Computing Hardware

The History

Tim Burners-Lee

Tim Burners-Lee was born on 8th of June 1955 and he was a computer scientist. When he was young he loved to play with train sets and go train spotting. When he was older he received a knighthood for his work with the internet. He was the man who invented the world wide web.

He received a knighthood in 2004 from Queen Elizabeth II.

He is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) a group set up to oversee the development of the World Wide Web.

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The First Generation

The first computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory, and were often enormous, taking up entire rooms. They were very expensive to operate and in addition to using a great deal of electricity, generated a lot of heat, which was often the cause of malfunctions.

First generation computers relied on machine lanuage, the lowest-level programming language understood by computers, to perform operations, and they could only solve one problem at a time. Input was based on punched cards and paper tape, and output was displayed on printouts.

The Second Generation

Transistors replaced vacuum tubes and ushered in the second generation of computers. The transistor was invented in 1947 but did not see widespread use in computers until the late 1950s. The transistor was far superior to the vacuum tube, allowing computers to become smaller, faster, cheaper, more energy-efficient and more reliable than their first-generation predecessors. Though the transistor still generated a great deal of heat that subjected the computer to damage, it was a vast improvement over the vacuum tube. Second-generation computers still relied on punched cards for input and printouts for output.

The Third Generation

The development of the integrated circuit was the hallmark of the third generation of computers. Transistors were miniaturized and placed on silicon chips, called semiconductors, which drastically increased the speed and efficiency of computers.

Instead of punched cards and printouts, users interacted with third generation computers through keyboards and monitors and interfaced with an operating system, which allowed the device to run many different applications at one time with a central program that monitored the memory. Computers for the first time became accessible to a mass audience because they were smaller and cheaper than their predecessors.

The Forth Generation

The microprocessor brought the fourth generation of computers, as thousands of integrated circuits were built onto a single silicon chip. What in the first generation filled an entire room could now fit in the palm of the hand. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, located all the components of the computer—from the central processing unit and memory to input/output controls—on a single chip.

In 1981 IBM introduced its first computer for the home user, and in 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh. Microprocessors also moved out of the realm of desktop computers and into many areas of life as more and more everyday products began to use microprocessors.

The Fifth Generation

Fifth generation computing devices, based on artificial intelligence are still in development, though there are some applications, such as voice recognition, that are being used today. The use of parallel processing and superconductors is helping to make artificial intelligence a reality. Quantum computation and molecular and nanotechnology will radically change the face of computers in years to come. The goal of fifth-generation computing is to develop devices that respond to natural language input and are capable of learning and self-organization.

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was an English mathematician, wartime code-breaker and pioneer of computer science.

He was born on 23 June, 1912, in London. His father was in the Indian Civil Service and Turing's parents lived in India until his father's retirement in 1926. Turing and his brother stayed with friends and relatives in England. Turing studied mathematics at Cambridge University, and subsequently taught there, working in the burgeoning world of quantum mechanics. It was at Cambridge that he developed the proof which states that automatic computation cannot solve all mathematical problems. This concept, also known as the Turing machine, is considered the basis for the modern theory of computation.

Find Out More!!!

Find out lots more about Alan Turing using videos, pictures and information.

Inputs and Outputs

Instead of using lots more boring writing here is a picture for you to learn what is an input and what is an output....
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A drive is a medium that is capable of storing and reading information that is not easily removed like a disk. The picture is an example of different drives listed in Microsoft Windows My Computer.

In the example shown on this page, drive A: is the floppy drive, C: is the hard disk drive, D: and E: partitions of the hard drive, and F: is the CD-ROM drive. Typically the CD-ROM drive is the last drive so in most situations the hard drive is the C: drive and a CD-ROM or other disc drive is the D: drive.

Below are some examples of different drives you could have in a computer or that may be accessible by the computer.

Types of computer drives


The monitor is the piece of computer hardware that displays the video and graphics information generated by the computer through the video card.

Monitors are very similar to televisions but usually display information at a much higher resolution.

Early electronic computers were fitted with a panel of light bulbs where the state of each particular bulb would indicate the on/off state of a particular register bit inside the computer. This allowed the engineers operating the computer to monitor the internal state of the machine, so this panel of lights came to be known as the 'monitor'. As early monitors were only capable of displaying a very limited amount of information, and were very transient, they were rarely considered for programme output. Instead, a line printer was the primary output device, while the monitor was limited to keeping track of the programme's operation.

As technology developed it was realized that the output of a CRT display was more flexible than a panel of light bulbs and eventually, by giving control of what was displayed to the programme itself, the monitor itself became a powerful output device in its own right.


The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the part of a computer system that is commonly referred to as the "brains" of a computer. The CPU is also known as the processor or microprocessor.

The CPU is responsible for executing a sequence of stored instructions called a program. This program will take inputs from an input device, process the input in some way and output the results to an output device.

CPUs aren’t only found in desktop or laptop computers, many electronic devices now rely on them for their operation. Mobile phones, DVD players and washing machines are examples of equipment that have a CPU.


There is one major difference between a ROM and a RAM chip. A ROM chip is non-volatile storage and does not require a constant source of power to retain information stored on it. When power is lost or turned off, a ROM chip will keep the information stored on it. In contrast, a RAM chip is volatile and requires a constant source of power to retain information. When power is lost or turned off, a RAM chip will lose the information stored on it.A good example of ROM in the computer is the computer BIOS, a PROM chip that stores the programming needed to begin the initial computer start up process. Using a non-volatile storage is the only way to begin the start up process for computers and other devices that use a similar start up process. ROM chips are also used in gaming system cartridges, like the original Nintendo, Gameboy, Sega Genesis, and a number of others. The game cartridge stores the game programming on a ROM chip that is read by the game console when the cartridge is inserted into the console.RAM chips are also used in computers, as well as other devices, to store information and run programs on the computer because RAM is one of the fastest memory in your computer. For example, the Internet browser you are using to read this page has been loaded into memory and is running from memory. However, as mentioned earlier, any information stored in the RAM chip is lost if the computer is turned off or loses power.


Alternatively referred to as the mb, mainboard, mobo, mobd, backplane board, base board, main circuit board, planar board, system board, or a logic board on Apple computers. The motherboard is a printed circuit board that is the foundation of a computer, located at the bottom of the computer case. It allocates power to the CPU, RAM, and all other computer hardware components. Most importantly, the motherboard allows hardware components to communicate with one another.

Below is a picture of the ASUS P5AD2-E motherboard with names of each major component of the motherboard. Clicking on the image below gives you a larger more detailed version of the picture below.

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. What’s more, the Raspberry Pi has the ability to interact with the outside world, and has been used in a wide array of digital maker projects, from music machines and parent detectors to weather stations and tweeting birdhouses with infra-red cameras. We want to see the Raspberry Pi being used by kids all over the world to learn to program and understand how computers work. The Model A costs $25 and the Model B and the Model B+ cost $35, plus local taxes and shipping/handling fees.
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Just Bought A Raspberry Pi? 11 Things You Need To Know


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