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How a Computer Works

Previous tutorials are listed in the left column.

How does a computer work?

The motherboard- The Motherboard is a circuit board which has many components attached to it. None of these components can be replaced individually the main board must be replaced as a complete unit. One component which is attached to the motherboard is called the complementary metal oxide semiconductor which stores data even when the computer is turned off. The data consists of bios files, system clock and so on. On laptops your graphics card is part of the motherboard and they must be replaced as a unit.

The central processing unit- or cpu is also part of the motherboard in all computers. The cpu is a component which processes all the data communications in a computer. When you request a program that is stored on your hard drive (whether it is part of the operating system or something you have loaded from the internet or a disc) and processes it to display on the screen. The cpu is like Morse code if you are familiar with Morse code it consists of dots and dashes. A cpu works the same except is uses 0’s and 1’s. A computer or processor can only understand 0’s and 1’s SEE ALSO:Computer Symbols. When you give a command to the computer by clicking on something with your mouse the processor goes to the hard drive and requests the data for that program. The data is then sent to your random access memory board (a smaller circuit board that temporarily stores data) then the cpu processes the data and displays it on your screen.

The random access memory- or ram memory is a small circuit board which is attached to the motherboard but can be replaced without changing the motherboard. Ram memory is: for example, like using your desk at work. The bigger your desk is the more work you can do at one time. Ram is the same, the more ram memory you have the more programs that can be open or in use at one time. Older computers did not come with much ram. When you opened a program it would be slow or the program would freeze and stop working. This meant you had to restart your computer or try and end the program from running. This was caused from a lack of ram memory. The ram circuit board would become full, causing the computer to stop running programs. Today’s computers have plenty of ram, some computers have 4 Gigabytes of memory, which is the amount of data they can store at one time. As I said at the beginning ram is temporary memory. When you turn off your computer the ram memory is deleted. This is why it is recommended that you restart your computer once in a while. Also we have virtual ram memory available in today’s computers. When your ram memory becomes full your operating system will start placing ram data onto the hard drive for temporary will start to run slower because it takes longer for your processor to go the hard drive and retrieve this data

The drivers-most computers have two drivers. The hard drive is part of the computer but not the motherboard and can be replaced separately. The hard drive is where all the data on your computer is stored with the exception of the bios data we talked about earlier. The hard drive is a disc similar to a music disc or movie disc. It spins at a high rate of speed and is read by a laser beam. The difference is your hard drive can hold a lot more information than a music disc. I remember my first laptop had a hard drive size of 2 gigabytes. My new laptop has a hard drive of 250 gigabytes and some new laptops have hard drives as big as 600 or 700 gigabytes of storage. Your desktop computer has hard drives over a terabyte of storage. The other driver on your computer is the disc drive which and read disc’s download music or movies and can store your data.

The graphic card-graphics cards as we talked about earlier are replaceable on desktops without changing the motherboard as for laptops the graphics card is part of the motherboard and must be replaced as a unit. The graphics card is used when you watch movies, play video games online games like pogo.com, poker games or even go om in a desktop to place a larger video card in. laptop have limited space and can only fit a very small graphics card on the motherboard, another great challenge for manufactures. But I have seen online some new external graphics cards for laptops that connect through your usb ports. Usb ports are the plugs in your computer that external components such as graphics cards, your mouse, keyboard, printers, scanners and fax machine can plug into. Computer generally have 2 or three usb ports, you can recognize them on your computer they all look alike.

The cooling fan-every computer in the world has a cooling fan in it. This is because the cpu creates a lot of heat when it is working. If the cpu is not cooled when in use it will overheat and stop working. Sometimes you will hear the fan go faster and then slower and change constantly. This is because the fan works in conjunction with the cpu. The faster and harder the cpu works the faster the fan runs to cool it. Fans in laptop are a tough challenge for manufacturers because the fans need to work hard to cool the cpu but they need to be energy efficient as to not run the battery down to fast.

The cables- cables also connect several things to the computer and like the usb ports all your cables eventually connect to the motherboard. You have your keyboard and mouse cables (which can sometimes be wireless if you purchases them) your monitor or screen, printers, fax machines scanners all have cables that connect to your computer and to the motherboard.

As we talked about earlier the first thing that happens when you turn on your computer is the bios data checks all the components in the computer; the graphics card, ram and hard drive memory, motherboard and so on. After the bios are done it turns the computer over to the operating system.

The operating system consists of many duties. The processor manager will take data and divided it into manageable chunks of data before sending it to the cpu for processing. The memory manager organizes data to and from the ram memory and controls how and when to use virtual memory. The device manager provides control between the computer's internal components and each device connected to the computer. Your mouse clicks and keyboard entries, internet connection, printer, fax machine and scanner connection are a few examples.


For other articles also see previous tutorials.