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    1. Parts of a personal computer system
      1. Hardware
      2. Software
      3. Data
      4. Users

    CHAPTER 1.2: Parts of a PC system

    Chapter Objective: Introduce the different parts of a PC system and their function

    A personal computer system consists of four components: hardware, software, data and users

    TOPIC 1.2.1: HardwareThe mechanical parts that make up a computer are called its hardware. These are the touchable parts of the computer system that are connected together to control a computer's operation, inputs, outputs, and storage.

    We will discuss some of the hardware components in detail, but let us first take a quick look at the PC as it appears to us. A normal PC comes with the following units:

    1. Monitor - The monitor is a television-like unit that displays the output of a computer process.

    2. System Unit - It is usually a rectangular tower-like box that stands upright. Some manufacturers make a flat rectangular-box that lies flat on the desktop. In a usual configuration, the front part of a system unit consists of:

    A. CD-ROM Drive - From the top this is usually the first component. CD-ROM drive comes with a panel of buttons to operate it. CD-ROM drives are used to read information from CD-ROMs, VCDs, Audio CDs.

    B. Floppy Disk Drive - Below the CD-ROM drive, there is a slit-like opening in the system unit. This is the opening to insert the floppy disks (also called the diskettes) into the floppy disk drive. Floppy-disk drive reads information from floppy disks.

    C. Power button - There is a big push button on the front panel of the system unit, which is used to turn the PC on or off. It is called the Power button. 

    D. Reset button - A smaller push button, adjacent to or just below the power button, is used to restart the computer without disconnecting the power supply.

    E. Lights - There may be some LED coloured lights on the front panel. These lights are used to indicate, the power usage, hard disk usage, floppy disk usage. The rear side of the system unit consists of a lot of sockets and ports to connect it with various components including input and output devices. These include:

    F. Power IN and OUT sockets: Power IN socket is meant for power cables to carry power into the system unit. Power OUT socket is meant for power cables to transmit power from system unit to the monitor.

    G. Serial Ports: Usually there are two serial ports. These ports connect the system unit to a mouse or modem. 

    H. Video/Monitor Port: As the name suggests, this port connects the monitor to the system unit. The output to be displayed on the monitor is transmitted through this connection.

    I. Parallel Port: Also called the printer port, because it connects the printer to the system unit. The data transfer speed through this port is up to eight times faster than the serial port. 

    J. Keyboard Port: It is used to connect the keyboard to the system unit.

    K. USB Port: USB stands for 'Universal Serial Bus', which is a technology standard for hardware devices that makes it easy to add serial devices (like mouse, printer etc.) to your computer. USB port is used to connect USB hardware devices with system unit. 

    L. Fan Housing: The various electronic components of the system unit generate a lot of heat while in operation. A fan, working like an exhaust fan, is placed at the rear of the system to remove excess heat from the system.

    M. Audio Jack: It is used to connect devices such as speakers, headphones, or microphones.

    3. Keyboard A typewriter-like device, with several keys, used to enter information in the computer.

    4. Mouse A hand held device used to control computer operations.

    5. External Speakers Used for transmitting audio output from the computer

    6. UPS UPS or Uninterrupted Power Supply units are attached to a computer to ensure regular power supply for a limited duration so that there is no data loss when electric power supply is cut off.

    Instructor link: Classroom activity on Hardware

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    TOPIC 1.2.2: Software Software is a set of electronic instructions that makes a computer perform various tasks. This is the component that gives a direction and purpose to a computer's functions. Software consists of complex codes that are also called as Programs. There are programs meant primarily for the computer to perform and manage its own tasks; and there are other programs for computer users to use computers for completing their tasks.

    TOPIC 1.2.3: DataAny raw facts, figures, letters, numbers, sounds or images that are fed into a computer for processing is called Data. This data is then processed by the computer according to the given set of instructions in the software. All data entered in a computer is converted into numbers and hence computerized data is called digital data. An organized set of data or program with a name is called a file or document. Users access relevant information from these files or documents.

    TOPIC 1.2.4: UsersThere are very few computers that are autonomous, i.e. capable of performing all their tasks independently without human intervention. Therefore, a computer, especially a personal computer system, is useful only when someone uses it. The people who use computers are called its users.

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    Chapter Exercises

    1. Four components of a personal computer are Hardware,_____, people, and _____.
    2. List the main features of the front part of a system unit.
    3. What is a serial port used for?
    4. What is a UPS?
    5. Explain the following terms

    a. Programs b. Digital Data c. File d. Parallel Port

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    Classroom Activities


    The instructor may explain the function and operation of the various hardware parts discussed here, and ask each student to touch and operate them.

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    Term Explanation

    Floppy Disks

    These are data storage devices. Floppy disks have a plastic or vinyl cover that is square-shaped and they contain a thin circular magnetic strip on which data is stored. The most commonly used floppy disks these days are 3.5-inch diskettes with a storage capacity of 1.44 MB. These are used to move files of programs or electronic documents between computers; loading new programs into a computer system, or as a back-up storage for programs or electronic documents. You can add data to and delete from a floppy disk.

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