This column is designed to be an informative guide
to the technological age.
In this issue we will discuss the basics.
The language used by computer geeks, nerds, enthusiasts
We will refer to the basic components of the
PC and give their definitions.
When someone mentions the CRT, they are most often
referring to the PCís monitor (the unit from which the
picture is displayed).
The term CRT is short for
Tube, which is really one of the components within
Some people refer to the PC itself as the CPU.
But like the term CRT is a component within a
monitor, the CPU is really a component within the PC.
The CPU, or
speed is rated in
A Meg in computer terms is synonymous with one
Frequency is measured in
cycles per second.
One million Hertz is the equivalent of one million
cycles per second, which would be one Megahertz.
Now letís use an Intel Pentium 75 as an example.
A 75 megahertz Pentium is obviously a processor
that has had itís processing speed rated at 75 megahertz.
That means every second, it pushes out 75 million
groups of oneís and zeros.
Mind boggling isnít it?
So when someone tells you a processors speed,
they will be telling you in megahertz.
If they know what theyíre talking about.
is short for binary term.
Which is a unit of storage capable of holding
one character, or eight bits.
is short for binary digit, which is a single one or
byte is basically a group of eight digits (or bits)
consisting of ones and zeros.
Every time one character is typed on a keyboard,
eight bits (or one byte) of information is input into
8 bits=1 byte,
one megabyte is equal to one million bytes or eight
I hope so, because Iíd hate to have to explain
The floppy drive is the drive in which a floppy disk
is inserted. There are basically two types.
A 3 Ĺ inch floppy drive and the increasingly
antiquated 5 ľ inch floppy drive.
The largest amount of information that can be
stored on a floppy is 2.88 megabytes.
However, it is a rare occasion when a 2.88 megabyte
floppy drive is found.
Virtually all floppy drives are the 1.44 megabyte
are removable storage disks such as the Iomega Zip disk
that can store 100 megabytes of information and they
have recently come out with a disk that stores 250 MBís.
is short for megabyte, by the way.
hard drive is the unit within the PC in which the bulk
of all data is stored.
The storage capacity is measured in megabytes,
just like the floppy and other removable storage mediums
like the Zip disk.
However the size of a hard drive can vary significantly
from one PC to another and the storage capacities are
increasing at ridiculously high rates.
Just a few years ago, a one
hard drive would have been considered enviably large.
Now itís really nothing.
is one billion bytes.
You probably couldnít find a hard drive with
a storage capacity below 4 GB, at any store that sells
I look in magazines now and see adds for 10 GB,
17 GB, 20GB and higher.
Just think, 4GB or 4 billion bytes of storage
is considered the bare minimum, these days.
Whenever anyone refers to ďmemoryĒ they are usually
referring to the PCís RAM.
Your RAMís storage capacity, like the storage
capacity for hard drives, is measured in megabytes.
Most new systems come with a minimum of 32 MB
But unlike the hard drive, RAM is only a temporary storage
place for information.
So why bother with RAM?
Iím glad you asked. Every time you go to open
an application or execute a command, your PC will look
to the hard drive in search of that information.
Once that information is located, it is temporarily
stored into memory.
Information is read significantly faster from
RAM than from the hard drive. Simply stated: The more
RAM you have to store information, the faster your PCís
applications will run.
Basically, since the information wouldnít need
to be retrieved from the (slower) hard drive, as you
continue to work within the application.
Disk Read Only Memory.
part is easy to explain.
It just means that you can only read from the
CD and not write to it.
However, we now live in an age where recordable
CD-ROM drives are affordable.
CD-ROM drive speeds are also increasing at ridiculously
Most new systems come with a CD-ROM drive thatís
at least 40 X (40 times).
Which isnít even the fastest speed currently
I am hesitant to even mention the fastest speed
available because itís bound to change by the time you
modem is the device thatís used to connect to the Internet
or send and receive faxes on your PC.
The term modem is short for
It basically converts digital information into an analog
signal and then sends it out over a phone line.
On the receiving PC, the analog signal is received
and then converted back to the original digital information
it started out as.
Modem speed is measured in
Thatís thousands of bits per second.
So a 14.4 k modem is obviously 14,400
bits per second
or 14.4 thousand BPS.
known as the
The operating system is the basic interface between
the user and the PC.
The most popular operating systems are the ones
that were developed by Microsoft.
First there was
Disk operating System).
Then the various releases of
such as Windows 3.1 (first popular release of windows),
Windows 3.11 for Workgroups,
Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows 2000. Then there
are other operating systems such as
Unix is primarily used for file servers and OS/2
is fading in popularity.
There is the
that is the Operating System loaded on Macintosh computers.
There are more recent additions to the OS market
such as the
Linux is the more popular of the two and is increasing
in popularity at a much faster rate.
Linux uses many of the same commands that Unix
not known for being user friendly and would have to
be made more user friendly in order for it to be more
of a threat to Microsoft.
At least on the workstation level.
It is, however, becoming a major player on the
web server level.
hope that many of you out there have found this article
to be of some assistance and that you have gained something
of value from it.
It is one individual article, so itís impossible
to include everything pertinent to all of the subjects
touched on. But, hopefully, if someone walked up to
you and said ďI just got a new PC.
Itís a 333 megahertz Pentium 2 system with 64
MB of RAM, a 10 GB hard drive, 40 X CD-ROM and a 56
k modem, with Windows 98 pre-loadedĒ, you wouldnít be
at a loss for words.
It would be even nicer to think that we were
the ones who made it possible for you to understand