Introduction to computer

A computer is a machine that helps us to enter data, store them and process them to give meaningful results as output. In other words, a computer is an electronic calculating device that takes data and instructions as input, stores them, processes the data according to the instructions, and produces the desired result as output. It was derived from the Latin word “computare” which means to calculate. The term “Computer” can literally be used to identify any device that does calculations. Now, we use computers to process alphanumeric and other types of data.

A computer not only performs addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division but also reads data, stores them, and processes them to produce the results. So, we can say that the functions of a computer are broader than just computing.

Fig. IPO Cycle in Computer System.

Characteristics of Computer

A computer has some features or capabilities that make it a special device. Some of the major characteristics of a computer are discussed below:

a. Speed

The speed of a computer is very high. It can process millions of instructions per second(MIPS) without any mistakes. The speed of a computer is usually given in terms of the following time units.


Unit of TimeParts of secondsMeaning
 1 Millisecond(1 ms)  1/1000 or 10 -3  A thousandth of a second 
 1 Microsecond (1 us)  1/1000000 or 10 -6  A millionth of a second 
 1 Nanosecond (1 ns)  1/1000000000 or 10 -9  A thousand millionth of a second 
 1 Picosecond (1 ps)  1/1000000000000 or 10 -12  A million millionth of a second 

The speed of a computer is also measured in terms of instructions per second like KIPS (Kilo Instructions per Second) or MIPS (Millions of Instructions per Second).

b. Storage

Computers can store a large amount of data. They have main memory and secondary memory. The storage capacity of a computer is unlimited due to the capacities of secondary storage devices. They can store and retrieve a huge volume of data in an easy, fast, and efficient manner. The storage capacity of primary, as well as secondary memories of a computer, is measured in terms of bits, bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes, and so on.
The following table gives basic measurement units of computer memory.

 1 or 0  1 bit 
 4 bits  1 nibble 
 8 bits  1 byte 
 1024 bytes  1 kilobyte(KB) 
 1024 KB  1 megabyte (MB) 
 1024 MB  1 gigabyte (GB) 
 1024 GB  1 terabyte (TB) 


c. Accuracy

The accuracy of a computer is 100% in spite of its high speed. If we find any errors, they are due to human factors rather than the computer. The error may be in coding the program, program logic, and data entry. The errors in computer programs are also called bugs. The process of involving errors from a program is called debugging. if a wrong or false input is given, the output is also wrong. So, a computer is also called a GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out) machine.

d. Versatility

Computers are versatile machines. It means they can perform varieties of jobs ranging from simple to complex and sophisticated calculations. In other words, we can say that computers are capable of doing any type of task. The application areas of computers are very wide. So, they can be used in educational, business, commercial, industrial, medical, engineering, and many other sectors.

e. Diligence 

Computers are diligent machines. Human beings suffer from weaknesses like tiredness, lack of concentration, and laziness. So, human beings can’t perform the same task over and over again with the same speed, accuracy, and efficiency. Being a machine, a computer does not get tired or bored. It doesn’t lose concentration and feel lazy. This feature of the computer is called diligence.

f. Automatic

A computer is an automatic machine. Once the process has been initiated, it is capable of functioning automatically till its completion. it doesn’t require instructions again and again once the data is provided.

Limitations of a Computer

  1. Computers don’t have common sense, the IQ of a computer is zero.
  2. Computers don’t have thinking capacity.
  3. Computers cannot run without electricity.
  4. they can’t decide on their own.

Disadvantages of Computer

  1. Computers can affect our eyes if we sit in front of a screen for a long time.
  2. Computers can reduce our creativity if we depend more on them.
  3. A computer is a machine and a machine can break at any time.
  4. Due to the change in technology daily, people believe that they can lose their jobs if they will not upgrade themselves.


  • A computer is an electronic data processing device.
  • A computer has become a special device due to its storage capability.
  • The speed of a computer is measured in millions of instructions per second.
  • The storage capacity of a computer is measured in bits, bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, and so on.
  • Computers don’t have the self-decision-making capability.
  • Computers are capable of doing simply to complex type calculations.
  • Computers never feel tired bored or lose concentration.


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