An introduction to computers and computer systems
An introduction to computers and computer systems

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Glossary

Binary
A system limited to having just two values.
Computer bus
The internal data connections across the input and output subsystems and the secondary memory subsystem to the computer’s processor and main memory.
Computer system
Formally a processor and its associated devices to make a usable ‘system’, but often the complete system, is referred to as a ‘computer’.
Digital
In our context, it means systems using discrete rather than continuous values. In the larger contest of computers in society, there is also the social and marketing use of ‘digital’, where it represents a way of engaging with people.
Embedded computer system
Specialised processors acting as controllers for devices such as washing machines and microwave ovens.
Hard disk
A form of secondary memory consisting of one or more rigid magnetic disks rotating about a central axle. Also known as a hard drive.
Hardware
The physical components of a computer or computer system.
Input-output device
A component that can function both as an input and as an output device.
Input-output subsystem
The components of a computer system responsible for the retrieving, transforming and presenting the data used by a processor, functioning as both an input subsystem and an output subsystem.
Input subsystem
The components of a computer system responsible for the entry of external data and its transformation into a form the processor can use.
Main memory
Where a processor stores instructions and associated data for execution.
Microprocessor
Was introduced when processors were first made on a single silicon chip, with the prefix ‘micro’ emphasising their small size
Output subsystem
The components of a computer system responsible for the transforming and presenting the data used by a processor into a form for use outside the computer system.
Secondary memory
Holds programs and data that will persist after the computer is switched off.
Secondary memory subsystem
The components of a computer system that prepare data for and retrieve data from secondary storage.
Software
The program, or collection of programs, that enable a computer to carry out its tasks.

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