- Learning outcomes
- 1 1 Computers and processors: introduction
- 2 2 Computers and computer systems
- 3 3 Some facts about processors
- 4 4 Representing data and instructions inside a computer
- 5 5 Examples of computers
- 6 6 A look to the future
- 7 7 Computer programs
- 8 Next steps
- Current section: Acknowledgements
from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Computers and computer systems
Computers and processors are ubiquitous in everyday life, and they're not only found in...
Computers and processors are ubiquitous in everyday life, and they're not only found in your PC. This unit introduces the different parts of computer systems and their use of binary code. Using the examples of kitchen scales, a digital camera and a computer artwork the unit, with the help of flowcharts, discusses how computers process data and instructions .
After studying this unit you will:
- know what all the terms highlighted in bold in the text mean;
- know the fundamental hardware components that make up a computer’s hardware and the role of each of these components;
- know the difference between an operating system and an application program, and what each is used for in a computer;
- be able to describe some examples of computers and state the effect that the use of computer technology has had on some common products;
- be able to identify the principal components of a given computer system and draw a diagram after the style of Figures 6 and 12 in this unit to represent the data flows between them.
Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence), this content is made available under a
Figure 1 ENIAC Computer. Photo © Science Photo Library
Rozin, D. ‘Wooden Mirror’, 2001, IEEE Spectrum, March 2001, p.29. Copyright © 2001 IEEE. Reproduced, with permission, from IEEE Spectrum, March 2001
All other materials included in this unit are derived from content originated at the Open University.
The Open University is conducting a survey investigating how people use the free educational content on our OpenLearn website. The aim is to provide a better free learning experience for everyone. So if you’re a regular user of OpenLearn and have 10 minutes to spare, we’d be delighted if you could take part and tell us what you think.
Don't miss out:
1. Join the 200,000 students currently studying with The Open University
2. Enjoyed this? Find out more about this topic or browse all our free course materials on OpenLearn
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Computing course units or view the range of currently available OU Computing courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 17th October 2013
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
Tags, Ratings and Social Bookmarking
- climate change (377)
- business (276)
- diaries (193)
- BBC Radio 4 (190)
- food (173)
- points for debate (170)
- bottom line (169)
- Rough Science (162)
- BBC Two (158)
- BBC (152)
- internet (148)
- listings (138)
- Scotland (121)
- Bang goes the Theory (119)
- children (117)
- English Civil War (115)
- Creative Climate (115)
- Thinking Allowed (112)
- recipes (112)
- astronomy (108)
- religion (99)
- sustainability (98)
- marketing (96)
- communication (94)
- 20th century (94)
- Charles I (93)
- evolution (90)
- architecture (86)
- research (86)
- The Bottom Line (85)