So, how do computers work? This is going to sound very complex but if you just bear with me you will realize that it is really extremely simple. I must warn you that the math I am going to mention is going to be a little confusing. You will never have to understand this math. I am going to use it to help understand how basic functions work.
If this seems a bit to complex, I hope that you will stick around and check out a few of my other post. My intention is to bring you closer to technology so, if you have any questions about anything feel free to ask. The only dumb question is one not asked. I call my site pcmd for computer doctor. I didn’t do this to imply that I know it all. A wise man becomes wise only after he realizes how little he knows.
The four stage process – the thought process
When I helped people in the past with their computers or gaming systems I did charge them. But I also encouraged them to watch and learn so they would never have to pay to have it done again. I was called crazy by my peers and family. They said that I would never keep business if I kept teaching my secrets. Well I hate secrets….
Computers are designed to think for us. The process of a computer is actually very simple. This process: Input – store – process – output. Input is any influence on the computer. This could be sent from a sensor in your car, keyboard, mouse, camera, microphone, touch screen, ect.
Memory and storage
This input delivers information to be stored to memory. The processor then takes that input and changes it using algorithm ( a series of commands). The information is then sent back to storage and is now prepared for output.
How the information is output is determined by what the system is designed for. The output can be displayed as text, video, audio or as commands to another device such as a drone or robot. In fact this text is input as I write it and it will be output when it is displayed on your screen.
All computers follow this process. They are introduced to information which is stored, processed then displayed. You still with me here?
Circuits – Now for the fun part!!!
Circuits modify and process information that is represented by 1 and 0. A simple circuit will reverse an electronic signal. On to off (1 to 0) or vise versa. This is called a “not” circuit because the input is NOT the same as the output. Complex circuits combine multiple signals giving you a different result.
An “and” circuit has two signals being combined into one signal. The only way you will get a one is if both signals are 1 (on). So if you have 1 and 0 or 0 and 1 the output will always be 0.
There are many kinds of circuits but they all use the basic concept in more complex form. A few of these are nand, nor, xor, ect. Adding more circuits allow more complex results.
Electricity travels around the speed of light. Computers rely on information to be processed via electricity. This will all make sense soon if you are confused because now we will get into how this is interpreted by a computer.
Binary code and data – The hidden language
Computers work through what is known as binary code. 01101110. Almost nobody will need to deal with this code directly so please don’t feel obligated to learn this or be scared away by it.
If you have one transistor with electricity going through it, it can only be on or off, 1 or 0, true or false. This is called a bit(binary digit). A byte = 8 bits. A bit is the smallest piece of info that can be stored.
More transistor = more bits. More bits = more complex info. In the binary number system the digits are multiplied by two instead of our decimal system which multiplies by 10. So instead of 1s,10s,100s, and 1000s, we get 1s, 2s, 4s, and 8s. With just 32 bits we can have over 4 billion possible numbers!
Luckily the computers do all of this math for us. All output can be represented with these two numbers, 0 and 1. So on these pictures on this post are comprised of many pixels. These tiny little dots are all colors which are represented by numbers.
Text is similar. Think of the letters of the alphabet and give each one a number value. This is known as American Standard Code Information Interchange, or ASCII. A byte of binary is assigned to each letter and symbol.
This was possible only because there are 255 possible numbers in a byte. These numbers are then placed on this screen according to the value that they are represented by the binary code.
Sound is essentially a vibration. This vibration can be represented by a waveform. Different points of this wave are represented by a number. The more bits the higher the quality sound.
The central processing unit controls all of the components in the computer. Inside of this device there are many smaller parts that handle designated tasks. There are circuits that handle logic and math and that receive and send signals. Commands are sent to the CPU which dictate which circuit will be used. These commands are also represented by binary code. They are stored in memory until the CPU retrieves and executes them in sequence; add, subtract, multiply, move, store…
The collection of data that commands the computer is called software. Software is broken up into two groups. These are known as Application software and system software. System software is the set of instructions necessary for the computer to run. This includes the operating system. This software gives other software a platform to run.
The software that you engage with is called application software. Word, Media players, web browsers, and games are all forms of system software. This software is not written in binary code but in Programming language like Java scrip, Python, Ruby, Blockly ect. This is called coding….
Though we never see this invisible language, it controls the whole world of the computer. These machines take simple math and process it at a neck breaking speed to give us this digital life as we know it. This process is so simple but just try to imagine your world without your phone or computer. Pretty hard right?
I am fascinated by technology. The advancement from the room sized computers all the way to candy bar sized computers is completely amazing. I mean we can literally print a full size house, with no waste, with a 3d printer right now! There is no limit to our technology. If you dream it we can do it.
I really hope that this has opened your eyes to the simplistic nature of these machines. I want you to know that I am here if you have any questions on this or any other topic. You can leave me a comment in the box or feel free to contact me at the email below.
Thank you for taking time out of your day and coming to my site. We are in this together…….
Best of luck,
Founder of tonypcmd.com