Introduction, Computer Hardware

Tom Kelliher, CS297

Jan. 6, 1997


  1. Who are we? Why are we here? What do we already know?

  2. Does everyone remember their network account id and password? Martine Zehner, 172 Hoyt (see in person).

  3. Syllabus:

    1. Objectives.

    2. Textbooks --- share Meyer & Baber.

    3. Web resources. What's a URL? What about this period business?

    4. Floppies.

    5. Grading:

      1. Quizzes.

      2. Papers.

      3. Home page project.

      4. Attendance/participation.

    6. On-Line course materials.

    7. Schedule. Is it reasonable, given backgrounds, expectations?

Computer Hardware

Computer component categories:

  1. Processor.

  2. RAM Memory.

  3. Input.

  4. Output.


  1. Coordinates all activity.

  2. ``Brain'' of the computer. Software is the ``mind.''

  3. Connected to rest of computer through a ``bus.'' ISA, VL, PCI buses.

  4. Faster than all other PC components --- caches.

  5. Members of the x86 family: Pentium Pro, Pentium, 486. Various clock frequencies. Why Pentium?

  6. Executes binary instructions. What translates between our interface to the PC and the processor's instructions.

  7. History.

RAM Memory

  1. Random access memory.

  2. Volatile. Contrast storage.

  3. Location of running programs.

  4. Virtual memory.

  5. Typical sizes.

  6. History.


Some devices are also output devices. Which ones?


  1. Keyboard.

  2. Mouse, pointing stick, touchpad.

  3. Joystick.

  4. Scanner. Bed, handheld.

  5. Modem, network adapter, digital satellite.

  6. Microphone.

  7. CD-ROM drive. Speeds.

  8. Floppy disk drive.

  9. Hard disk drive. Permanent storage. Capacities. Access speeds. Block sizes.

  10. Tape drive.


  1. Video card, monitor. Pixels, resolutions, number of colors. Video memory.

  2. Sound card, speakers.

  3. Printer. Types of printers.


Starting and Stopping a PC


  1. Turn on monitor.

  2. Turn on system unit.

  3. Turn on other devices --- printer, speakers, etc.


  1. Shutdown the operating system.

  2. Reverse turn on sequence.

What happens when the PC is turned on?

How can any program start?

  1. Processor self-tests.


  3. Boot program.

  4. Operating system.

Running a program on a PC


  1. You double click on an icon.

  2. Operating system finds program, loads it into memory.

  3. Program shares CPU cycles with other running programs.


  1. Logging on/off the network.

  2. Using netscape?

    Go to and find the Rant and Rave on the PC versus Macintosh controversy.

    Read Tackling Turbulence with Supercomputers.

  3. Using e-mail?

Thomas P. Kelliher
Mon Jan 6 11:53:55 EST 1997
Tom Kelliher