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Computer Studies Notes

Computers are electronic devices that can follow instructions to accept input, process that input, and produce information. There are four types of computers: supercomputer, mainframe computer, minicomputer and microcomputer. Computers are often classified into general types mainly based on processing speed and storage capacity. · Supercomputer: The most powerful type of computer is the supercomputer. It is large, extremely fast, and expensive computer used for complex or sophisticated calculations. A supercomputer can, for example, perform the enormous number of calculations required to draw and animate a moving spaceship or dinosaur for the special effects in a film. Supercomputers are also used for weather forecasting, large-scale scientific modeling, and oil exploration. For example, NASA uses supercomputers to track and control space explorations. · Mainframe computers: These large computers occupy specially wired, air-conditioned rooms. Although not nearly as powerful as supercomputers, mainframe computers are capable of great processing speeds and data storage. A mainframe computer often allows hundreds of users simultaneous access. For example, insurance companies use mainframes to process information about millions of policyholders.

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Types of Computer Systems

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Computer Studies Notes

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Minicomputers: Minicomputers are desk-sized machines. A small minicomputer might be able to support between ten and twenty users. Medium-sized companies or departments of large companies typically use them for specific purposes. For example, production departments use minicomputer to monitor certain manufacturing processes and assembly-line operations. It is, therefore, ideal for within a single department within a college or university, or for use in a medium size business.

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Microcomputers or Personal Computer (PC): Although the least powerful, microcomputers are the most widely used and fast-growing type of computer. Microcomputers are usually accompanied by a single keyboard and printer, have one or two hard-disk drives and may be connected to a network. Only one person can make use of a microcomputer at the same time. But multi-tasking is very common ­ the computer carrying out several different tasks at apparently the same time. Categories of microcomputers include desktop, notebook and personal digital assistants. o Desktop computers are small enough to fit on top of or alongside a desk yet are too big to carry around. o Notebook computers are portable, weigh between 4 to 10 pounds, and fit into most briefcases. o Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are also known as palmtop computers or handheld computers. They combine pen input, writing recognition, personal organizational tools, and communications capabilities in a very small system.

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