A CDE Definition
The 3 C's
A computer is a general-purpose machine that processes data according to a set of instructions temporarily stored internally. The computer and all the equipment attached to it are "hardware." The instructions that tell the computer what to do are "software."
The software that controls the computer is called an "operating system," and the software that inputs, processes and outputs data for the user is called a "program," "application" or "app." See operating system, application, how to select a computer, stored program concept and computer generations.
RAM Vs. StorageThe interplay between temporary memory (the RAM) and permanent storage is how computers work. The instructions (software) are first written into RAM, and the computer executes them to input, process and output the data.
RAM is a temporary workspace, while storage is permanent and comprises any hard drive, solid state drive (SSD), optical disc or USB drive on the same computer or another computer in the network. After processing the data internally, the computer can send a copy of the results from RAM back to storage, to a printer or to another computer in the network. The more RAM, the more programs and data the computer can work with quickly, and entry level computers have at least two gigabytes of RAM. The more storage, the more data can be saved. Entry level computers typically have at least 512GB (gigabytes) of disk storage or 128GB of SSD storage.
Storage can only be read and written in large blocks called "sectors" that hold hundreds or thousands of bytes. However, it is the RAM that allows one or more bytes to be manipulated independently. This "single byte addressability" is the entire reason data are brought into RAM for processing. See RAM and storage vs. memory.
Processing (The 3 C's)The computer performs all processing by "calculating," "comparing" and "copying" the data in RAM.
Calculate - Compute Amounts and Keep Track
A computer can add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers to compute money amounts as well as geometric measurements of all variety. The computer's calculating capability enables it to keep track of its own internal iterations for myriad tasks.
Compare - Match One Set With Another
The computer can look at two sets of data and determine whether they are equal or which set is higher or lower in value. Comparing is performed for searching, analyzing and evaluating data for countless purposes.
Copy - From One Place to Another
The computer can rearrange data for organizing and reporting by copying data from one area in memory to another. In fact, in France and Spain, a computer is actually called an "organizer."
The 3 C's - Find Things
The 3 C's - Display and Print
The 3 C's - Sort
The 3 C's - Edit
It All Begins With Software
The UNIVAC I (Frankfurt Germany, 1956)
How About the Tip of a Pencil?
Before/After Your Search Term
|TFS||The Computer Glossary|
|TFT||The Computer Museum|
|TFT display||The DAO|
|TFT LCD||The Grid|
|TFT screen||The Long Tail|
|TFTP||The New iPad|
|TGA||the next big thing|
|TH/s||The Open Group|
|Thackara's laws||The Rail|
Terms By Topic
Click any of the following categories for a list of fundamental terms.