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The complete Introduction and Characteristics of Computer

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Introduction and Characteristics of Computer
Introduction and Characteristics of Computer

Introduction and Characteristics of Computer

By Dr. Greg O. Onwodi


 Table of Contents

 Definition of the computer

Basic understanding of data processing

The concept of data and information

Methods of data processing

Characteristics of a computer

Introduction and Definition

Computer is fast becoming the universal machine of the 21st century. Early computers were large in size and too expensive to be owned by individuals. Thus they were confined to the laboratories and few research institutes. They could only be programmed by computer engineers. The basic applications were confined to undertaking complex calculations in science and engineering.

Today, computer is no longer confined the laboratory. Computers and indeed, computing have become embedded in almost every item we use. Computing is fast becoming ubiquitous. Its application transcends science, engineering, communication, space science, aviation, financial institutions, social sciences, humanities, the military, transportation, manufacturing, extractive industries to mention but a few. This unit presents the background information about computers.

Computer: A computer is basically defined as a tool or machine used for processing data to give required information. It is capable of: taking input data through the keyboard (input unit), storing the input data in a diskette, hard disk or other medium c. processing it at the central processing unit (CPU) and giving out the result (output) on the screen or the Visual Display Unit (VDU).


Data: The term data is referred to facts about a person, object or place e.g. name, age, complexion, school, class, height etc.

Information: Is referred to as processed data or a meaningful statement e.g. Net pay of workers, examination results of students, list of successful candidates in an examination or interview etc.

 Methods of Data Processing

 The following are the three major methods that have been widely used for  data processing over the years:

  1. Manual Method
  2. Mechanical methods
  3. Computer

Introduction and Characteristics of Computer

Manual Method

 The manual method of data processing involves the use of chalk, wall, pen pencil and the like. These devices, machine or tools facilitate human efforts in recording, classifying, manipulating, sorting and presenting data or information. The manual data processing operations entail considerable manual efforts. Thus, manual method is cumbersome, tiresome, boring, frustrating and time consuming. Furthermore, the processing of data by the manual method is likely to be affected by human errors. When there are errors, then the reliability, accuracy, neatness, tidiness, and validity of the data would be in doubt. The manual method does not allow for the processing of large volume of data on a regular and timely basis.

Mechanical Method

 The mechanical method of data processing involves the use of machines such as typewriter, roneo machines, adding machines and the like. These machines facilitate human efforts in recording, classifying, manipulating, sorting and presenting data or information. The mechanical operations are basically routine in nature. There is virtually no creative thinking. The mechanical operations are noisy, hazardous, error prone and untidy. The mechanical method does not allow for the processing of large volume of data continuously and timely.

Computer Method

 The computer method of carrying out data processing has the following major features:

  1. Data can be steadily and continuously processed
  2. The operations are practically not noisy
  3. There is a store where data and instructions can be stored temporarily and
  4. Errors can be easily and neatly
  5. Output Reports are usually very neat, decent and can be produced in various forms such as adding graphs, diagrams, pictures
  6. Accuracy and reliability are highly

Introduction and Characteristics of Computer

Below are further attributes of a computer which makes it to be an indispensable tool for human being:

Characteristics of a Computer

 Characteristics of Computer

  1. Speed: The computer can manipulate large data at incredible speed and response time can be very
  2. Accuracy: Its accuracy is very high and its consistency can be relied upon. Errors committed in computing are mostly due to human rather than technological weakness. There are in-built error detecting schemes in the
  3. Storage: It has both internal and external storage facilities for holding data and instructions.This capacity varies from one machine to the  Memories are built up in K(Kilo) modules where K = 1024 memory locations.
  4. Automatic: Once a program is in the computer’s memory, it can run automatically each time it is opened. The individual has little or no instruction to give
  5. Reliability: Being a machine, a computer does not suffer human traits of tiredness and lack of concentration. It will perform the last job with the same speed and accuracy as the first job every time even if ten million jobs are
  6. Flexibility: It can perform any type of task once it can be reduced to logical steps. Modern computers can be used to perform a variety of functions like on-line processing, multi-programming, real time processing

 The Computing System

 The computing system is made up of the computer system, the user and the environment in which the computer is operated.

The Computer System

 The computer system is made up of the hardware and the software.

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