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What is a Computer?

Computers, these days, have become an essential part of our day-to-day life. Today, we can see their impact almost all sorts of applications ranging from complex research based calculations to engineering, education, publication, entertainment, business and the list is endless. We cannot imagine our life without the computers. So, it is essential for everyone of us to understand the capabilities and limitations of this wonderful machine.

The word Computer is derived from Latin word Computare, which means to Count or Compute. So, the word computer can be used for any device that can perform calculations. But, a computer is not just used to perform calculations. As it has the capability to process various types of user data and that too with 100% accuracy, it has become inevitable in offices and business environment. In this chapter, we will discuss all these aspects in details.

What is a Computer?

A computer is an electronic device, which processes user data as per the instructions to produce the desired output. It can perform both arithmetic as well as logical operations very quickly and can also store the results for the future use. So, the four basic functions of computer system are: Input, Process, Output and Storage.

Being a machine, computer cannot work independently, but it needs the user instructions and that too in specific terms and order. Although a computer is based on a complex technology, its working principle is very simple.

Just like many day-to-day tasks we do in three stages, called input, process and output, computer also follows the same cycle to produce the desired output, called Input-> Process- >Output or in short, IPO cycle.

The term Data is used for the raw facts which need to be processed by the computer, whereas the term Information is used for processed form of data, i.e. the desired output.

                        Input → Process → Output

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