A computer is an electronic machine that accepts data, stores and processes data into information. The computer is able to work because there are instructions in its memory directing it.

The parts of the computer that you can see and touch, such as the keyboard, monitor and the mouse are called hardware. The instructions that direct the computer are called software or computer program.

Data which is raw facts that you the user enter into the computer is called input. This includes; words, numbers, sound and pictures. When the data is entered into the computer, the computer processes the data to produce information which is output. For example, you enter 2+2 into the computer as data, the computer processes it and the result is 4 which is information.

Computers are usually categories into three general categories:

1.Supercomputer The fastest, largest, most powerful and most expensive computer.

2.Mainframe Computer This is a little smaller and less powerful than the supercomputer, but, like the supercomputer it is also expensive.

3.Personal Computer (PC)- This is the computer that most people use in their daily lives. This computer is much smaller, less powerful and less expensive than the supercomputer and the mainframe computer. There are two main types of personal computers. Macintosh (Macs) and the PC compatibles (PC). The main differences between the two are the operating systems and the processor they use. This category of computer has two additional types of computers. These are mobile computer and handheld computer. The most popular type of mobile computer is the notebook or laptop computer, and the handheld computer is a very small PC that you can hold in your hand.

It is important to note that, any computer; regardless of its size has an input device, output device and a system unit.

Click to read about the history of the computer Computer History

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Copyright 2006 by Beverley Steitz