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Computers and computer systems

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Computers and computer systems

Please note: As part of a review of content, this course will be deleted from OpenLearn on Wednesday 18 August 2021. If you are currently studying this course, please make sure you complete the course and download your statement of participation before this date. We have recently published an updated version of this course which you can find at the following link:

Computers and processors are ubiquitous in everyday life, and they're not only found in your PC. This free course, Computers and computer systems, introduces the different parts of a computer system and their use of binary code. Using the examples of kitchen scales, a digital camera and a computer artwork the course, with the help of flowcharts, discusses how computers process data and instructions. 

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand what all the terms highlighted in bold in the text mean
  • understand the fundamental hardware components that make up a computer’s hardware and the role of each of these components
  • understand the difference between an operating system and an application program, and what each is used for in a computer
  • describe some examples of computers and state the effect that the use of computer technology has had on some common products
  • identify the principal components of a given computer system and draw a diagram after the style of Figures 6 and 12 to represent the data flows between them.

First Published: 09/08/2012

Updated: 20/07/2018