Becoming computer fluent can benefit you in several ways. Perhaps the most practical advantage is that being computer fluent makes you more attractive to potential employers. In fact, many employers expect their employees to already have a basic level of computer skills when they are hired. If you are knowledgeable about computers and their uses, it also makes you a better consumer. It's easier to select and purchase the right computer for your needs if you understand computer terminology and the components of a computer. In addition, if you have a basic understanding of today's technology, you're in a better position to understand and use the technology of tomorrow.
By definition, a computer is a programmable electronic device that can input, process, retrieve, and store data. Essentially, a computer takes data and converts it into information. Many people use these two words interchangeably; however, they are different in computing. Thus it is important to understand the distinction. Each piece of data entered into a computer represents a single fact or idea. Data can be a word, a number, a sound, or a picture. On the other hand, information is data that has been processed so that it can be presented in an organized and meaningful way. Think of data as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and information as the finished puzzle. In other words, putting all the pieces of the puzzle together gives you the overall picture! For example, CIS 110, the letter B, and the names Amy and Stevens are all pieces of data. Individually, these bits of data seem relatively meaningless. However, when processed, this data becomes the information on a grade report indicating Amy Stevens received a grade of B in her CIS 110 class.
Let's take a closer look at the four basic functions, also known as the information processing cycle, of a computer and how they relate to this example:
Most likely, Amy's instructor used a computer to enter, or input, her grades into the school's computerized grading system. A computer then processed this data along with data for any other classes Amy might have taken. Amy then received a written record of her grade or perhaps she accessed it online. Either way, the grade report was output by the computer. At the same time, her grades remain stored in the system so they can be used to generate her transcript or to determine her future grade point average as she continues to take classes.
Objective 2 Identify the Different Types of Computers