When you mention the word "technology," most people think about computers. Virtually every facet of our lives has some computerized component. The appliances in our homes have microprocessors built into them, as do our televisions. Even our cars have a computer. But the computer that everyone thinks of first is typically the personal computer, or PC. A PC is a general purpose tool built around a microprocessor. It has lots of different parts -- memory, a hard disk, a modem, etc. -- that work together. "General purpose" means that you can do many different things with a PC. You can use it to type documents, send e-mail, browse the Web and play games.
In this article, we will talk about PCs in the general sense and all the different parts that go into them. You will learn about the various components and how they work together in a basic operating session. You'll also find out what the future may hold for these machines.
On the Inside
Let's take a look at the main components of a typical desktop computer.
No matter how powerful the components inside your computer are, you need a way to interact with them. This interaction is called input/output (I/O). The most common types of I/O in PCs are:
Monitor - The monitor is the primary device for displaying information from the computer.
Keyboard - The keyboard is the primary device for entering information into the computer.
Mouse - The mouse is the primary device for navigating and interacting with the computer
Removable storage - Removable storage devices allow you to add new information to your computer very easily, as well as save information that you want to carry to a different location.
Floppy disk - The most common form of removable storage, floppy disks are extremely inexpensive and easy to save information to.
Flash memory - Based on a type of ROM called electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), Flash memory provides fast, permanent storage. CompactFlash, SmartMedia and PCMCIA cards are all types of Flash memory. DVD-ROM - DVD-ROM (digital versatile disc, read-only memory) is similar to CD-ROM but is capable of holding much more information.
Millions of people use cellular phones. Cell phones enable you to talk to anyone, just about anywhere in the whole world. With a cell phone, depending on what model you have, you can:
- Store contact information (a virtual phonebook)
- Make a to do list
- Make reminders for upcoming appointments, ECT.
- Use the calculator
- Send or receive emails
- Get information from the internet
- Play games
- Have PDAs, MP3 Players, and GPS Receivers
To make it simple, a cell phone is a radio. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Wireless communication can trace its roots to the invention of the radio by Nikolai Tesla in the 1880s.
A city is divided into small cells. This enables a city to reuse the same frequency, so millions of people can use cell phones at the same time. As you travel, the signal is passed from cell to cell.
If you take apart a cell phone you will find:
- A circuit board (the brains of the cell phone)
- An antenna
- A liquid crystal display (LCD)
- A keyboard
- A microphone
- A speaker
- A battery
Most digital cellular systems rely on Frequency-Shift Keying (FSK) to send information back and forth over AMPS. FSK uses two frequencies, one for 1s and one for 0s changing quickly between the two to send digital information between the cell tower and the phone.