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Embed code for: Intro to Computer - Handouts_1.1
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Introduction to Computers know the basics. What is a computer, types of programs and software.
What is a computer?/ There are many kinds of computers designed to do many different things. The most popular type of computer - and the one we will be discussing here - is the personal computer or PC. A computer is really just a tool that lets you do something. What you can do is determined by the type of computer you're using and what actions it allows you to take.
A personal computer is designed usually with a single person in mind, and that person is known as a user. Different personal computers exist because users wish to do different things. A user uses a computer to do different things, such as typing a letter or accessing the Internet.
Software A personal computer has something installed on it called software. Software allows a computer to do different things. A computer needs software to be of use to people.
The most common type of software found on any personal computer is the operating system, which provides a user interface and some basic commands so users can actually do something on a computer. Almost every operating system these days has what is called a graphical user interface, which display programs in their own areas on the screen called windows.
Microsoft Windows is the most popular operating system, but other systems, such as Linux and Macintosh, perform similarly and even allow you to use several programs at the same time. This is why such operating systems are said to be capable of multitasking: they can do more than one task at a time.
Types of Programs When we speak of specific software we use the term program in reference to some unique process, game, utility, or action we want the computer to execute. Programs contain instructions that the computer follows. Examples of programs include word processors, web browsers, and games, such as the ever-popular Solitaire game.
While some computers, when you buy them, come with a certain amount of software, each computer will have different programs. Some will have a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, whereas another computer might only have an operating system, such as Microsoft Windows, and some basic programs.
Additional programs can be purchased and installed on a personal computer as needed. An accountant would want a program called a spreadsheet, which allows you to work creatively with numbers in columns and rows. Almost everyone needs a word processor to type and print things such as letters and book reports. If you are thinking about buying a computer, be sure it comes with or will support the kinds of things you would like to do.
The Desktop The desktop is the area on your screen which contains pictures of programs that may be used on that computer. These small pictures are called icons. When you move the arrow on the screen over the icon (using the input device next to the keyboard called a mouse), clicking on that icon (usually twice with the left mouse button) brings up that program.
As every computer has different programs, desktops will look different from computer to computer. Some users might have a custom background graphic behind the icons, such as the popular picture of clouds, which comes with Microsoft Windows. These are merely cosmetic differences. Linux and Macintosh users will notice some minor differences between their graphical user interface and Microsoft Windows.
Public, school, or business computers might restrict access to the desktop: you might see only a few icons, or you might not see any icons at all. Instead you might see a menu item which you select options from using a mouse. While things will look different, the concept of clicking on a program or menu to initiate an action is consistent across all graphical user interfaces.
The Keyboard The keyboard resembles a typewriter keyboard, but that's where the similarities end: the computer keyboard contains a number of special keys, which, when pressed individually or together, produce different results in different programs.
Most personal computer keyboards contain function keys (e.g. F1, F2, F3...). These keys may or may not have any affect in certain programs. Pressing one key in one program may produce an entirely different result (or nothing at all) in another program. You must always be mindful of what keys you press.
If you intend on typing documents in a word processor, you will need to familiarize yourself with the cursor keys: these are the four up/down/left/right arrows on the right lower half of the keyboard. They move the blinking vertical line on the screen called a cursor when you are in a program, such as a word processor, that lets you type something.
The Backspace and Delete keys are very important: they let you correct and edit words you've typed. The Enter key (called "Return" on some keyboards) is used to start a new line in a word processor or to initiate action in other programs. Other keys to watch for include the Escape (ESC) key (this often allows you to cancel or back out of an action in a program) and the Control (CTRL) key, which is used with other keys to activate special options in a program. actually do something on a computer. Almost every operating system these days has what is called a graphical user interface, which display programs in their own areas on the screen called windows.
Most personal computer keyboards contain function keys (e.g. F1, F2, F3...). These keys may or may not have any affect in certain