What Do You Need To Know?

Why is computer literacy important? Our world is becoming more automated which means, devices are being equipped with the same key components as a computer. In order to be a smart consumer, user or developer of technology, you need some basic computer knowledge. This page will give you links to information for you to learn the basics. This is what you need to gather from this experience:

What is a System?


Like any system, including a computer system, baking a cake is a system with Inputs, Processing and Outputs. Inputs are ingredients, processing is following the steps of a recipe and output is a cake. Inputs are "raw" and have little value by themselves. If the steps are accurate, the inputs are combined to produce something that has meaning or value, which is the output. In this case a delicious cake. What are the Inputs - Processing - Outputs of a computer? Watch this video on a System

What is the "Brain" of the Computer?

The Central Processing Unit (CPU)? It is the "process" inside the system. All the hardware would do nothing without the CPU. The CPU is located on the Motherboard. Checkout on this page what a Motherboard is. Back to the CPU, follow this link to read and watch a video about the CPU


Here is the motherboard. It is inside every computer. It holds all the parts of the machine (inputs - processing - output) so that the parts can communicate with each other to make the system work. Every part of a computer MUST be connected to the motherboard. Even if the device is external to the machine. External device connect via ports, like USB port.

What is Memory?

The CPU can't work without having work to do. Memory stores what the CPU works on. Like the CPU, it is on the motherboard. Memory also has many other names, such as RAM. What is RAM? In addition to RAM, there is ROM. ROM is "Read-Only Memory" and as the name says, you can only read it, not write to it. It stores the basic instructions to make the hardware work. Memory is storage, specifically RAM is temporary. Turn the machine off, it is lost. Other storage, such as a hard drive, is permanent, until you delete it. Read more about the differences in storage.

What Are Peripherals?

That is a fancy name for some very simple things. Peripherals are any device not inside the computer. It is connected to the inside (remember that Motherboard, everything must be connected to the motherboard). So how are these devices connected? By ports. There are many types of ports to account for many types of peripherals. You probably only use one or two, depending on your computer. USB, Firewire, or Thunderbolt? They are the most common, but there are others. Even wireless connects are through ports, for example Bluetooth. What is an input/output device? Think of how you use devices such as keyboard or screen. You type what you see on the screen. How does it get from the keyboard to the screen. Yes, the CPU. So, input is the keyboard, CPU is the processing and screen is the output.

A Few Words About Software...

All this talk about hardware, what about Software? Software solves a problem. We have two problems, "how to make the computer work?" and "how to be productive using the computer?" this video explains Software and talks about two types, Operating Systems (OS) and Application Software. Both solve a problem. OS makes hardware work and Application software (or "app") solve specific problems/needs of a person using the computer (user). What is an Operating System? What is Application Software? Both are created by Programmers. Programming is easy. You just need to learn a language like HTML, Java, Visual Basic and so many more. Have you learned to speak another language? Learning a programming language is much the same. By the way, in the analogy of making a cake, what is the software? If you said recipe, you are right. Software is instructions.

What Is The Language Of A Computer?

The language of a computer is really the language of our digital world.  Anything that we use that is "digital" which is EVERYTHING electronic, is digital. Binary is the language of all things digital.  It is simply two states. 1 or 0, on or off. Did you notice at the beginning of the video that parts were fuzzy and then parts were crisp.   Because there is only two states, Binary is clearer! Thus our digital world is clearer (video, voice, etc.)  Here is a historical view of bits and bytes.   What has changed about computers and storage over time?

Put It All Together

Here is a video from TedEd that will tell you how all the components (inputs, process, outputs) work together.   How does a Computer Work?

Some Laws of Technology

Laws?  Like any science, laws are set of rules that have been proven to hold true.  One important law of technology is Moore's Law.  Moore, Intel co-founder, in 1965 discovered a correlation between the number transistors in a chip and the processing power over time.  It was growing at a consistent rate.   Why is Moore's Law important? Cost seems obvious but if you can keep packing more into the same space without increasing size, then technology gets smaller? Not only do the chips get smaller, but the devices that have the chips get smaller. How small can the chips and devices get? Who knows. What happens if Moore's law is broken? Oh no, Apple won't create a new device! Will innovation stop? That is the big question. Oh, there are other laws. Google "Dunbar Number" and then check your Social Media. How many "friends" do you have?

What is a Network?

A network is simply computer and peripheral connected to together for communication. Because of networks, we share! Share data, files, pictures, video, and peripheral devices (remember what that is, right!) A network can be as small as two computer or as big as the Internet.

Data versus Information

Remember Systems take inputs and process them into useful outputs. A computer takes Data and processes it into useful information. What is the difference between data and information? Data is raw, like the ingredients for a recipe and Information has value like a cake. Think of a bank statement. Alone, one transaction such as a withdrawal of $20 is insignificant but many withdrawals combined with few deposits collectively tell us the balance in the bank account. That has meaning. Knowledge runs deeper. It is seeing patterns that can predict things, such as fraud or growth. Banks use knowledge to determine if credit cards have been stolen. Wisdom, is taking patterns and applying them to something new. This is the hierarchy of information.

What Is A Pixel?

A picture is composed of colors. If you look at the properties of a picture, it will give you a size of the width and height. For example 500 by 400. This is the number of pixels that make up the picture. Like a grid, there are 500 pixels across and 400 pixels down each of the 500 across. A total of 20,000 pixels. Each pixel represents a single color. If you stretch an image to be larger than defined, you can see each pixel. Most pixels are composed of Red, Green and Blue. If there is no Green or Blue, it will be pure Red. Pictures can't be printed larger than their original size without looking grainy. If you print it smaller, the quality is preserved.

Review Before The Quiz?

Just in case, let's review one more time. This is a timed slide show, so just relax, because it will change slides on its own.