The Basics of How Computers Work

A Computer is an electronic device used for making simple and complex calculations, analyses, storing, sorting, processing and retrieving of data, plotting graphical designs and sketches as well as many other tasks that is always on the increase.

Computers range from the very small to the very large. Some are capable of doing millions of calculations in a single second, while others may take long periods of time to do even the most simple calculations. But theoretically, anything one computer is capable of doing, another computer will also be able to do. Given the right instructions, and sufficient memory, a computer found in a wristwatch should be able to accomplish anything a supercomputer can – although it might take thousands of years for the wristwatch to complete the operation.

At one time, computers were extremely large, and required enormous amounts of power. This made them useful only for a small amount of tasks – computing trajectories for astronomical or military applications, for example, or code breaking. Over time, with technological advances, the computer was scaled down and its energy requirements lowered immensely. This allowed the power of the computer to be harnessed for a staggering array of uses.

As prevalent as personal computers are, they do not nearly begin to scratch the surface of computer use in our world. Interactive devices of all sorts contain their own computers. Cellular telephones, GPS units, portable organizers, ATM machines, gas pumps, and millions of other devices all make use of computers to streamline their operations, and to offer features which would be impossible without a computer.

List the Four Parts of a Computer System

Arithmetic and Logic Unit

Central Processing Unit



Some however refer hardware components as the main parts of computer system, in that case, these are (a) Computer (CPU) (b) Monitor (VDU) (c) Keyboard (d) Mouse

Identify four types of Computer Hardware





2. Name and describe three types of storage devices

Hard Disk – It is the Main Storage device in the Computer and holds the Operating System as well as other application software installed by the user. It also hold the user files. As such, it is an inevitable part of the computer system.

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Compact Disk (CD) – It is a removable storage device on which data could be stored for use in the future or to transfer data from one computer to another. It is important for storing software, utilities and hardware drivers.

Flash Memory – It is a modern substitute to the old floppy disk and is of greater capacity than the floppy disk.

List five units of message for computer memory and storage

Computers use the following units of storage to store data in memory and storage devices:-






3. Differentiate between Hardware and Software

Hardware refers to the physically visible and tangible gadgets that make up the computer system. It is the parts that the human user touches and interacts with in order to achieve results. Software on the other hand refers to the set of commands stored in the computer’s memory and storage devises which propel the hardware to work. Software is the intellect that resides inside the computer system and is represented by the texts, icons and graphics we see on the computer’s display device (Screen – VDU).

(a) List four specific types of application software

(i) Word processor – E.g. Microsoft Word

(ii) Spreadsheet – e.g. Microsoft Excel

(iii) Graphic Software – e.g. CorelDraw

(iv) Media Player – e.g. Win-Amp

4. What is an input and output devices

An input devise refers to the hardware components through which the human user of the computer feeds in data or commands into the computer for storage or processing while output devises are the hardware channels through which the computer gives back results to the user.

For example, when you type text into MS Word, the keyboard is an input device. The user then uses MS Word to process the text entered through the keyboard and the result could be seen on the Monitor, which is an output device or could be printed out on paper through the printer. Here the monitor and printer are output devices.

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(a) Give examples of each device

Input devices include mouse, Scanner, digital camera, finger print reader, OCR devices, microphone, and joystick.

Output devices include Monitor, Speaker, Printer and plotters.

5. What is Internet?

The internet is a phenomenal development in the computer world. It refers to a global connectivity of computers across the world that could share information interchangeably across the platform.

Technically, the Internet is a system of Publicly accessible computer network connecting many smaller networks from around the world. It grew out of a U.S. Defense Department program called ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), established in 1969 with connections between computers at the University of California at Los Angeles, Stanford Research Institute, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. ARPANET’s purpose was to conduct research into computer networking in order to provide a secure and survivable communications system in case of war. As the network quickly expanded, academics and researchers in other fields began to use it as well.

In 1971 the first program for sending e-mail over a distributed network was developed; by 1973, the year international connections to ARPANET were made (from Britain and Norway), e-mail represented most of the traffic on ARPANET. The 1970s also saw the development of mailing lists, newsgroups and bulletin-board systems, and the TCP/IP communications protocols, which were adopted as standard protocols for ARPANET in 1982 – 83, leading to the widespread use of the term Internet. In 1984 the domain name addressing system was introduced. In 1986 the National Science Foundation established the NSFNET, a distributed network of networks capable of handling far greater traffic, and within a year more than 10,000 hosts were connected to the Internet.

In 1988 real-time conversation over the network became possible with the development of Internet Relay Chat protocols (see chat). In 1990 ARPANET ceased to exist, leaving behind the NSFNET, and the first commercial dial-up access to the Internet became available. In 1991 the World Wide Web was released to the public (via FTP). The Mosaic browser was released in 1993, and its popularity led to the proliferation of World Wide Web sites and users. In 1995 the NSFNET reverted to the role of a research network, leaving Internet traffic to be routed through network providers rather than NSF supercomputers. That year the Web became the most popular part of the Internet, surpassing the FTP protocols in traffic volume. By 1997 there were more than 10 million hosts on the Internet and more than 1 million registered domain names.

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Internet access can now be gained via radio signals, cable-television lines, satellites, and fibre-optic connections, though most traffic still uses a part of the public telecommunications (telephone) network. The Internet is widely regarded as a development of vast significance that will affect nearly every aspect of human culture and commerce in ways still only dimly discernible.

List five importance of Computer;

Data Storage

Sorting and analyses of data to get results

Ease of information retrieval


Channel of Communication

Write short note on importance of Information technology (IT) towards your field of study (Business Education)

Computer can be of immense importance to business education because most of Information technology in real life situation is applied to business and commerce. Modern economic progress is largely attributable to availability and effective use of IT and as a student of Business, Information Technology is of immense significance.

Students have to be conversant with both the theoretical and practical aspect of their studies. As a student of business education, being conversant with the practical aspect of my studies and this implies that Information technology should be an important aspect of what must be studied and closely related to.

On a different perspective, Information technology is important in the actual dissemination of knowledge in the school system. Business education courses could be equally taught through the use of relevant software and network access to useful resources. This will serve the dual role of making the teaching-learning process efficient and effective on one hand and making students of business education learn a good aspect of real life business situations on the other hand.

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