ITEC1001 Section 1 and 19 August 22, 2007 Notes

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Definition of a computer

A computer is an electronic device that takes input, processes it, and gives output. Computers also have storage.

Examples include: embedded, supercomputers, laptop, desktop, mainframe, PDAs, game console, cell phones, cd player (when there is storage), mp3 player, iPod.

Difference between data and information

Data is unprocessed while information is processed to be understood by humans.

Advantages & disadvantages of computer use


  • More reliable than human memory (most of the time)
  • Faster at processing data than humans
  • Massive storage of information and data possible
  • Provide entertainment
  • Make communication and education easier
  • Helps keep people organized
  • Helps share information (like on this wiki)
  • Control traffic, robots and other devices
  • Research
  • Helps you get where you are going (mapquest)
  • Makes it cheaper to move information around
  • Eliminates the need for certain types of labor in the work force (takes away jobs)


  • Can expose private information
  • Communication not always reliable
  • Health risks such as carpal tunnel
  • Requires too frequent maintenance
  • Eliminates the need for certain types of labor in the work force (takes away jobs)
  • Impacts the environment by wasted energy use
  • Takes time away from social activities
  • If one thing breaks, the whole computer does not work (can be fragile)


Input devices

Definition - used to put data into the computer.

Examples: keyboard, card reader, mouse, scanner, microphone, camera.

Device is synonymous to hardware.

Output devices

Definition - hardware to get data and information out of the computer.

Examples: monitor, printer, speakers, fm transmitter.

System unit

Definition - hardware that controls and interfaces to the various pieces of hardware.

Example: motherboard.

Storage devices

Definition - used to retain and obtain data.

Examples: hard drive, dvd, flash drive, cd, floppy disk (5.25" and 3.5") , punch card, magnetic strip, RFID tag, tape, cartridges.

Communication devices

Definition: hardware for I/O (Input/Output)

Examples: modem, wireless card/router, bus, usb cord.


Definition - a bunch of computers connected together.

Examples: WAN, LAN, Internet, intranet, mobile phone networks.


The programs on a computer are software, but the physical parts of a computer are hardware.


System software enables application software to function. System software is your operating system (like Linux, Windows, OS X, UNIX, MS-DOS). System software coordinates the hardware devices and makes them easier to interface with.


Higher level than system software, directed toward the user. Examples Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Skype, Photoshop, Firefox, Mozilla.

Computer Categories


Usually more stationary, not hand held, but smaller than a table. Usually have separate piece that connect and disconnect like mouse, keyboard, monitor.


Small enough to move easily, more compact hardware (devices don't usually disconnect, solid state). Usually smaller memory and slower processor, and slower communications and more expensive relative to memory/speed.


Tend to have a controller input device. Limited on number of input devices used (formats are typically proprietary). Not general purpose computing. Multiple users over networks are the direction they are moving toward.


Not for personal use, tends not to have keyboard and monitor as I/O devices. Print servers, file servers, web servers.


Big computer (size and processing power). Typically used by businesses.


Massive, fast computer with lots of memory.


Can't see them typically because they are fully inside something else. Cars often have them as well as most modern kitchen appliances. RFID chips.

Computer Usage


Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) includes any company with fewer that fifty employees, as well as the self-employed who work from home.

Examples of SOHO users include:

  • Local Law Practices
  • Accounting Firms
  • Travel Agencies
  • Florists


Mobile Users work on the computer while away from a main office or school.

Examples of mobile users include:

  • Sales Representatives
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Insurance Agents
  • Meter Readers
  • Package Delivery People
  • Journalists
  • Students


Power Users require the capabilities of a powerful desktop computer, called a workstation.

Examples of power users include:

  • Engineers
  • Scientists
  • Architects
  • Desktop Publishers
  • Graphic Artists

Large Business

A Large Buiness User is an employee or customer who uses a computer in a large buisness.

Computers in Society


Computers have had a huge impact on education in the past decade. Nearly all school systems have intranets, where students can log in and access their own files throughout the school. Also we are seeing more and more students nowadays using digital slideshows such as PowerPoint instead of the old-fashioned posters and display boards.


With available functions such as online banking and online investing combined with extensive capability for retaining information, computers help companies and individuals manage their finances more efficiently.


Citizens may use government websites to file taxes, apply for permits and licenses, pay parking tickets, register to vote...Government sites provide the people with current information. The military and other agency officials use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's network of information about domestic security threats to help protect our nation.

Health Care

Patient records are kept on file by a computer, computers monitor sick patients from the hospital or from home, computers help with research and diagnosis, doctors communicate by email to patients. The pharmacy also uses computers to keep track of each patients medications to ensure that you aren't prescribed medications that might not interact well together. Pharmacists also use computers to file insurance claims.


Computers assist with collecting, analyzing, and modeling data.


Special software is available for graphic designers who arrange text and pictures for publishing. Authors may publish online.


Computers have changed the world of travel in recent years. Passengers can now book their flights online, and in some cases print their own boarding passes. Weather also affects travel in some cases, and people can now easily check the weather forecast online instead of waiting on the local Meteorologist. Many kinds of maps are available online. Websites such as MapQuest can even give you maps and directions from place to place, but is not necessarily 100% reliable. Computers are on their way to dramatically changing the world of travel.The CDC has a travel reccommendations website that is helpful in knowing what vaccinations or shots may be required for travel to different countries around the world.


Computer-aided manufacturing, or CAM, refers to the use of computers to assist with manufacturing processes such as fabrication and assembly. Many times, robots carry out the processes and industries involved include oil drilling, power generation, food production and automobile manufacturing.

Personal tools