates are managed
  • Web-based (disadvantages)
  1. Higher chance of lost data
  2. Slower productivity
  3. More expensive overtime
  • Installed Software (advantages)
  1. Data secured
  2. Internet not required
  3. More control
  • Installed Software (disadvantages)
  1. Limited access
  2. Must be installed on each computer
  3. Possible large upfront costs


Creating Application Software[edit | edit source]

With the ease of access to data, internet, and software becoming more popular on devices such as iPads, tablets, smartphones, etc. applications are not only being utilized, but first, they must be created. In order to simplify the process of creating and establishing an application, one must learn computer coding.

You must learn to code in order to make applications

The two most popular software marketplaces as of right now are that of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. In order to create apps for the App Store, one must have a Mac computer to run the programming tools. One must then pay Apple to sign us as a developer in order to download those tools. The programming language used in those apps is called Objective-C. To create apps for the Play Store, one must have either a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. The software development kit is free to download and you will need to know the programming language called Java.[4]

Software Ownership[edit | edit source]

After an application software program is developed, the author has what is called ownership rights. These rights specify exactly how the program can and cannot be used. For example, ownership rights allow the author to decide on whether or not the program can be sold, shared, or distributed. The ownership rights vary depending on the type of software. Types of software include commercial, shareware, freeware, and public domain.[5] Commercial software is software that is created and then sold for profit. For example, Microsoft Office Suite is commercial software. Shareware is another type of software that can make profit, however, shareware is initially free and then requests payment after a certain amount of time. For example, a computer game might have a ten day free trial, but after the trial is over the developer will ask for a payment. This payment would allow the gamer to play the computer game on a regular basis. Freeware is a type of software that is available for no charge by the developer. An example of freeware would be Internet Explorer and most other web browsers. Public domain software is similar to freeware, but should not be confused. While freeware is copyrighted, public domain software isn’t. Because public domain software isn’t copyrighted, people are able to copy, modify, and distribute the software.[6]

Software Suites[edit | edit source]

The logo for Adobe Creative Suite v6.0, one example of a software suite.

A 'software suite, also known as application suite or productivity suite, is a group of related programs that interact together and are purchased together. The most well-known example is Microsoft Office, which includes Excel (spreadsheets), Word (documents), PowerPoint (slideshow), and Outlook (email). There are two primary benefits of software suites:

Enhanced Productivity

  • It makes it easier for the user to work on multiple related projects at once. Someone can, for example, make a spreadsheet in Excel and then bring it into Word, keeping all of the formatting intact much more easily than if they used an unrelated spreadsheet program and text editing program.

Saves Costs

  • Purchasing the entire Office suite is much cheaper than purchasing Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook separately. However, a user may not need all of the programs in a given suite, so buying the entire suite when only one or two programs are needed is not an ideal purchase; If not all of the programs are needed, then it would be more prudent to individually purchase the programs which are needed.[7]

Word Processing[edit | edit source]

Constructing a Word Processing Script[edit | edit source]

When constructing a word document there are a few things to keep in mind; character formatting, paragraph formatting, and page formatting. These three basic functions lay the foundation for most of the customization that is needed to create many word documents.

  • Character Formatting

Character formatting changes the appearance of individual characters and relates to the size, font, color, and overall style of the letters or numbers being used. Character formatting also involves underlining, italicizing, and making bold those characters being used. This is great for making a word stand out or for underlining book titles.

  • Paragraph Formatting

Paragraph formatting adjusts the spacing, alignment, and indentation of the paragraphs being formed. Spacing refers to the amount of lines left blank in between the lines being processed. A good example of this is double-spacing which is commonly used in an educational setting where a student has to write a paper for a specific instructor. Commonly double-spacing is used so that the instructor can make corrections to the document without having to mark over the actual words on the paper. Alignment refers to the way the paragraph is positioned in regards to the left and right margins. A left alignment is most commonly used when creating a word document and this setting aligns the words being formed to be flush with the left margin. A center alignment is usually used for titling a paper.

  • Page Formatting

Page formatting refers to the width of the margins, the size of the paper being used, and the orientation of the page. The standard margin is 1.25 inches on both the left and right but these can be customized to suit need and preference. The paper size options reflect what can be used in the printer, and the orientation indicates whether the document will use the traditional or landscape positioning on that paper. Traditional orientation is 8.5 inches wide by 11 inches tall whereas landscape is the exact opposite at 11 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall.[8]

Word Processing Tools[edit | edit source]

Some of the basic tools that are employed in word processing programs that help to make the application more user friendly are tables, graphics, and templates. These tools allow for minimal effort and excellent results when adding features like these to a word document.

  • Tables

Tables are used for organizing information and are composed of rows and columns in which data is placed. This is great for comparing and contrasting information as it's condensed and presented in a straight forward fashion. Tables can also be used for laying out entire documents, such as a resume, where information is sectioned off from one another. In this example, the entire report is formulated to a table instead of a small section as mentioned earlier.

  • Graphics

Graphics are pictures, drawings, clip art or other images that can be inserted into a document from other programs or stored data on the computer. This can better illustrate situations where a picture or image highlights a point better than text or a table. The graphics tools also allow the user to manipulate images that have been imported by changing their color, contrast, brightness, size, etc. The process of customizing these images in the word processor provides an easy and fast way to explain the topic at hand.

  • Templates

Another useful tool are Templates. These are preprogrammed arrangements of ideas and/or illustrations that are known to serve a purpose and are already organized for the user to interact with. Most often this means "filling in the blanks" and some common templates that should be recognized are resumes, business cards, identification cards, fax cover sheets, memos, invoices, and newsletters to name a few.[9]

Microsoft Word 365 icon

Along with templates, some documents are required to look differently depending on the use; as a result of this we change the format of our documents. Any change in format in a document is a change in the overall appearance. Examples of formatting documents can range from MLA to APA format, requiring different sized margins, fonts, etc. In order to do this, Word has tabs that make navigating around your document easy and efficient. Word includes a Help Center convenient for users to receive assistance whether it is live online help or offline. In this Help Center, tools such as where and how contents are organized are listed in a user-friendly manner. While Word processing is simply creating, editing, saving, and printing, the creation and edition are made easy by Word for a variety of end results in the overall appearance of documents. In the time of typewriters, the “carriage return” was used when a line of text needed to move to the next line to continue. With present day Word, this is done automatically and is a process called Word Wrapping.[10] Other tools that Word offers which were not available are the ability to contain various fonts, edit proportions, and spacing is also made more efficient.

Spreadsheets[edit | edit source]

What is a Spreadsheet[edit | edit source]

Poppit Spreadsheet

A spreadsheet is a group of values and other data organized into rows and columns similar to the ruled paper worksheets traditionally used by bookkeepers and accountants. The spreadsheet software is mandatory to create computerized spreadsheets. Microsoft Excel is a form of a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets can support keeping track of data, support in quickly formulating subtotals, populating visual graphs and charts and essentially is a working tool that can easily be shared. A worksheet is the single spreadsheet document. A workbook allows multiple worksheets to be saved together in a single spreadsheet file. Worksheets are divided into rows and columns. The intersection of a row is called a cell. One must enter content into the active cell, or current cell; it has a border around it to make it be easily identified. Data is entered directly into worksheet cells by clicking a cell to make it the active cell. Labels, constant values, formulas, and functions are the data that is entered into a cell. Before one enters a formula or function into a cell, one must begin with some type of mathematical symbol, usually the equal sign (=).[11] Spreadsheets are used to organize and calculate data. There is a maximum number of rows and columns in a spreadsheet which varies depending on the version of software you have.[12] It is essential to know how to use spreadsheets for school, work, sports, or anything that requires data!

Tables, Graphics, and Templates[edit | edit source]

Table-Microsoft Excel

Tables, graphics, and templates are all available to a user with application software, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and PowerPoint. Tables are ways a user can organize data and information at their convenience. According to Microsoft Word, there are now many different available options for users who are looking for various kinds of tables. These different options include the following: the Graphic Grid, Insert Table, Draw Table, insert a new or existing Excel Spreadsheet table, and Quick Tables. The concept of using tables for data input is relatively simple. In order for a user to insert a table, the user must first open Microsoft Word. Once they have done this, they must click the "table" button to customize the table to achieve their needs. The overall format for a table consists of a large (or small) grid that can be altered by the amount of information the user has, ex. four columns five rows. Next, the user must insert the table into the word document by selecting "insert table" from the dropdown menu. Microsoft Excel contains pivot tables that are tables that include data from a spreadsheet with columns and rows that can be specifically selected. [13] Graphics in Microsoft Word are pictures, or clip art that are able to be inserted into a Microsoft Word document, Excel Spreadsheet, PowerPoint slide, or any other Office application. the most common graphic used in Excel is graphs. You can create graphs based on data taken from your spreadsheet. Graphics are inserted into these Office Applications to enhance the information presented in a Word Document, Excel worksheet, or PowerPoint slide. A user can insert their own picture through their office documents; add clip art, shapes, SmartArt, screenshot, or Word Art.[14] Templates are pre-constructed document layouts whose primary use is to assist a user in creating a specific type of document in a convenient amount of time. The different options of templates vary, but a few of the following are common ones used every day: agendas, brochures, calendars, flyers, fax covers, and many more. Templates are used to save a user time, and confusion in creating their document. [15]

How to use a Spreadsheet[edit | edit source]

When using a spreadsheet application, the user can use various concepts to calculate the data entered into the cells. These different concepts are provided in the program. Some very common concepts are charts, functions, formulas, and cell references.

Charts[edit | edit source]

Charts can be created as their own objects or can be embedded in the worksheet itself.[16] This is helpful when users need to analyze data or represent changing data. Some of the forms of charts are: line charts, scatter charts, bar charts, Venn diagrams, and the list goes on and on.

Functions[edit | edit source]

A function is a pre-programmed mathematical formula that allows the user to perform calculations based on the data entered. Functions under spreadsheets perform simple calculations by using certain values (called arguments). If users wish to create their own formulas, they can use Visual Basic to write the formulas, and input values into the newly written formulas, reporting the data into the worksheet. There are many different reasons for having functions in a spreadsheet. One is for arithmetic functions that work with numeric data. The second is to use the statistical functions of the analysis and averaging tools. This is useful for finding the average of the numbers in a row/column of a spreadsheet. The next function is date for handling and converting dates. This function can be used to put consecutive dates on a spreadsheet in order. The next function is the logical function, which is used to handle logical data. An example of logical data is the AND/OR function. If something needs to be marked as yes when it is above 5 and no when it is below 5, then this is a logical function. The last type of function is a financial function that deals with monetary data. They all must start with an equal sign, the name of the function, and the beginning and end of parentheses. A comma or semicolon is used as a separator in the function, depending on the setting in the spreadsheet, and depending on which one is used. An example is =SUM(A1:A4), a function that will find the sum of these cells. Some of the most common functions are SUM, AVERAGE, IF, COUNT, MAX, and MIN.

Formulas[edit | edit source]

A formula identifies the calculation needed to place the result in the cell it is contained within. This means a cell has two display components; the formula itself and the resulting value.[17] Typically, a formula consists of five expressions: value, references, arithmetic operations, relation operations, and functions. By using these expressions, formulas can help to make tables, solve math problems, calculate a mortgage, figure out accounting tasks, and many other business-related tasks that use to be done tediously on paper.[18]

A formula always starts with an equals sign (=), followed by a constant, a function or a reference, then followed by an operator, and then followed by another constant, function or reference. A constant is a value that never changes; this includes numbers, dates, titles and other text input. References represent a certain cell, such as “A2”. An operator is usually a math symbol, such as “+” or “*” which tells the computer how to compute (add or multiply, respectively) the given constants or functions given in the formula. It is good to be careful that one knows the difference between a constant and a reference. If the constant “30” is input into cell A3, and the formula says “=30+2”, then if A3’s value changes, the expression of the formula will not change unless the formula itself changes. If one wishes to have a formula that returns the value of a cell, then the formula should read “=A3+2”. Another thing to note is that the operators will follow the basic “rules” of calculation. For example, the formula “=3+2*4” will add 3 to product of 2 and 4, rather than add 3 and 2, then multiply the sum times 4. (Parenthesis can be used to change the order: (3+2)*4 would add first, then multiply.) Operators are not always arithmetic, they can also be comparison, text concatenation, and reference operators. Comparison includes greater than, lesser than, greater than or equal to, and lesser than or equal to. To connect two values into one value, a text concatenation (the “and” sign i.e. “&”) is used. The signs used as reference operators are the following: a colon is used to reference two cells and all the cells between them (i.e. B1:B10); a comma is used to combine multiple references into one reference (i.e. B1:B10,C1:C10); and a space is used as an intersection operator.[19]

Cell Referencing[edit | edit source]

Cell referencing refers to the ability to utilize a cell or range of cells in a spreadsheet and is commonly used to create formulas to calculate data. Formulas can retrieve data from one cell in the worksheet, different areas of the worksheet, or different cells throughout an entire workbook. There are two ways of doing this: relative and absolute cell referencing. A relative cell reference will adjust as the formula is copied from another cell while an absolute will not adjust. An example of this would be "=D2+F2" which is row 2 to row 3 which will equal "D3+F3". It is also important to note that a user can reference both the same sheet and other sheets in a book using this concept.

Pivot Tables[edit | edit source]

One the most powerful features available in the Microsoft Office spreadsheet program Excel, is pivot tables. Pivot tables allow you to manipulate large amounts of raw data.[20] It makes it easy to analyze the data in different ways, with a simple click and drag. Vast quantities of data can be summarized in a variety of ways. Calculations can be performed by row or column. Data can be filtered or sorted automatically by any or all of the fields. Excel can even recommend a basic layout of a pivot table based on the type of data selected. A wizard is available to assist in the creation of the table. An important thing to remember when using pivot tables, is that any time the original data source is modified, the data must be refreshed in the pivot.

Sample Pivot Table

Once the pivot table has been created and the data has been analyzed in a meaningful way, it can then be represented graphically using pivot charts. All the basic chart types available in Excel are available in the pivot chart menu. Much like the pivot tables they are built on, they can also be manipulated with ease. They can be filtered to display only the relevant information from the main data source. They can also be added to and refreshed very easily.

Database[edit | edit source]

A database is an organized collection of facts and information such as text and numbers, and often can hold still images, sounds and videos or film clips.[21] It is organizing data in such a way that a computer program can quickly select desired pieces of information. A database can also be referred to as an electronic filing system. For example, libraries, rather than have a file cabinet, provide access to academic databases for use in scholarly projects. Regular PC databases are organized by fields, records, tables, and files. A field (column) is a single piece of information like last name, address, phone number, and such. A record (row) is a one complete set of fields. A table is a collection of records. Lastly, a file is a collection of related tables.[22] A database file is created first, then tables that can be created in either datasheet or design view.[23] There are different kinds of databases, such as active, cloud, deductive, distributed, graph, hypertext, etc. For example, in hypertext database, any object can be linked to another object; this is useful for organizing a lot of information. A DBMS is database management software that allows the definition, creation, querying, update, and administration of databases.[24] Common database management software is Microsoft Access. Since many databases store confidential and important information, they require passwords and other security features in order to access the information.[25]

Queries and Reports[edit | edit source]


Queries and reports are used to retrieve information from databases.[26] A query is almost like a search tool for the user of the database to find specific information like an item, number, name, etc. Like other documents made, a query has to be made and saved as well, for users to be able to come back and search it again. A query contains criteria that must be met for a record or row to be shown in the ending results of the specific query. Queries can also be made to show multiple columns or rows at a single time, instead of just one row or column. For example, a customer insists on buying a set of glasses for under $20 at Crate and Barrel.[27] The employee can then inquire “glasses under $20” and be able to tell the customer which kind to specifically look at. A report is used when acquiring a formal output. This can be a company logo or graphic with a page column heading. These can be created with the “Report Wizard button” on the “Create tab” from the Ribbon. Reports are mostly used with database tables or queries. Databases can be used more efficiently for customers shopping via the Internet. Today, online shopping is the newest sensation. For example, a specific dress can be found on Lord and Taylor’s [28] website for women, prior to going to the store by typing in the search bar. Examples of popular databases used are Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Oracle, MySQL, and IBM DB2.[29]

Microsoft Access 365 logo

Deciding Which Database to Use[edit | edit source]

How does one know which kind of database to use? To someone not familiar with this kind of thing, it could be a situation where one does not even know where to begin. Something one must first consider is what they will be using the database for. Database Managing Systems can be broken up into two categories; server databases or desktop databases. Desktop databases are typically geared toward a single user, whereas server databases must accommodate multi-users and large amounts of data. Some familiar types of Desktop DB are Microsoft Access, Fox Pro, File Manager, or Paradox. Desktop DB’s are fit for storing less complex data and are less expensive then server DB’s, typically around one hundred dollars. They are also very user friendly and have web functionality that allows the user to publish data on the web. Server databases on the other hand are equipped to store and manage much larger amounts of data and allow for many users to have access to that data at the same time. Some popular Server DB’s are Microsoft SQL, Oracle or IBM DB2. Due to their complex functionality, these data bases are much more expensive, ranging in the thousands and up. Server DB’s are equipped with Application Programmer Interfaces (API’s) that allow for custom programming and applications. They are extremely powerful, being able to accommodate cluster servers and multiple high speed processors. They are also able to adapt well to the constant addition of users and data. After evaluating these two types of databases, one should have a better idea of which one will best suit their needs.[30]

Database Protection[edit | edit source]

DB2 Client Connections

The database is one of the most essential parts of a business process. The ability to access and to operate data is a necessary condition for the running company. Permanent data loss puts the business in serious danger. According to some researchers, about a half of the companies affected by disasters and major loss of corporate data, have not been able to continue their activities. There are few most common reasons for database destruction: equipment failures, physical impact on the hardware of the database, errors of authorized users, database or operating system bugs and errors in application programs, intentional acts unauthorized users or programs. The primary protection tools such the user’s identification, the granting of different rights of access to database objects e.g. reading, adding, deleting, and changing along with data and programs encryption can provide the acceptable security level. Note, that the security model, based on the basic mechanisms of authorization and authentication does not solve problems such as stolen user IDs and passwords or malicious actions of some users with the authority. [31] It is important to understand best practices when ensuring database security. The first thing to do is to develop a plan, enforce a regulation, and adopt a checklist to use as the backbone of security standards. One should always report suspicious behavior immediately, to help minimize risk of attack.

Presentation Graphics[edit | edit source]

Intro to Presentation Software[edit | edit source]

U.S. Navy uses presentation graphics to educate

Everyone has different styles of learning. Some people are more visual learners meaning they prefer to learn through graphs and charts, while others are auditory learners meaning they prefer to learn through spoken presentations and lectures. Yet, no matter your learning style, there is one type of software that has been repeatedly proven to be a great method of sharing key information in an organized and relatively entertaining fashion. The successful software in question is presentation software.[32] Presentation software allows the user to create slides which they can piece together into a slideshow. It is a great way to organize and refine large amounts of information into the most important aspects because each slide has limited space and there is often time restraint when giving a presentation. Whether you're presenting information to a classroom or to a boardroom, the method of organizing information in a fluid manner remains the same. To add entertainment value, there are many variables within each example of software that can be manipulated, from text size and color to slide transitions and transition noises. Expert presentation software users can add photos and music to their presentations. Two of the most widely used examples of presentation software today are Microsoft Powerpoint and Prezi.

A chart of the 2002 Iranian Economy using Apple Keynote

Presentation graphics is a type of software that allows users to create stylized audio and visual aids (sound effects, animation, etc.) typically for slideshows, reports, and public informational speeches. Presentation graphics incorporates tools for inserting various types of drawings, text and background schemes in a wide variety of fonts, colors, and patterns. Most systems can also import specific data from a spreadsheet application to generate customized charts and graphs. Presentation programs can be divided into two categories -- business graphics software and general multimedia authoring tools. Though some products are blended, the layout of business presentation software emphasizes fast learning and ease of use, while multimedia software offers a more sophisticated presentation that will likely require a higher level of technological understanding. Popular presentation software, such as Microsoft's Powerpoint or Apple's Keynote, may be purchased independently or as part of an office suite. Universally compatible products include Adobe Persuasion, Corel Presentations, Harvard Graphics, and Lotus Freelance Graphics. Free products include Google Slides, Prezi, PowToon, and Academic Presenter. All presentation platforms function similarly and provide nearly identical capabilities just with different visual layouts. Upon completion, the file(s) are usually saved to a computer, external storage device, or the cloud. During a presentation, users are able to view miniature images of slides on a device’s screen, and edit or direct their layout as they are simultaneously projected onto a larger screen or LCD projection panel for others to view. [33]

Powerpoint[edit | edit source]

US Navy 040605-N-6633C-002 Commander Naval Reserve Force, Vice Adm. John G. Cotton, is silhouetted in front of a Powerpoint slide mapping out the Naval Reserve Force's future

Powerpoint is a Microsoft Office software used to present information and work as a visual aide. Powerpoint makes it easy to organize and present information in a visually appealing way such as charts, pictures, tables, video clips, and sounds. The various designs and color themes that come are built in the software and are ready to use. The slides themselves come with several options of pre-loaded layouts, using features such as bullet points, pictures, captions, and titles. These are easy to drag and drop to make rearranging very easy.[34] The idea of a digital visual is to help a presenter engage their audience and display their ideas in a more simple form. This also helps the presenter engage their audience. One feature that comes in handy is the ability to print the slides so either the presenter or audience can be informed ahead of time of what to expect. Meaning, there is a preview feature that allows the user to already know what topic is coming next. Powerpoint also has a notes feature in which you can input notes you may need for your presentation. The notes feature also allows you to print out the notes page with the slide show on it which is known as notes view. You can also adjust the size of the slide on the notes view so that all of your notes fit on the page and looks presentable. If all of your notes do not fit on the notes page provided, it will spill over to the next page. If you know their is a lot of wording, you can make a duplicate slide and hide it in the presentation, so you will have more room for your notes! Teachers, employers, and computer users all over the world have now become accustomed to using Powerpoint as their “go-to” visual aide. The image on the right shows a presenter using a Powerpoint as a visual aide.

A PowerPoint Presentation slideshow is projected on a large screen for the audience.

The PowerPoint presentation graphics program provides the user with several assortment tools and operations for creating and editing slides. With those tools, one is able to add new or delete old slides that are previewed in the slide thumbnail tab area, usually found on the left side of the screen. One is also able to switch to the slide outline tab, which contains only the title and the main text included in the slide. If desired, using the Insert tab, the user can perform additional operations like exporting images, along with adding formatted tables, shapes, symbols, charts, and much more to better express their message. Additionally, to customize the PowerPoint to make it even more dynamic and presentable, text can be animated, and a unique transition can be added to the slides. With animation, text can be set to appear in a specific way in the slide during a slide show. Tons of special effects are provided for the user, including animations to make the text to fly, dissolve, fly, float, or bounce in. Similarly, one is also able to apply special effects to specific slides to transition from one slide to another in a specific manner. Additionally, Microsoft PowerPoint allows recorded narration to be played back as the slideshow is being presented, along with speaker notes. Furthermore, most presentation graphics programs also allow the user to print those speaker notes for the targeted audience’s convenience. [35]

Inside Scoop on New Presentation Software[edit | edit source]

Sample Prezi

There are hundreds of ways we present information on a daily basis. Whether it is through verbal speech, pamphlets, posters, commercials, flyers, power points, etc. we are constantly presenting information and being presented to. Technologically, there are still many ways to present information to an audience. The convenient part is that the user do not just have to use programs like PowerPoint and Microsoft Word. One does not even have to use products that cost money because there are several new and innovative free ways to present that will surely grab the attention of your audience.

Prezi is one of those free presentation methods. It is Internet based, and similar to PowerPoint. However, it is much more user friendly, as well as interactive. PowerPoint seems to have a set order you have to follow. It goes slide to slide in a single order. With Prezi, if you decide you want to go in a different order or go back to something 6 slides back you simply zoom out a little and click the slide you wanted to return to. Prezi slides are set in a "path" and as you present, the presentation will zoom in and out of each slide which are all present on one master screen. This is much different from PowerPoint's single slide screens. Prezi has the ability to integrate many different forms of information into your presentation. You can upload YouTube videos, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, photos, music, and voice overs. You can also time your slides and have them move to the next one automatically like in PowerPoint. However, these things are input through a much simpler process. Instead of all the clicks you have to do in PowerPoint to insert things such as a YouTube video, Prezi has a button labeled "Insert YouTube video" and once you click it, it asks for the video URL. After you enter that, it automatically uploads it to your presentation. There you can resize it and place it wherever you would like. The ability to see where one idea came from and how it is physically moving to the next idea makes Prezi a much more innovative presentation method. It can be used for entertainment, educational work, teaching, and even in the business world. It comes with many templates as well at the ability to create your own presentation from scratch.

Prezi also offers many interesting things PowerPoint does not: it has the ability to share the presentation via email, collaborate on a presentation with multiple people, give several people access to the editing of a single presentation, and a free mobile app. The app is free and allows you to present, create, and edit presentations on the go with or without Internet. It is a very useful program and definitely something to check out! [36]

Graphics and Multimedia[edit | edit source]


Graphic Software[edit | edit source]

CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 Logo

Graphic software has a variety of application programs and has a wide range of different uses. Graphics software uses photo editing programs that are used to manipulate pixels from images from pictures. A useful program would be Adobe Paint Shop, which can be used to edit, change, and alter pictures however you would like them to be. Another category for creating images would be vector images which are bit-mapped images created by a digital camera and is able to be altered and the images are able to re-scale to any size with no loss of detail. Also, each object in a given picture can be layered over another which allows an individual to take out one specific object if they do not like how it overlaps or covers another object in the picture. Graphs, tables, diagrams, charts, and images usually present the information on a drawing program. This makes drawing programs most appealing to small businesses trying to advertise their product in a larger variety by creating business cards, stylish logos, and more advertising methods. Also, marketing professionals use drawing programs to create intriguing web pages, corporate images, and other business-related necessities. Drawing programs are used by architects, shipbuilders, aerospace engineers, home-designers, prosthetic engineers, landscapers, and construction managers because of the scale-to-size and fixed-point accuracy of such programs. Other common features of a drawing software program are batch conversion, text-to-speech conversion, auto-indexing, layout retention, and the ability to print. Newer programs that are being created come with unique features like TWAIN, which can be used by a Macintosh to allow image hardware devices to communicate with image processing software. Popular drawing program software in use today is computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, MS Paint, and GNU image manipulation program (GIMP). All of these types of software can be used by the public or by businesses.[37] As well as the programs, the graphics side of them is able to create images in 3-D modeling, as well as create animations which can be made through Photoshop. In able to add video or audio there is programs with multimedia content which the software is able to play and editing audio and video along with any editing. Overall, graphic software is really useful for personal, business and education purposes, whether it’s for creating a college or providing information with addition affect for the audience.[38]

Audio Capture and Editing Software[edit | edit source]

Audio capture and audio editing software is used to create and edit audio files. There are many different programs associated with these two types of programs. Some programs are designed to extract audio from CDs (ripping software) while others capture sound through input devices like a microphone, a transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal.[39] Some programs are able to record sound and also edit that sound, or it can open a certain type of sound file, which enables the user to edit any piece in various ways. The extent to which the user can edit the sound depends on the complexity of the software. One program can only allow very basic functions like cutting and pasting while another program can add effects and modify every bit of the wavelength. This is an example of the distinction found between free programs and others deemed professional; however, that is not to say that just because a program is free it must be of a lower quality. Audacity is a free program that includes both audio capturing and editing elements.[40]

One professional audio editing program that does cost money is Pro Tools, created by Avid Technology.[41] This software works similar to a multi-track recorded and mixer, but has a wide array of digital features. One such feature that is commonly used in the software is MIDI, which stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.[42] A MIDI device can link up to sixteen channels of information that allows electronic instruments and computers to communicate with each other. Through MIDI input, digital sounds and samples can be inputted into Pro Tools and can then be mixed and edited to the desired output.

Video Editing and DVD Authoring Software[edit | edit source]

The widespread availability of digital cameras and now phones with built-in camera devices combined with the massive popularity of sites like YouTube has led many to use video editing programs. These programs enable the user to modify their clips extensively, and like audio capture and editing software there are both consumer and professional offerings. DVD authoring is a process that many video editing programs include. More specifically it oversees the layout of the DVD: what clips will be used and how they will be played along with customization of the menu. After authoring the DVD via the program the user must burn it to an actual DVD for playback. This can be done using utilities included by Windows or Mac or by dedicated software.

For large and expensive projects, editors need advanced software that has a multitude of features and can handle the scale of such projects. One professional video editing program is Final Cut Pro, created by Apple. This software has advanced tools and capabilities to edit and create videos and clips. The most recent version, Final Cut Pro X, has new features that make video editing easier and more efficient such as a new dynamic editing interface, new multichannel audio editing capabilities, more precise inline clipping tools, and a streamlined interface that helps to keep media organized. Professionals can use this software to create complex movies ready for the big screen.[43]

A Media Player

A standard film-editing program on Mac is iMovie. It is a standard free program, tailored toward light editing for simple movies. Apple markets it as an editing program for home movies [44]. It is a simple ti use system, in incorporates file from the Internet, iTunes, iPhoto, garage band, and other online and Mac programs. While it is not at advanced as Final Cut Pro, it does do a good job editing movies. Mac has also added and iOS compatible version of the program for use on its mobile devices. This version is compatible with both the iPads, and iPhone product lines. However, iMovie’s capabilities are limited, as mobile devices lack the memory and processing power for extend editing of projects. Another feature built into iMovie is the ability to share directly to Internet websites. These include Facebook, twitter, and YouTube. In addition, there is a quick feature for emailing movies. Once edited movies are formatted and finalized, Apple runs its own video player known as QuickTime. This is a standard program, similar to Windows Media Player, and is compatible with both Macs and PC’s. Film editors like QuickTime as it is more reliable and has fewer bugs that Media Player, and it is less likely to corrupt video files. [[File:QuickTime 7 Icon.png|thumb|QuickTime 7 Icon]

Media Players[edit | edit source]

Living in the technologically advanced country that we do now, it is relatively understandable to say that, at some point or in another life, we have all heard some form of music or audio played off of an electronic device. Today, for most of us, these devices are things such as CDs, radios, iPods, phones, DVDs, and many more. These are all things that would be considered media players. They were designed with the purpose of playing audio or videos in mind. Today, many of these players are free and are programs that most of us have probably used at some point or another (such as iTunes or Windows Media Player). One thing it is important to keep in mind when using these is that although illegally downloading things may be easy, it definitely does not make it right. It is essential that we all keep the copyright laws in mind when downloading any type of audio or video.[45]

Graphics, Multimedia, and the Web[edit | edit source]

Today, it is rare to find a company that does not use some form of multimedia or graphics on their businesses web page. This is just one example of how important multimedia and graphics have become to the World Wide Web. Open up your browser and instantaneously you’ll see some form of graphics spread across the front page. Whether it’s a banner, GIF, logo, demonstration, or picture, I can pretty much guarantee you that it’s there. These graphics are nice because they easily add color and animation to the page, and make being there just a little bit more interesting for the user.[46]

Other Types Of Application Software[edit | edit source]

There are many types of application softwares. Every type of application software is made to serve a function or to help, for example software for business' or education. Desktop publishing refers to using a personal computer to manipulate text and images to create attractive documents as if they were created by a professional printer. Similar to this, personal publishing softwares are used to create documents for personal use, such as invitations, flyers, or calendars. Very common types of application software include education and entertainment. Entertainment software includes games, simulations, and other programs that provide amusement. Educational software can be found on personal computers, but a popular trend is to combine the hardware and software into a single product. For example, Leapfrog is well-known for their child look-alike laptops used for teaching.[47] Software such as OneNote and Notebook are examples of note taking software. These softwares are generally used by students and business people to take notes during lectures or meetings. Because of this, note taking software normally supports typed and handwritten input. Engineers and architects make use of design software such as CAD (computer-aided design). CAD plays an important role in the design of finished products and other fields such as art, advertising, or law.

Review[edit | edit source]

Key Terms[edit | edit source]

Application Software
Software designed to carry out specific tasks [48]
Copyrighted software that is distributed on the honor system; consumers should either pay for it or uninstall it after the trial period for ethicality [49]
Copyrighted software that may be used free of charge [50]
Public Domain Software
Software that is not copyrighted and may be used without restriction [51]
Open Source Software
Software programs made up of source code which is made available to the public. i.e. Wikibook [52]
Web-Based Software
Software that is delivered on demand via the Web; also referred to as Software as Service (SaaS) or cloudware.
Word Processing
Using a computer and word processing software to create, edit, save, and print written documents, such as letters, contracts, and manuscripts [53]
A document containing a group of values and other data organized into rows and columns; also called a worksheet in a spreadsheet program [54]
A collection of related data that is stored in a manner enabling information to be retrieved as needed; a collection of related tables [55]
Presentation graphics
An image, such as a graph or drawn object, designed to visually enhance a presentation
Graphics Software
Application software used to create or modify images
One of the features found in the recent Microsoft Office applications that uses tabs to organize groups of related commands [56]

Accessibility Software[edit | edit source]

Visual Aid Software[edit | edit source]

There is software that enables a user to access software even if they have a disability of some type. The same software can simply allow a user to access programs on their computer without visual interferences. An example of this would be f.lux. F.lux is a program that removes the blue tint from a users screen in order to prevent headaches and the light interfering with circadian sleep rhythms [57]. These applications are particularly useful when reading or writing word documents in a dark room.

Review Questions[edit | edit source]

1. A _____ is a collection of worksheets saved in a single spreadsheet file.

2. A _____ is a collection of related data that is stored in a manner enabling information to be retrieved as needed.

3. With a(n) _____ program, the source code for the program is made available to the public and so can be modified by others.

4. True or False. Changing the font size in a document is an example of a formatting operation.

5. A _____ is a collection of related fields in a database. Also called a row.

6. Software that is not copyrighted and may be used without restriction is _____.

7. True or False. Software can be installed on both personal computers and servers.

8. The location at the intersection of a row and column on a worksheet into which data can be typed is a _____.

9. True or False. Microsoft Office is one example of a software suite.

10. Copyrighted software that is distributed on the honor system; consumer should either pay for it or uninstall it after the trial period is _____.


1. Workbook 2. Database 3. Open Source 4. True 5. Record 6. Public Domain Software 7. True 8. Cell 9. True 10. Shareware

References[edit | edit source]

  1. http.//
  5. Understanding Computers 14th Edition by Deborah Morley
  57. Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans

Computer Networks

Networking Applications[edit | edit source]

GPS Satellite NASA art-iif.crop

There are many different types of network applications. First and foremost is the internet, the largest network of networks in the world. Second, there are our phones, the oldest of which is POTS (plain old telephone service), which one day could be replaced by the newer technology, mobile phones. Mobile phones have been around for a few years now, and are beginning to replace home phone lines. Mobile phones can be separated into two groups, cellular phones and satellite phones. Cell phones work by communicating with cell towers in order to function. There are some dual mode phones which allow you to make phone calls through a WIFI signal, and switch to cell signal when out of WIFI range. Satellite phones work by communicating with satellites in space, this is primarily used with the military, where cell tower coverage is nearly impossible in some locations. While satellite phones can be used in rural and mountainous areas, the drawback to them is when there is a storm or heavy clouds, you can lose your signal. Satellites are also used with a GPS(global positioning system). GPS functions by transferring data between your device and satellites in space. They work similarly to sonar waves. After the signal leaves the satellite, your exact location will be determined based on the time it takes to get to you.

In addition to tracking subjects, satellites and networks are beginning to play a larger part in the field of search and rescue (SAR). Most ocean going boats and all airplanes carry some kind of emergency beacon on board. Aircraft carry an emergency location transmitter (ELT) and boats carry an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). Before the mid 2000’s these devices transmitted on 121.5 mhz, the international emergency frequency, which was monitored by SAR satellites. However, in 2009 [1], SAR satellites stopped monitoring 121.5 beacons in favor of the newer 406 mhz beacons. These devices guide SAR team to the site of a crash, but the signal is also embedded with data. This data includes the name of the owner of the beacon, the aircraft or vessel identification, and a precise GPS location. These capabilities are also being used on personal locator beacons (PLB). These devices are small enough to carry in a pocket, but powerful enough to send an emergency signal to a satellite. Hikers can use these if they are going to a remote area. The use of a satellite network allows for very precise tracking of these devices, and can bring rescue team to the site within two hours.

A Common PLB

Computer networks consist of two or more computers or hardware devices linked together to enable connections between shared hardware, software, and data. A combination of networks that consist of telephone networks and computer networks are also becoming more commonly used in this generation.[2] The data is able to be passed along to other networks due to networked computing devices along data connections. A datagram, segment, or block is a unit of communication over a digital network, commonly known as a packet. The data breaks down into smaller units of data when needed. Once the data travels along the data connections, the pieces of data are reassembled into the original data chunk. Data is structured differently, depending on the protocol enforcing the data. The structure of a packet consists of a header and a payload. The header consists of titles regarding transmission-related information. The payload, however, consists of the actual data the packet is carrying.[3] Computer networks range from small private networks, to large computer networks. The Internet, or the World Wide Web, is the largest computer network, consisting of a system of interlinked hypertext documents accessed via the Internet. Via hyperlinks, a user of the Internet can access images, text, videos, etc.

Monitoring Systems are another form of networking applications. These systems specialize in locating a specific person, vehicle or device rather than pulling up geographical information like a GPS does. However, most monitoring systems use GPS in locating their targets. Radio Frequency Identification (or RFID) for example, can be used to locate a person or animal with an RFID chip embedded inside of it. Most commonly recognized for its ability to track pets that have the chip implanted, RFID has also moved into the human medical field. In fact, some breast implants in the United Kingdom have been chipped so that a physician can read information about the implant years after the surgery has been completed.[4] While this is the social reasoning for this type of chipping, it seems that medical records housed on inexpensive servers would suit this purpose just fine. The fact remains that RFID chips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, operate using a small silicon chip and a copper antenna which emit personal information about its owner. This information is then picked up by electronic networks feeding back information about the product, the person carrying it, and its location to the network. It is currently being used to track cattle and Alzheimer's patients as well as merchandise produced by manufacturers.[5] Other monitoring systems include vehicle tracking software such as the famous OnStar. This type of networking application has been expanded so that employers can spy on employees using company vehicles. With a simple installation, the latest vehicle tracking applications can feed information about the geographic location of a company vehicle, the speed of the vehicle, and even "hard breaking" events. Mobile phones aren't omitted either. Since most of the current mobile phones have stand alone GPS systems a person can track the movements of the individuals under their plan as well as their own phone if it is stolen.[6]

A video conference.

Multimedia networking has exploded as well. This type of networking offers digital multimedia content such as movies, music, and recorded t.v. shows to be viewed over a phone, p.c., or television. While most devices already have the required capabilities built in, some devices need may need a receiver. Placeshifting is common with this type of network which will allow an individual to download content from one place and view it in another, i.e. from a t.v. to a mobile phone. Similarly, VideoConferencing allows people to interact remotely from separate locations. Instead of streaming a movie in real time, a person can stream a video feed from a relative or business part who might be across the globe. They can then interact and speak as they normally would while viewing the mannerisms of others in real time. Also, through the use of videoconferencing Telemedicine has been used to diagnose and treat patients who are unable to access a doctor in person because of their poverty level, geographical area, or physical condition. Physicians, with the assistance of a member on site with the patient, use videoconferencing to conduct tests such as simple ear and throat checkups to procedures as complex as actual surgery in some cases.[7]

One relatively new use of networking is telesurgery, or remote surgery. As the name implies, this is surgery that takes place over distances: that is, the surgeon is not actually in the same room as the patient. A surgeon controls robotic arms that in turn perform surgery on the patient. Some advantages of this kind of procedure are that it mitigates the potential effect of a surgeon's hands shaking, the surgeon's arms rest comfortably throughout the entire procedure, and the surgeon can specify a task that (s)he wishes to have performed and ensure it is safe before the robotic arms actually carry it out. Initially, there was just computer-assisted surgery, where the surgeon sat only a few meters away, but now longer-distance telesurgery has been developed: the first telesurgical procedure was known as Operation Lindbergh and involved a New York doctor performing on a French patient across the Atlantic. Telesurgery still isn't especially widespread, but in time, it may see such uses as performing on astronauts in long-term space travel, performing on soldiers on or near battlefields, or working alongside or training surgeons in remote, developing countries. Time will tell how useful these kinds of procedures turn out to be, but they are definitely an example of a networking technology that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago.[8]

Network Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Networks can contain many different characteristics that define how they function as well as their capabilities. These characteristics include certain factors such as topology, scalability or size, architecture, and media.[9]

Network Topology[edit | edit source]

Bus Topology

Network topology is how different nodes in a network are connected to each other and how they communicate. The five most common topologies are mesh topology, star topology, bus topology, ring topology, and tree topology. In a mesh topology, devices are connected with many excessive interconnections between network mode. In a star topology, the devices are connected to a central computer, and the nodes communicate across the network by passing data through the hub, which is the central computer. In a bus topology, it connects all devices on a local-area network called LAN. Bus networks are not very pricey, and they are easy to install. In a ring topology, it consists of a local area network whose topology is a ring. The messages travel around the ring. In a tree topology, it is considered a "hybrid" topology that combines characteristics of the bus and star topologies.[10]

Network Architecture[edit | edit source]


Network architecture is the layout of the network. The hardware, software, communication protocols, and mode of transmission in the network architecture.[11] Two main types of network architectures are server-based, or client-server networks, and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. Server-based networks consist of clients and servers. Servers are powerful computers that are able to transfer data and information among personal computers within the local network or even to other computers across the Internet.[12] Some server-based networks can be designed for certain purposes such as to connect all computers within a given area to a printer (print server) or to even contain data such as documents or other types of files (file server). A peer-to-peer network is a network that doesn’t utilize a central server. Instead, each computer (or peer) within a peer-to-peer network allows itself to use some of its resources to share with the entire network. For example, computers can give some of their processing power or bandwidth and share it with the network participants.[13] The network architecture plays an essential role in today's society; therefore, one should be aware of the network architecture, and the different types of network topologies as well.

Network Size[edit | edit source]

Network sizes are defined by a few three-letter acronyms: PANs, LANs, MANs, and WANs. Personal Area Networks (PANs) are networks that connect an individual's devices, such as bluetooth headsets and speakers. Local Area Networks (LANs) are networks that are used within larger areas such as corporate buildings but can also be used in hospitals or even college campuses. Some people, however, prefer to title networks on a college campuses and hospitals as Campus Area Networks (CANs) if they contain more than one LANs interconnected. A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) is used to connect computers within cities. Lastly, a Wide Area Network (WAN) is a network that contains numerous LANs and is able to connect computers across continents. The largest Wide Area Network is the Internet. Some people use other terms such as Global Area Network (GAN) which is a single network with connection points across the globe, usually used to connect large corporation, or Solar System Area Network (SSAN), which is numerous GANs, combined to connect planets within a single solar system. This technology, however, is not yet available.[14]

Network Media[edit | edit source]

Network media is the actual path which the signals travel to and from different components. These paths can either be physical wires, wired media, or radio signals, wireless media.[15]

Wired Networking Media[edit | edit source]

The wire used for networking media is called cable. The most common types of wired media include twisted-pair, coaxial, and fiber-optic cable.[16]

Twisted-Pair Cable[edit | edit source]

Twisted-pair cable is exactly what it sounds like: two wires twisted together. This design works because it creates an electrical current that flows through the wire, which creates a circular magnetic field around the wire that increases performance. Having the wires twisted, as opposed to being adjacent, helps there to be no crosstalk (the noise/interference sometimes generated by the wires). There are two sub-types of twisted-pair cable: unshielded twisted pair (UTP) and shielded twisted pair (STP). Twisted-pair cable is most used for LANs such as telephone communication.[17]

Coaxial cable cutaway
Coaxial cable cutaway

Coaxial Cable[edit | edit source]

Coaxial cable is made of three components: the inside wire, the insulation, and the outside shield. The inside wire is made of two conducting elements, mainly copper and covering this is the layer of flexible insulation. A second layer of woven (braided) copper or metallic foil that acts as a second wire and as a shield that reduces that amount of outside interference. Lastly, there is a cable jacket to cover the second wire.[18]

Fiber-optic Cable[edit | edit source]

Fiber-optic cable is made of hundreds of clear glass or plastic fiber strands that are the size of a human hair. Data is transferred by light pulses at speeds of billions of bits per second. This is the newest and fasted type of cable, and while it is the most expensive, it is starting to replace the other types because its high-speed advantages are considered to be worth it.[19] They provide higher bandwith and can transmit data over longer distances than wired cables. They are also less susceptible to interference and doesn't require special shielding to avoid it. Also, since fiber-optic cables use light to transmit information, they lessen the need for signal boosters; light can travel longer distances without losing strength.

Wireless Networking Media[edit | edit source]


Along with wired networks, there are also wireless networks. Wireless networks are networks that use radio signals to transmit data through the air in order for two or more devices to communicate, rather than physical cables. This gives people the opportunity to use e-mail or browse the internet from almost any location, provided there is a wireless network available. Many devices today are able to use this technology such as PCs, laptops, mobile devices, servers and printers. Wireless networks can be found almost everywhere including the home and public locations such as libraries, restaurants, coffeehouses and airports. Many people needing Internet access on the go will commonly take advantage of wireless hotspots. A wireless hotspot is a small range area with a usable connection that allows access to the internet.

There are also different types of wireless networks. Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANS) are networks that give access to the Internet to a small local area such as a college or library. Wireless Personal Area Networks (WPANS) allow connectivity of devices in smaller ranges, typically around 30 feet. This includes Infra Red technology which may be in a television remote, or Bluetooth. A Wireless Metropolitan Area Network (WMANS) allows for the connection of many networks in a metropolitan area such as in high-rises or big buildings. Wireless Wide Area Networks (WWANS) are networks that spread over much larger areas such as cities or countries and are available through the use satellite systems or antenna sites.

Wired Vs. Wireless Networking Media[edit | edit source]

This does not look attractive in a business setting.

While the world may be going towards a wireless route when it comes to networking, is it really the best direction when it comes to connectivity? Let’s break it down to the benefits and disadvantages of each type of network media.

The benefits of having wired connection are that it it’s secure, reliable, and fast. They are also very much cheaper than having wireless connections. Another perk, especially for businesses or enterprises, is that wired connections can be controlled. This has security and productivity benefits. Disadvantages of wired connection are the sacrifice of space and portability or mobility, as well as actual physical safety and maintenance.[20]

This may look cool but is it safe?

The benefit of having a wireless connection is the actual lack of cables. This gives the actual physical freedom to use personal and office devices and has the advantage of a tidier environment. However, there is also a downside in terms of security, speed and reliability.

The best combination might be a system that has some wired connections and some wireless connections. Having a hybrid environment can balance out the disadvantages and take advantage of the benefits of having two types of network media.[21]

Types of Cables[edit | edit source]

There are different types of cables. The cable that connects a computer or network to a server or router or modem is called an Ethernet cable. The evolution of Ethernet cables began with the apparent that coaxial cables could not keep up with the demands of a growing and evolving network. The cables are listed in categories or "Cat" for short. The Cat 1 cables were primarily used for telephone modems and had a data transfer rate of up to 1Mbps. Cat 2,3,and 4 can all support computer networks and telephone traffic, and have maximum capacities of 4Mbps, 10Mbps, and 16Mbps respectively. When these cables are taken out of their casing, they look very similar. The same wires are present in all types of Cat cables; however, the number of wraps per inch increase in each version of Cat cables, therefore decreasing the amount of electromagnetic interference in the signal being transfered. The introduction to Cat 5 revolutionized networking because Cat 5 became the standard and it was classed as "ethernet" which means that it has the capability for high speed and high capacity data transfers (of 10Mbps - 100Mbps), as well as the ability regulate the transfers in order to prevent simultaneous transfers which would cancel out. After Cat 5, Cat 5e was introduced. The "e" stands for "enhanced". The Cat 5e "gigabit" cable - in theory - had the capacity for 1000Mbps (1 gigabit) transfer rates. This was accomplished by wrapping the strands of wire tighter, therefore cutting down on "crosstalk" or interference that caused disruptions in the data transfer. Later, Cat 6 was introduced with the addition of a physical isolator between line segments in the cable, which reduces interference to a greater extent, with a transmission capacity of 1000 Mbps (1 Gigabit per second).[22] Since 2013, Cat 7,8, and 8.1 have been introduced, but are only practical in a small amount of industrial settings.

Network Architecture & Network Topologies[edit | edit source]

Bus Topology

Network architecture is the layout of the network. The hardware, software, communication protocols, and mode of transmission consists in the network architecture. The network architecture plays an essential role in today's society; therefore, one should be aware of the network architecture, and the different types of network topologies as well.[23] Network topology is how different nodes in a network are connected to each other and how they communicate. The five most common topologies are mesh topology, star topology, bus topology, ring topology, and tree topology. In a mesh topology, devices are connected with many excessive interconnections between network mode. In a star topology, the devices are connected to a central computer, and the nodes communicate across the network by passing data through the hub, which is the central computer. In a bus topology, it connects all devices on a local-are network called LAN. Bus networks are not very pricey, and they are easy to install. In a ring topology, it consists of a local area network whose topology is a ring. The messages travel around the ring. In a tree topology, it is considered a "hybrid" topology that combines characteristics of the bus and star topologies.[24]

Data Transmission Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Data Transmission[edit | edit source]

Analog signal

Data transmission is the actual transfer of data over a channel. The types of channels are copper wire, optical fiber, wireless communication channels, storage media and computer buses. This data is transmitted via signals, which can be electrical, radio waves, microwave or infrared. Data can be transmitted analog by using both analog and digital signals. The modem can change and process the digital data it receives. The data transmitted can come from the keyboard, which is the data source. The data transmitted can also be analog, such as from a cell phone, and can be digitized using source code. The source code is the computer's instructions, which are read and interpreted by the computer.[25]

Bandwidth[edit | edit source]

Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transmitted in a given amount of time. Bandwidth is also referred to as throughput. The measure of bandwidth can be bits per second (bps), or thousands of bits per second (Kbps), or millions of bits per second (Mbps), or billions of bits per second (Gbps).[26] Bandwidth refers to the capacity of a connection. A network medium with a higher bandwidth will allow more data to pass through in a given amount of time. Therefore, the higher the capacity, the better the performance. This is not always true, however, because performance depends on other aspects as well. Text data requires the least amount of bandwidth, while video data requires the most.[27]

Analog vs. Digital Signals[edit | edit source]

The red is a digital signal and the gray would be an analog signal

Analog and digital signals are used to transmit information, usually through electric signals. Analog signal is a continuous signal and has constant fluctuations where a digital signal is discrete time signals generated by digital modulation. Analog signals are denoted by sine waves that are smooth and continues whereas digital signals are square waves that are stepping and discrete.[28] Analog signals would be things like human voices in the air and analog electronic devices (AM and FM radio, old telephones). Digital signals have only two levels of voltage: high and low.[29] It is an electrical signal that is converted into a pattern of bits. It has a discrete value at each sampling point. Each sample is defined with a series of bits that are either 0s or 1s. Digital signals are for things like computers, CDs, DVDs, and other digital electronic devices. Analog signal processing can be done in real time and consumes less bandwidth whereas there is no guarantee that digital signal processing can be done in real time and consumes more bandwidth to carry out the same information. The advantages of digital signal are that the recording does not degrade over time and groups of numbers can often be compressed by finding patterns in them.[30]

Transmission Type and Timing[edit | edit source]

Network Data Transfer

For the transmission of data and network media, there are two ways to send information. Serial transmission is sending data in a single path, one bit at a time. An example of this would be a classroom with students lined up in a single line at the door and leaving one at a time. The advantage of serial transmission is that only one line is used, so the cost is lower, at least compared to parallel transmission using multiple lines. The disadvantage is the cost of the entire transmission. Serial transmission is also not as fast because the bits are transmitted sequentially.[31]

Parallel transmission sends data one byte (or 8-bit) at a time, but each bit takes a separate route. This is a more efficient way to send or receive data. For example, a parallel transmission can be identified as students walking through a large hallway in a school to reach their particular classroom. This approach involves more space to receive data more efficiently.

Synchronous, asynchronous and isochronous transmission are the three different ways of serial transmission. Synchronous transmission is the transfer of data in groups and blocks, one after the other. The advantage of synchronous transmission is that it is faster, but the disadvantage is that it requires buffering and ensures that the sender and receiver have the same clock frequency.[32] Asynchronous transmission is not as widely used as synchronous transmission because it is sent when it is ready. The advantages of asynchronous transmission is that this method is cheaper if the lines are short, due to the idle time being short. Each character being all independent will not be interupted in the process. The signals can halso ave different bit rates and the transmission can start as soon as possible. Finally, Asynchronous transmission can send data all at once. The disadvantage of asynchronous, however, is that it is less efficient and slower, because there are gaps between bits.

Data can also be transmitted in three main different ways. Simplex transmission is when data is transmitted in only one direction. Half-duplex transmission sends data in either direction, but data can only be sent in one direction at a time. Full-duplex transmission sends data back and forth in either direction and can be done simultaneously.

Delivery Method[edit | edit source]

Data is delivered by using circuit switching, which is a specific path between a sender and a receiver. A telephone system is an example of circuit switching because the path is dedicated to only those two people for the time being. Once they are off the phone, the path is free to use by whomever else. Sending data over the Internet is called packet switching. The messages sent are detached in “packets.” While traveling through the Internet, the packets contain all information going from the sender to the receiver. Once the transmission is complete, the packets are put back together to create the correct message.

Signature Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Characteristics include the physical transfer of data, or a digital bit stream or a digitized analog signal, through a point-to-point communication channels (copper wires, optical fibers, storage media and computer buses). Data is represented as an electromagnetic signal, such as an electrical voltage, radiowave, microwave, or infrared signal. Its messages are symbolized in one of two ways. The first, known as baseband transmission, is completed by a sequence of pulses using a line code. The second, passband transmission, utilizes a specified set of continuously varying waveforms, created using a digital modulation method. Regardless of which technique is used, the receiver must synchronize itself with the transmitter. There are two distinct types of transmission -- Asynchronous and synchronous. In asynchronous, the two devices are relatively close to each other in speed. This means that if only small bursts of data are sent at a time, its synchronization will be successful as long as the receiver is able to synchronize with the immediate beginning of the data burst. In synchronous transmission, a significantly larger amount of data is sent in each block, which either contains, is preceded, or accompanied by signaling, thus permitting co-synchronization of the devices. The majority of all network backbone traffic today is synchronous.[33]

Communications Protocols and Networking Standards[edit | edit source]

The definition and usage of TCP/IP[edit | edit source]

This is a visual representation of how all the IP addresses are connected to each other
Example of Ethernet Cord

Communications protocol and networking standards are necessary in order to determine how devices on a network communicate and what requirements are needed in order for hardware and software manufacturers to develop computing products that function with other products. Techopedia, an online source of computing devices, explains communication protocol as “formal descriptions of digital message formats and rules. They are required to exchange messages in or between computing systems and are required in telecommunications.”[34] Protocol deals with issues concerning packet size, transmission speed, packet sequence controls, routing, and address formatting. These are just some of the many things that protocol and standards deal with in computing devices. Some popular protocols include File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and Post Office Protocol (POP3). There's little argument that the most popular communications protocol being used today is TCP/IP. The protocol that's used for transferring data over the Internet, TCP/IP is actually a combination of two protocols. The TCP part of the equation stands for Transmission Control Protocol and it is culpable for data delivery. IP stands for Internet Protocol and it provides routing information and addresses. There are several reasons for the continued popularity of TCP/IP. One of these reasons is the flexibility of the dual protocols, as the core has been able to remain largely the same over 25 years, even with the immense growth of internet popularity. Another reason is the routing design, as TCP/IP is designed specifically to facilitate the routing of information over a network of arbitrary complexity.[35] Pretty much all operating systems have built in support for the TCP/IP protocols so that is also a big factor in their popularity.

One potential controversy related to IP's in particular was the scare when the Internet had run out of Internet addresses. The original IP version, called IPv4, had used up all the potential number combinations so no new folks would have been able to connect to the internet... that is, until IPv6 came out. It uses 128 bit addresses, versus the mere 32 bits of IPv4, ensuring that it will be another long time to go until we risk running out of internet addresses again.[36]

Ethernet (802.3) is the most widely used standard for wired networks. It is typically used in local area networking (LAN) with twisted-pair, coaxial, or fiber-optic cabling. There are many standards of Ethernet and each of those standards reaches a maximum speed. Terabit Ethernet standard is the most current standard that is being developed and improved. It will be used to deliver video, digital X-rays, and other digital medical images. In order for a device to be connected to an Ethernet network, the device needs to have an Ethernet port built into the device or added with an expansion card. Power over Ethernet (PoE) allows for electrical power to be set along in the cables of an Ethernet network. This is what allows security cameras to get electrical power while also maintaining a network connection.

Wi-Fi Standards (801.11)[edit | edit source]

Hotspots with a Wi-Fi network will have this sign to attract and please customers.

Wi-Fi, which uses the IEEE standard 802.11, is a very popular wireless networking technology that uses radio waves to provide wireless Internet connection to devices. It is perhaps the biggest theme that today’s technological generation revolves around. With the continuous evolving technology, almost every single mobile device now requires an Internet access, or a wireless network standard like Wi-Fi. Due to this, Wi-Fi hardware is built into virtually all portable computers, mobile devices, and even other portable products like printers, digital cameras, gaming consoles, etc. Consequently, the popularity of a Wi-Fi network in houses, businesses, and public hotspots—airports, hotels, coffee shops—has grown steadily. Supporting “roaming,” devices connected to a Wi-Fi network are able to move from one access point to another, as long it is inside or around the actual building or area. The speed and strength of a Wi-Fi network depends on various factors like the Wi-Fi standard or the hardware being used. For example, the most widely used Wi-Fi standards today are 802.11g and 802.11n. The 801.11n, the newest Wi-Fi standard, is in fact currently the fastest standard today, which is able to transfer data five times as fast as the 802.11g standard.

However, even though Wi-Fi seems like the next best technological invention after computers and the Internet, it does have some minor disadvantages that limit the ultimate use of it. For example, Wi-Fi networks have a limited range; one will lose the connection to a network if they move out of the range of that network, usually 300 ft. away from the actual router. They would then have to connect to the next available Wi-Fi connection. Another limitation of Wi-Fi is that many businesses may be physically too large for a conventional Wi-Fi network to cover the entire area. However, there are special networking connections known as WiMAX or Fixed WiMAX, that provide Internet access for a longer radius, stretching from 2 to 6 miles. Using multiple WiMAX towers, similar to cell phone towers, it is even possible to provide coverage to an entire city or any geographical area! [37]

Cellular Standards[edit | edit source]

Long Term Evolution Logo
4th Generation Technology

It is no secret that the technology used for mobile phones has vastly evolved over the years. What started out as basically a mobile brick has quickly transformed into a compact, highly productive, and speedy cellular communication device. However, many people are unaware of the generational breakdown of these devices. When the first generation mobile phone was released decades ago in the 1980s, it was produced with only the purpose of voice communication in mind. It was not until the second generation came out years later, around the 1990s, that we started to see both data and voice combined into one device. This generation is best known for its access to both Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) which greatly work to enhance speed and communication up to 14.4 Kbps. When the third generation came along in the 2000s, we saw companies start to use packet switching and access speeds as fast as 2 Mbps. This brings us to where we are today. Cellular companies across the globe are starting to utilize 4g technology and offer outstanding speeds of up to 20 Mbps. Though 20 Mbps is a lot faster than 3G’s speeds, which can be as low as 3.8 Mbps, it is not at the specified 100 Mbps that fourth generation phones are supposed to require. Fourth generation phones are using the LTE, Long Term Evolution, technology or the WiMAX technology, both of which allows for more capacity and faster speeds across the mobile network.[38] These two technologies are incompatible to each other and it depends on which mobile phone provider that you are using. Currently, Sprint is using 4G WiMAX, while Verizon and AT&T are using 4G LTE.[39] This is a necessity in today’s world as more and more people buy mobile smart phones and demand a very high amount of data to be transferred to and from their phones. These technologies use OFDM, orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing, instead of TDMA, time division multiple access, or CDMA, code division multiple access. This change in technologies is what the mobile phone market accepts as a difference between the third generation and fourth generation of phones because OFDM is significantly faster and more efficient, even though it is not as fast as the original specification.[40] Another plus for the fourth generation phones is that they can still access broadband Internet content that many consumers vie for. Hopefully in the near future, technology companies can actually provide mobile phone consumers with a phone that will reach speeds up to 100 Mbps. With technology constantly evolving and expanding, where will it take us next? Into what technological wonders is fifth generation technology going to bring us? [41]

Wireless Printers[edit | edit source]

A common printer

Wi-Fi is one of the most popular networking standards that uses wireless LANs. Certain devices come Wi-Fi enabled and some can be hooked up within the wireless network. One of the most popular devices being used today is the wireless printer. Not any printer can be used, however. Special printers nowadays have the Wi-Fi transceivers built into them to locate the available networks. The major advantage is that multiple computers can print to a printer in any location that you want. Another great advantage is that you can avoid the painful cable clutter that comes with all of the devices you could hook up to the computer. It takes much less time for a computer to connect to the printer through Wi-Fi then it does to download the software and connect it manually with a USB cord. One thing to consider though is how windows and doors might affect the strength of the signal. Security is something to think about as well. Some printers contain a WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption that allows only special computers to connect if they activate the similar feature.[42] Believe it or not, these types of printers are actually reasonably priced compared to some of the other types of electronics out there on the market.

Networking Hardware[edit | edit source]

Network Adapter preferences

Network adapters or "Network Interface Cards," (NICs) are used to connect a computer to a high-speed network. Most recently manufactured motherboards have them already built in. Otherwise, a NIC may be installed onto an open PCI expansion slot on the motherboard.

Modems are able to convert your computer's digital data to analog data that can be sent over telephone service lines and converts incoming analog data to digital data that the computer can work with. The better quality modems are able to do the work directly on the card. They are known to be faster and more efficient than a cheaper modem, go figure![43]

Cisco Model EPC3010

The term modem is short for modulator/demodulator. Modems are used to connect with internet services providers. They transfer data between the internet service provider and the computer. There are a few different types of modems available. Analog modems can be used with dial-up connections. Digital subscriber line or DSL and cable modems are used with high speed broadband connections. Integrated services digital network, or ISDN modems are used for even higher speed connections. [44]

Wireless routers have changed drastically in recent years. Once just a simple tool to broadcast the internet into a home or an office, today many wireless routers have additional functions and capabilities. They can offer multiple frequencies to help avoid interference. They can be setup to allow guest access to the network. Some even allow for the advanced security setup with enhanced features like parental control to limit access to certain websites. Another convenient feature is the addition of storage to the device. Some routers allow connection of external storage devices, while others have storage built in. Many routers also have mobile apps designed to control them. In the age of tablets and smartphones, the ability to control your network settings via a mobile device is key.

Hardware for Connecting Devices and Networks[edit | edit source]

A wireless router

There are different configurations used in connecting devices to a network as well as connecting networks to other networks. An example of a configuration for a home network is a star topology where there is one central device that provides a connection for other devices. This central device, or hub, is not as efficient regarding the availability of bandwidth between the devices, specifically computers, that are connected to the hub. More exactly, the hub can lead to unnecessary traffic build-up because it repeats everything it receives to other devices. This may or may not be an issue depending on the size of the network. A small network will not have much issue with using a hub for a central device, but for other, larger networks a different device may be more practical. A switch is more suitable for larger networks. Like hubs, switches allow devices to communicate with each other. However switches contain ports that are designated for individual devices, which allows for a more efficient allocation of bandwidth for the devices as a whole.[45]

Routers are used to connect different networks together. [46] Because they maintain configuration information in a storage known as a routing table, routers can filter incoming or outgoing traffic.[47] Wireless access points are devices that allow a device access to the network. This, along with a switch, can be found in wireless routers. These routers connect both wired and wireless devices to a network, which then connects that network to the Internet. Another device is a bridge, which simply joins two LAN segments. An example of this would be connecting a game console to a home network.

Repeaters, Range Extenders, and Antennas[edit | edit source]

Satellite dish

Network repeaters regenerate incoming electrical, wireless or optical signals. Today, most data transmissions rely on Ethernet or Wi-Fi, both of which can only span a limited distance before the quality of the signal degrades. The goal of the repeater is to help preserve a tolerable signal over long distance while examples like Ethernet or Wi-Fi have trouble to.[48] While repeaters are available for both wired and wireless networks, repeaters for wireless networks are referred to as range extenders. Range extenders are commonly found in homes in order to eliminate "dead zones", or areas where the normal network doesn't offer coverage. A range extender will typically wirelessly connect to the network, then repeat the wireless signal. One of the most reliable and popular ways of increasing the range of a network is through the use of an antenna. Antennas are highly effective because of their ability to convert radio-frequency into alternating current, or vice-versa. The most common type of antenna is the dish antenna, which is used for satellite communications. An example of antennas being used can be seen on an everyday home rooftop, where dish-like antennas are often used for television signal [49]

Review[edit | edit source]

Review Definitions[edit | edit source]

Analog signal: A type of signal where the data is represented by continuous waves.

Bluetooth: A networking standard for very short-range wireless connections; the devices are automatically connected once they get within the allowable range.

Bus Network: A network consisting of a central cable to which all network devices are attached.

Coaxial Cable: A networking cable consisting of a center wire inside a grounded, cylindrical shield, capable of sending data at high speeds.

Ethernet (802.3): A widely used wired LAN networking standard.

Extranet: An intranet that is at least partially accessible to authorized outsiders.

Fiber-Optic Cable: A networking cable that utilizes hundreds of thin transparent fibers over which lasers transmit data as light.

Intranet: A private network that is set up similar to the Internet and is accessed via a Web browser.

Local Area Network (LAN): A network that connects devices located in a small geographical area, such as within a building.

Mesh Network: A network in which there are multiple connections between the devices on the network so that messages can take any of several possible paths.

Modem: A device that enables a computer to communicate over analog networking media, such as connecting to the Internet via telephone lines.

Private Area Network (PAN): A computer network for interconnecting devices centered on an individual persons work space.

Parallel Transmission: A type of data transmission in which bytes of data are transmitted at one time, with the bits in each byte taking a separate path.

Router: A device that connects multiple networks together; routes packets to their next location in order to efficiently reach their destination.

Serial Transmission: A type of data transmission in which the bits in a byte travel down the same path one after the other.

Virtual Private Network (VPN): A private, secure path over the Internet that provides authorized users a secure means of accessing a private network via the Internet.

Wide Area Network: a computer network in which the computers connected may be far apart, generally having a radius of half a mile or more.

Wireless Network: A network in which computers and other devices are connected to the network without physical cables; data is typically sent via radio waves.

Review Questions[edit | edit source]

1.) Third generation computers became smaller and more reliable than earlier computer generations, incorporating multiple transistors and electronic circuits on a singles tiny silicon chip by utilizing ______________.

2.) A small business needs a computer that can act as a server for a number of PCs and handle a number of users running different applications. The class of computer best suited to its needs would be a(n) __________.

3.) Programs designed to perform specific tasks or applications, such as computing bank-account interest, preparing bills, or creating letters, are contained in ____________.

4.) An example of system software is __________________.

5.) PC-compatible and Mac are the two major personal computer ____________.

6.) The purpose of a computer network is to allow computers to _____________.

7.) Computers and the traditional devices that we use every day- such as the telephone, TV, and home entertainment system- have begun to merge into single units with multiple capabilities; this trend is referred to as ____________.

8.) Having a basic understanding of computers and their uses is called _______________.

9.) The four main computer operations are input, output, storage, and _________.

10.) A mobile device based on a mobile phone that can be used to access the Web and e-mail wirelessly, as well as other capabilities such as taking digital photos, is often referred to as a(n) ___________.

Review Answers[edit | edit source]

Answers 1.) Integrated Circuits 2.) Midrange Server 3.) Application Software 4.) Windows, Osx, and Linux 5.) Platforms 6.) Communicate with each other, share software, and share hardware 7.) Convergence 8.) Computer Literacy 9.) Processing 10.) Smartphone [50]

  15. Understand Computers Today and Tomorrow 14th Edition Comprehensive
  16. Understand Computers Today and Tomorrow 14th Edition Comprehensive
  19. Understand Computers Today and Tomorrow 14th Edition Comprehensive


Evolution of the Internet[edit | edit source]


The internet has changed dramatically since its first incarnation. In 1969 the U.S. department of defense created ARPANET.[1] The original concept of this project was to connect researchers located in different places to be able to communicate and collaborate from far distances. The fear of nuclear attack was very prevalent at this time, so the team also wanted to make a network that could still operate after a nuclear attack. Therefore creating many different fail safes, and alternative routes for packet sending was necessary. As this project grew, more and more people gained access to the internet and began shaping it to what we know today. As we have described before, everyone who uses the internet is called an internet user. For these users to obtain access to the internet, you must go through an ISP (internet service provider.) Side note, while the internet is not owned by any one company or government, it is most assuredly not free. It costs money to build, run, and maintain the servers that bring you the funny cat videos.

map of Internet

Internet 2 is an amalgamation of different leaders in the field of academia, technology, industry, and government that formed together in order to collaborate on pioneering and innovative ideas that help advance education and research. They test new network applications and technologies using high-performance networks. Contrary to popular opinion, Internet 2 is not a gathering of minds who intend to replace the current Internet but congregate to ensure that the future Internet will be capable of operating with today's engineering. Internet 2 is currently being upgraded to 8.8 terabytes! This will aide in the ability to offer advanced telemedicine and long distance learning opportunities across connected countries through its network.[2]


The World Wide Web[edit | edit source]

The World Wide Web is different from the Internet. The Internet started out being used more by private industry and people, such as scientists, schools, and the government. The public did not use it for the most part because it was complicated and you had to have a computer to access it, which not everyone could. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee came up with the World Wide Web and thought it would be a great way to organize information and replace the Internet. Although the Internet still exists and still exists today, the World Wide Web was a great tool for researchers at the time. The World Wide Web is not owned by a business or individual, but the Web is owned by it. The Web consists of things like HTML, URLs, and HTTP. HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is used to format documents on the Web. URLs are Uniform Resource Locators, which most of us are familiar with when we type in a Web site address. Finally, HTTP is the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This is what allows people to click on a hyperlink and be redirected to that particular location. The World Wide Web has changed the way how school teach,  businesses operate, and the way ordinary people access organized information.[3] Images and documents are now more readily available, and research and entertainment sites can now be found in one place.[4]

Using the Internet[edit | edit source]

Getting Set Up To Use The Internet[edit | edit source]

Crystal Clear app Internet Connection Tools

Almost every household has access to the internet; therefore, it is important to know how to have access to the world wide web. There are five basic steps to set up an internet connection which consist of the following:

  1. One must connect the hardware. Different hardware and software contain directions in setting up. Use the directions to set up these systems.
  2. The internet needs a wireless connection or an Ethernet cable before it can go online. Therefore, the computer owner must make this connection.
  3. The computer owner must connect to the default IP address. The IP address usually consists of eight numbers, and it is broken up occasionally by periods.
  4. It is the internet's server's responsibility to show the computer owner how to actually establish the connection. One must then set up a name and password for security purposes.
  5. Save the settings, and the internet light will turn green to indicate one is online.[5]

Different Internet Connections[edit | edit source]

There are many different kinds of internet connections. A few of these connections consist of wireless, broadband, and dial-up. Wireless is a router or a network that connects to a hot spot. A broadband is connected directly to a broadband modern, and one needs a user name and password to connect. A dial-up is used remotely via a telephone line.[6] Different types of internet connections come with their own pros and cons and it is important to choose one that will work well with your lifestyle and your wallet.

Dial-up[edit | edit source]

Dial up modem noises

Dial-up connection requires a phone line to function. Because of this, people cannot be using the phone and the internet at the same time. When connecting to the internet via dial-up, the computer tries to connect through the phone line and causes dial-tones and many numerous sounds to emit from the modem. Dial-up is also the slowest form of internet connection and has a maximum speed of 56 kilobits per second. It is also the most archaic type of internet connection and only about 3% of Americans are still using it.[7][8]

Wi-fi Hotspots[edit | edit source]

`Wi-fi hotspots are another form of internet connection in which a wireless access point, such as a router, has a direct connection to the internet and allows people to connect wirelessly through the use of wi-fi. Although they aren’t used very much at home, wi-fi hotspots are often used at locations such as restaurants, hotels, and airports. Many restaurants such offer free wi-fi to entice customers, while others have a fee for using their internet.[9]

Broadband over Fiber[edit | edit source]

Fiber-Optic Cable

A new technology called broadband over fiber (BoF) is a direct connection option for internet access. Internet service providers are starting to adopt this new technology and sell it for a fee.[10] For example, Verizon's version of broadband over fiber is called fiber-optic service (FiOS). FiOS, in particular, is able to provide services such as telephone, television, and internet. BoF is advertised on Verizon's FiOS webpage as a network that, "provides bandwidth to meet today's digital demands and the possibilities of tomorrow."[11] This statement is probably used because BoF's data transfer speeds are much faster than other services. In fact, with fiber-optic cabling, data transfer can travel at the speed of light. One drawback of BoF is that it is very expensive. In order to create a fiber-optic network, you must invest a lot of money in constructing an essential infrastructure. Another negative with broadband over fiber is that the cables are very sensitive. This means that cables can not be installed on telephone poles or underground. Cables must be installed above ground, usually in piping, so that the cables are protected from bending and shifting. BoF is practical and efficient for small networks due to less complex construction of infrastructure. This being said, the United States probably won’t have nation wide BoF networks.[12]

Selecting an ISP[edit | edit source]

There are many different Internet Service Providers, some of the most popular include Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable.[13] When you choose an ISP, there are many factors to take into consideration. Some of those factors include price, type of internet connection you want, speed, customer support, types of devices you use, and cancelation policies.[14]

Fiber Optic Cable

Some internet service providers, such as Verizon and Google, are now starting to offer fiber-optic internet connections. Fiber-optics allows unsurpassed connection speeds, both upload, and download. Fiber-optic internet connections employ Fiber-optic cables that transfer large amounts of data through hundreds of stands of glass or plastic based on entirely light based, optical technology. The technology has existed for many years, but many may have begun to hear that it has become more commonly available over the recent years. After implementing fiber-optics in commercial internet service packages, Internet Service Providers are now able to confidently boast connection speeds exceeding 100 gigabits per second, speeds that are much more desirable to many households as well as businesses.[15] Fiber optic networks are, to no surprise, very expensive.

Large-scale ISPs may not be ready to spend hundreds of millions, if not billions, on citywide fiber networks, so the technical transition to fiber-optic is a lengthy process. Google alone spent over 80 million dollars to reach 150,000 households with their fiber-optic connections. Only a small handful of cities currently have the luxury of a fiber-optic connection, and it may take some years before the technology is available to a majority of households.[16]

Searching the Internet[edit | edit source]

Search Engines[edit | edit source]

Bing, a popular search site owned by Microsoft

Search sites are websites that are specifically created to help search the Internet. Examples include, “Google,” “Bing,” “Yahoo! Search,” and “” There are also many other not as well known search sites. Search sites generally use a search engine, which is a program for the retrieval of data from a database or network. A search engine includes a spider, which goes to every page on every Web site that wants to be searchable and reads it. Then there is a program that creates an index from the pages that have been read. Then a program that receives your search request and compares it to the index, then gives you results.[17] Most search sites today are designed for keyword searches, which is when you type in keywords describing what you are searching for. A directory search is the other kind of search that some sites allow and it uses lists of categories instead of a search box.[18] Many search sites will also contain tools that can be used to find information. Many sites try to present their results as clearly as possible. They will also tend to make suggestions about things that are similar to what you searched that may help you find what you are looking for.[19]

Google Search

When it comes to search sites, there are a few that almost everyone is familiar with. The common phrase, “Google It,” is an indication that Google has become a household name when it comes to search engines. Google boasts an astounding 1,100,000,000 monthly visitors. With numbers like that, it is easy to see why Google has become the household name for search engines. However, few are as familiar with some of the other search sites that are available today that provide the same kind of service that Google does. One of these lesser known search sites is Duck Duck Go. One of this site's great features is that it does not share any of its clients' data with other search sites which makes for less advertisement pop ups and stronger privacy for the user. This has appealed to more and more users after information surfaced that the U.S. has direct access to the servers of major search engine companies allowing the U.S. government to gain knowledge of exactly what people are searching for. This information inspired the founder of Duck Duck Go, Gabriel Weinberg, to start this company in 2008, to ensure the rights and privacy of its users. Gabriel Weinberg was quoted as saying, “Search data is arguably the most personal data people are entering into anything. You’re typing in your problems, your desires. It’s not the same as things you post publicly on social networks.” Duck Duck Go has is a great alternative to larger search engines and for users who really value their privacy.[20]

DuckDuckGo zero-click info

Search Strategies[edit | edit source]

Icon search updates 96x96

Searching for particular information can be fun but also can be very frustrating. Here are few different search strategies which can help to find the information needed, such as simple, complex, phrase, natural language and default Boolean Logic searching. Simple searching is the easiest method of using a search tool.[21] The user can type one or more key words (spelling counts) in the search box then click on the search button. Complex searching is using Boolean Logic[22] to improve search efficiency. The words such as AND, OR, and NOT are entered between keywords to refine the search. In phrase searching, a user should enclose quotation marks when searching for specific phrase. Most search engines like Google, Bing, and such recognize this protocol. Natural Language searching is allowing a user to type a sentence or question just the way he/she might like and the search tool will try to determine key words and locate pages based on these words. Default Boolean Logic searching allows a user to type key words as in simple search. Search tool, depends on its default, will use OR or NOT. If a user is tired of typing, she/he can click on the microphone icon in the Google app or Chrome’s search box to search by voice.[23]

Beyond Browsing and Email[edit | edit source]

Examples of instant messaging applications

Instant Messaging and Text Messaging[edit | edit source]

Communication is quite possibly the most important tool that humans can hone. While e-mails are a fast and environmentally-friendly method of Internet-based communication, there are two types of messaging that are faster and easier. These two types of messaging are: instant messaging and text messaging. Instant messaging, also referred to as chat, allows you to type out a message on your keyboard and then press 'enter' to have it sent immediately to the other party. Unlike emails, where you have to wait for the other person to be around at their computer to read the message, and THAT is assuming your email didn't get lost because of a faulty spam filter, IM's create a connection that is almost as good as being in the same room with the friend. To instant message a friend, you typically both need the same IM client, of which there are many free varieties such as AIM, MSN, YIM, and Skype.

Text messaging, which is also called SMS (Short Message Service), used to be the most popular means of speedy communication though it has been on the decline.[24] Text messaging allows users to send fast and typically short notes with their cellular phones. While text messaging used to be quite expensive, majority of cellular plans sold today include unlimited texting.[25] Text messages, like emails, need to be waited for and can sometimes not make it to the right place without a glitch. Instant messengers, however, tend to have a better track record.

Online Shopping: Amazon and More[edit | edit source]

Amazon Box

Online shopping is so convenient for many who are on the go. There are no hours of operation to abide by, no lines to wait in, and consumers do not even have to leave the comfort of their own home to get what they want. There are some downsides of online shopping, such as not being able to try on clothes to see if it is the right size. The largest online retailer is Shoppers seems to go-to website for all online shopping needs. The retailer started as an online book store, but now offers purses, electronics, movies, music, and even sports equipment, just to name a few. Sellers can create accounts fairly easy and try to sell their goods. Buyers need to be the cautious ones and look into the reviews to see who they are buying from. One advantage of shopping with Amazon is that they have an A-Z guarantee that helps the buyers resolve conflict with the sellers.[26] Amazon expanded their services to include areas such as Amazon Art, Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Prime, Amazon Local, Amazon Wireless, Amazon Fresh, and Amapedia. One controversy that comes up with, as well as online shopping, is that consumers are not paying their true county sales tax. Instead they are paying the sales tax that Amazon collects.To challenge Amazon, Google has decided to start to expand its e-commerce role. Google wants to compete with amazon and their ability to sell merchandise around the world. Google is allowing consumers to search for something and Google would tell them if there is somewhere nearby to purchase that item. It is a great retaliation against amazon. They would charge $95 a year or $10 a month, or pay $4.99 per order. Google is also offering overnight shipping.[27]

Online Banking[edit | edit source]

Online Banking has become increasingly popular in this tech-savvy generation. Most banks now allow transactions to be done online through their website or through phone apps. While some people question the security of making transactions online, the biggest advantage is that online banking is very convenient. People can set up accounts through a few simple steps, can make transactions between different accounts they have, transfer money, make payments on credit cards, and more. Some only-online banks have formed and are gaining popularity because they have less fees and thus are cheaper. Some banks try to offer deals with higher yield to make online banking more appealing. Lastly, it is handy to have 24/7 access to speedy transactions, which traditional banks cannot offer. Online banking did have a shaky start, but now it is growing quickly.[28] According the Bankrate website, 65% of consumers use online banking.

Pros and Cons[edit | edit source]

File:MOL Official Logo.jpg
Money Online Logo

In the last few years, online banking has become increasingly mainstream. For some, it is the new norm, as having to make daily or weekly trips to the bank can be both unpleasant and inefficient. For the most part, online banking is advantageous -- and though the pros certainly outweigh the cons, no system is flawless.

First, an obvious pro is convenience. An ability to pay the majority of bills online, whether it is through a checking, savings, money market account, etc. is something that is necessary in our fast-paced, demanding world. Many creditors offer an automatic plans to ensure customers are not charged penalties if they forget to pay a bill. In addition, there is also mobile capability. Most banks feature mobile-friendly websites that allow customers to bank on-the-go. The applications banks offer are typically free, and are being implemented with new features all the time in an effort to expand availability to smartphone users. Lastly, the ease of navigation is comparable to that of any other website. To prevent or assist with issues, most banks have 24-hour live customer service or e-mail customer service.

The most significant con to online banking is security, with computer hacking and identity theft being such widespread problems. Despite the best security measures, there is always risk that someone, somewhere will be able to gain access to your bank account and/or sensitive information. Another concern is transaction issues. There are some aspects of banking that should be done behind a teller’s desk instead of a monitor or screen. Depositing cash, certain types of international deals, and similar difficulties may be challenging to address or solve via the internet. Another, less threatening issue for those who frequently make impulse purchases or budget poorly is a lack of money management, as instant access to a balance can precipitate irresponsibility. [29]

Social Media[edit | edit source]

Voip HowItWorks 0203v2

Besides texting, instant messaging, and online shopping, there are hundreds of other things you can use the Web for. One of the main things people use it for today is social media. Things from Facebook and Twitter to email and online newspapers are all forms of social media, or sites used to share information to groups of people over the Internet. The problem with the huge explosion that has been the beginning of the social media era is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe information posted online. The Internet has evolved so much that now we are able to even perform video and telephone functions through it. Sites like Skype are taking advantage of this technology. According to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) the technology used by Skype, Vonage, and other similar Companies is called VoIP. They define this technology as one “that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line”.[30] Essentially, performing telephone functions through the Internet is VoIP. Social Media has seemingly encompassed the younger generations of today; while it has been slower to catch on with the older generations, it is something that has been increasing over time. Skype had recently acquired a newer company called Qik and plans on dominating the new way for people to communicate using mobile video messaging. Skype Qik is supposed to be very simple, and it is exactly like texting but all video. A person can send a Qik video to anyone and they do not even have to have the app. These conversations are asynchronous and Skype Qik is a great idea for communication since things like Facetime have been a big trend. The thing with Facetime though is that someone has to answer the phone and both people need to use it at the same time; with Skype Qik people have the ability to have that type of video interaction but at no specific time. Skype Qik was developed by Microsoft, and is available on a PC or Mac, and for the iPhone, Android, or Windows phone.[31]

Another popular social media app is Snapchat. This app allows people to send pictures, videos, and texts, just like other apps, but the catch is that once the picture/video/text is opened, it disappears after the set amount of time and cannot be see again. Snapchat has many features which make Snapchat photos and videos more fun and interesting than on other apps. Such features include filters, different text fonts, and the ability to draw on the pictures/videos with different colors. In addition to these original features, Snapchat has added a feature called “My Story” where users can create a chain or video of multiple pictures and videos combined. This story is not sent to one specific person, rather any of the user’s friends can see it; the set time in this feature determines how long the picture shows in the “slide show” and the story is available for only twenty-four hours. The latest feature is “geolocation” which can give you the time, weather, miles per hour, or other site-specific filters based on your location.[32]

RSS and Podcasts[edit | edit source]

Almost every popular website will have this RSS logo.

First invented by Netscape, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is an online tool designed to quickly distribute new articles and other content when it is changed or added to. The reason for its invention was because it was an easy way for Netscape to share headlines and stories from other sites, and automatically add it to their own. To help people keep updated on their favorite websites, RSS uses an XML code that constantly scans a website and then broadcasts those updates to all the subscribers through its RSS feed. Subscribing to an RSS feed—usually for free—is fairly simple, as all one has to do is sign up with a feed aggregator, which will store all of one’s RSS subscriptions, and then click the subscribe link on the associated Web page. Finally, its feed content will automatically be added to their browser feed list, similar to the Favorites Feed list in Internet Explorer. For better accessibility for today’s evolving generation, RSS feeds can also be delivered to mobile phones and maybe even directly to televisions sometime in the future. [33]

Another simple way to gather useful information from the Web is a Podcast, which is simply a recorded audio or video file that can be downloaded from the Web. Derived from the combination of the words “broadcasting” and “iPod,” podcasting is a form of audio broadcasting, which can be listened on one’s iPod. However, this is not a limitation since podcasts also be listened to on computers via the Windows Media Player or iTunes, or smartphones. The difference between podcasting and simply downloading and listening to music online is the fact that with podcasting, files come to you through syndication, instead of the other way around. Much like the blogs and websites mentioned previously, podcasts can be subscribed to in order to download new podcasts whenever they become available. [34]

Online Testing[edit | edit source]

Online testing is becoming a new alternative for taking tests in this technology-based world that we live in nowadays. Online tests can be used for both objective tests, like multiple choice or true/false, or performance-based tests, like a concussion test. The state of Washington started using online testing in the spring of 2010 to administer tests of math and science for grades 3-8.[35] This testing format creates more options for a teacher’s curriculum. Usually, one or two days are necessary to complete a test in class, but with an online test, no class days are taken up. This allows for the teacher to either go more in-depth on topics, allow for more Q&A during class room time to make sure his or her students understand the material, more time to prepare for an online test day, or it allows for more material to be covered. All of these options are great for the education system because students gain more knowledge from their tuition. One problem with online testing is security. How would a teacher know if the right student is taking the test, if the student is looking online or using another person to help them? To overcome this obstacle, technology companies are creating devices like the Securexam Remote Proctor system that takes a 360-degree image of the room and uploads it to a server where the teacher of the class can view it. All in all, online testing is the wave of the future for the education system with testing.

Blogs, Wikis, and Other Types of Online Writing[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia logo

A blog is a Web page that contains short, frequent updated entries in chronological order, typically as a means of expression or communication. Blogs can be written by anyone, including ordinary people, celebrities, or even experts of certain fields. As blogs become more and more popular, commercial advertising begins to be commonly seen on more of the popular blogs. Some of the most popular blogs are websites that offer information or helpful tips to their readers. For example, as of October 2014, the top three most popular blogs are: Huffington Post, TMZ, Business insider.[36] Another form of online writing, most often used for education purposes, is the wiki. Wikis are a way of creating and editing collaborative Web pages quickly and easily. Unlike a blog, wikis are meant to be edited by anyone, not just the owner of the typed information. One of the largest wikis is Wikipedia(Wikibooks is an example of a wiki too). While wikis are helpful and collaborative, erroneous information can be added intentionally. As a result, it is recommended to be careful when fully trusting a wiki page. Another type of online writing is an e-portfolio. An electronic portfolio is a collection of an individual's work accessible through a website. Today. e-portfolios are commonly linked to student-related information, such as resumes, papers, or projects.

Online Gaming[edit | edit source]

2008 Intel Developer Forum Taiwan Day2 MID Keynote Online Game Demonstration

Everywhere you look, young people are using smartphones, notebook computers, iPads, etc. Often, they are not just using these devices for school research, homework, or studying. Young people can be seen playing games on computing devices as young as 3 years old. Online gaming is a rapid habit that is starting from a very young age. Often, the habit carries into the young adult years for many individuals. Nowadays, there are whole web sites whose sole purpose is hosting games that can be played online. Online games can be played alone or with other individuals who are also online. The games that are designed to be played by multiple players are called online multiplayer games. Some examples of online multiplayer games are Doom, EverQuest, Final Fantasy, City of Heroes, and World of Warcraft. Also, gaming devices, such as, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii, are deigned to be Internet-enabled so they can be connected to the Internet to play with other players. Online gaming has also been associated with Internet addiction. An article about online gaming addiction in The Kernel, states that often individuals are playing online games 12 hours a day. The article explains that individuals that develop online gaming addiction lose jobs and loved ones, have withdrawal symptoms, and develop migraines and back problems. The article states that it is a very real problem and will potentially continue to grow in the population as the Internet becomes more readily available to more and more people.[37]

Video Chatting[edit | edit source]

Facetime Logo

Video calls have played a major part in science fiction for decades. They were a major part of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, and many other films and TV shows of that genre. Now, video chatting capabilities are found as standard on most desktops, and mobile devices. On of the most well known programs, and the program that pioneered video chatting, is Microsoft’s Skype. In recent years, Skype has been joined by Apple’s Facetime, and a video chat program embedded in Google Hangouts. Skype is compatible with Microsoft, Mac, and Linux computers, and there is and app for mobile devices. Facetime however, is only available on Apple devices, although the company has promised to make it compatible with other devices at some point. Google Hangouts, being a part of Google online app suite, is available as long as the user is able to access the Internet. There are other free source programs, but these three are the most common and the most trusted by security programs. Some free source options that now have become very popular is Facebook's Messenger App and WhatsApp; these are both available for download on most smartphones. Video chatting was touted as a futuristic ideal, but in recent years, this has not held true. Video chatting use has decline in favor of texting and online testing apps. These may be the future as opposed to video chatting. [38]

Censorship and Privacy[edit | edit source]

Censorship[edit | edit source]

Censorship is the control of the information distributed within a society and has been a sense of dictatorships throughout time. It’s the suppression of offensive expressions that are used for when people want to provoke their personal political or values to another group. Typically now censorship is filtered by the government to control the information that is given to the public. Censorship by the government is typically unconstitutional because of the freedom of speech and is highly fought against in the First Amendment. However, other countries routinely censor information and have strict rules against their citizens posting information that the authorities do not like, for example, China and North Korea. On another note, when individuals in US are on strike or boycott an event they are protected by the First Amendment which can be dangerous but they are still known to be protected. Some private censorship campaigns are best countered by groups and individuals speaking out and organizing in defense of the threatened expression.[39][40]

Fighting Internet Censorship[edit | edit source]

TOR logo.

Internet users who live in countries where the government tries to block or inhibit Internet use can still sometimes access material that is supposed to be forbidden. One way to do this is via a proxy, where Internet connectivity is routed through another server. If, for example, Facebook is blocked, an Internet user can use connect to a proxy server that, in turn, connects to Facebook, giving the user access to Facebook without directly connecting to it.[41] A VPN (Virtual Private Network) can also be used to bypass such laws; however, different providers provide different layers of security (some do not log any information, some providers encrypt whatever is sent etc), and it is generally better to pay for one than try to use a free VPN. There is also a browser dedicated specifically to Internet activity known as TOR for "The Onion Router", which proves multiple layers of encryption, like layers of an onion, as the data people are submitting or accessing is routed through multiple different 'nodes' and encrypted in between each one. The idea is that this will provide total anonymity, so that people cannot be tied to their access of or posts on certain websites. While it is sometimes given a negative connotation as a tool only for criminals, TOR is actually incredibly useful for people in countries whose governments are trying to oppress their citizens' freedoms of speech and press.[42] In short, while it is not easy or necessarily safe for people in these nations to access everything they should be able to access on the Internet, it is possible, and there are some means of circumventing government censorship of the Internet, which is not always holeproof.

Web Browsing Privacy[edit | edit source]

Knowledge of internet privacy is vital

Privacy is of great importance to all users of the Internet. According to Wikipedia, internet privacy involves the right or mandate of personal privacy concerning the sorting, repurposing, provision to third-parties, and displaying of information pertaining to oneself via the Internet.[43] This has been a subject of concern for decades. For example, one article that addresses the potential implications of privacy and computer dates back to 1965.[44] While it is certain that privacy can be infringed, a simple awareness of how exactly certain processes, like using a search engine, interact with a user can be help deal with some of these concerns.

When one uses a search engine, such as Google, small files known as cookies are created to help identify preferences for the user. This enables a more accurate and quicker response when beginning a new session. To put this into context, cookies can help retrieve information like what was in a shopping cart for a previous session. However, third-party cookies can be more of an issue to some. Companies use these cookies to target advertisements towards users depending on their browsing patterns. Using the Internet Options in Internet Explorer (for Windows) can help one decide what types of cookies can be allowed as well as delete all cookies off the hard drive.

A more serious threat to internet privacy is spyware, which refers to any software that is installed without knowledge of the user that obtains information about that user through an Internet connection. The degree to which these programs can cause harm range from simple annoyances (e.g. setting a homepage to something else) to full-scale threats on system integrity (e.g. rewriting the Windows registry to restrict the user from changing the homepage back to its original state).

Adware, while related to spyware, is less harmful. Adware is usually installed alongside other software, and this leads to advertisements that appear on-screen. This can be installed without prior knowledge during the installation of another program by not reading the licensing agreements that came with the program. Therefore it is important to read carefully the agreement to ensure unwanted software is kept away from the computer.

A simple diagram of how proxies work

In order to prevent personal information from being compromised and to keep your computer and internet running smoothly there are several precautions that should be taken to ensure that your web browsing experience is a safe and private one. Perhaps the easiest method to do this is by activating private browsing on your internet browser application. Once turned on the browser can not save any files or data to your local machine, including cookies, cache, and history. If you are using regular browsing, these files can still be deleted through your browser or another application. Disposing of these files ensures that online sites cannot track your activity on the web. You can also use programs to ensure that you are not being targeted for certain advertisements because of your browsing history, a common occurrence in the modern marketing age. To be very anonymous on the internet, a Tor network can be setup that encrypts the data you are sending so that your IP address is not compromised.[45] Another similar method is proxies, which are intermediates that receive and deliver information requested. This keeps your personal computer information private as the server is technically the one making the request, not you.[46]

E-mail Privacy[edit | edit source]

Gmail Controversy

It is extremely important to always make sure that any important or confidential information being shared over the Internet is being done in a private and confidential way. One of the unfortunate downfalls to everything being done electronically today is that we lose a sense of privacy. Things are much easier to attain on the Internet, and sadly there are hackers out there who spend their time trying to break into and gain access to this confidential information. If you are going to send important information electronically, it is necessary that you send it in an encrypted message. Encrypted messages make it so that others cannot hack into your e-mails and read what you are saying. One of the more recent controversies with privacy in e-mailing has to do with Google mail. Google has come out saying that they should be able to read the information sent by any of its Gmail users. People find issue with this because they are gaining personal and confidential information that individuals do not want out there. The purpose of sending a specific email to a specific individual is so that it can be done in privacy, with the hopes that only that recipient will receive it. However, today this is unfortunately not the case, and if you are going to send mail electronically, one needs to proceed with caution.[47]

Review[edit | edit source]

Review Definitions[edit | edit source]

Mobile Phone:A phone such as a cellular, or satellite phone that uses a wireless network.

Cell Phone:A mobile phone that communicates via a cellular network.

Satellite Phone:A mobile phone that communicates via satellite technology.

Dual-Mode Phone:A mobile phone that can be used with more than one communications network, such as with both a cellular and Wi-Fi network.

Global Position System (GPS:A system that uses satellites and a receiver to determine the exact geographic location of the receiver.

Videoconferencing:The use of computers, video cameras, microphones, and networking technologies to conduct face-to-face meetings over a network.

Telecommuting:The use of computers and networking technology to enable an individual to work from a remote location.

Telesurgery:A form of robot-assisted surgery in which the doctor's physical location is different from the patient's physical location and the doctor controls the robot remotely over the Internet or another network.

Telemedicine:The use of networking technology from the location of the doctor to provide medical information and services to the patient in a different location.

Wireless Network:A network in which computers and other devices are connected to the network without physical cables; data is typically sent via radio waves.

Star Network:A network that uses a host device connected directly to several other devices.

Bus Network:A network consistent of a central cable to which all network devices are attached.

Mesh Network:A network in which there are multiple connections between the devices on the network so that messages can take any of several possible paths.

Personal Area Networks (PANs):A network that connects an individuals's personal devices that are located close together.

Local Area Networks (LANs):A network that connects devices located in a small geographical area, such as within a building.

Wide Area Networks (WANs):A network that connects devices located in a large geographical area.


Intranet:A private network that is set up similar to the Internet and is accessed via a Web browser.

Extranet:An intranet that is at least partially accessible to authorized outsiders.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs):A private, secure path over the Internet that provides authorized users a secure means of accessing a private network via the Internet.

Analog Signal:A type of signal where the data is represented by continuous waves.

Digital Signal:A type of signal where the data is represented by 0s and 1s.

Serial Transmission:A type of data transmission in which the bits in a byte travel down the same path one after the other.

Parallel Transmission:A type of data transmission in which bytes of data are transmitted at one time, with the bits in each byte taking a separate path.

Twisted-Pair Cable:A networking cable consisting of wire strands twisted in sets of two and bound into a cable.

Coaxial Cable:A networking cable consisting of a center wire inside a grounded, cylindrical shield, capable of sending data at high speeds.

Fiber Optic:A networking cable that utilizes hundreds of thin transparent glass fibers over which lasers transmit data as light.

Cellular Radio:A form of broadcast radio designed for use with cellular telephones that broadcasts using antennas located inside honeycomb-shaped cells.

Microwave Station:An earth-based device that sends and receives high-frequency, high-speed radio signals.

Communications Satellite:An earth-orbiting device that relays communications signals over long distances

Infrared (IR) Transmissions:A wireless networking medium that sends data as infrared light waves.

TCP/IP:A networking protocol that uses packet switching to facilitate the transmission of messages; the protocol used with th Internet.

Ethernet:A widely used wired LAN networking standard.

Wi-Fi:A facility allowing computers, smartphones, or other devices to connect to the Internet or communicate with one another wirelessly within a particular area.

WiMax:An emerging wireless networking standard that is faster and has a greater range than Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi Direct:A standard for connecting Wi-Fi devices directly, without using a router or an access point

Bluetooth:A networking standard for very short-ranged wireless connections; the devices are automatically connected once they get within the allowable range.

Ultra Wideband (UWB):A networking standard for very short-range wireless connections among multimedia devices.

WirelessHD:An emerging wireless networking specification designed for connecting home consumer devices.

Wireless USB:A wireless version of USB designed to connect peripheral devices.

TransferJet:A networking standard for very short=range wireless connections between devices; devices need to touch in order to communicate.

Network Adapter:A network interface, such as an expansion card or external network adapter.

Network Interface Card (NIC):An expansion card through which a computer can connect to a network.

Modem:A device that enables a computer to communicate over analog networking media, such as connecting to the Internet via telephone lines.

Switch:A device used to connect multiple devices on a single (typically wired) network; forwards packets to only the intended recipient.

Router:A device that connects multiple networks together; routes packets to their next location in order to efficiently reach their destination.

Wireless Access Point (WAP):A device on a wireless network that connects wireless devices to that network.

Wireless Router:A router with a built-in wireless access point; most often used to connect wireless devices to a network and an Internet connection and often contains a built-in switch.

Bridge:A device used to bridge or connect two LANs; most often used to connect wired devices wirelessly to a network.

Repeater:A device on a network that receives a signal and retransmits it.

Range Extenders:A repeater for a wireless network.

Antennas:A device used for receiving or sending radio signals; often used to increase the range of a network.

TOR: "The Onion Router" a browser dedicated specifically to Internet activity which proves multiple layers of encryption, like layers of an onion, as the data people are submitting or accessing is routed through multiple different 'nodes' and encrypted in between each one.

Review Questions[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]