The machine is an electronic system, running under the control of instructions stored in its own memory, capable of receiving data, processing data according to specified rules, generating results and storing results for future use.
Data and Information
Computers process data into information. Data is a set of unprocessed items that may include text, numbers, images, audio, and video. Knowledge conveys meaning and is of benefit to people. Computers process a variety of data items to print information in the form of a grade sheet.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Computers
Society has reaped many benefits from the use of computers. Company and home users will make educated choices because they have easy access to information from anywhere in the world. The user is someone who interacts with a computer or uses the knowledge it produces. Students, another form of consumer, have more resources to help them understand. Read Looking Ahead 1-1 for a glimpse at the next generation of machine advantages.
ADVANTAGES OF USING COMPUTERS
Computer benefits are possible because computers have the advantages of speed, reliability, accuracy, storage and communication.
- Speed: As data, commands, and knowledge flow along with electronic circuits on a device, they fly at extremely fast speeds. In a single second, several computers process billions or trillions of operations.
- Reliability: Electronic components of modern computers are robust and efficient because they never break or crash.
- Consistency: In view of the same data and procedures, the computer will generate the same results — consistently. Computers produce error-free results, provided that the data is correct and the instructions work.
- Storage: Computers store massive quantities of data and make this data available for processing at any time it is required.
- Communications: Most computers can communicate with other computers today, often wirelessly. Computers allow users to interact with each other.
DISADVANTAGES OF USING COMPUTERS
Many of the machine drawbacks relate to violations of privacy, public safety, the effect on the workers, health threats and the impact on the environment.
- Violation of Privacy: In several cases where sensitive and confidential information has not been adequately secured, people have had their privacy violated and their identities have been stolen.
- Public Safety: Adults, teenagers, and children around the world use computers to publicly share their images, videos, blogs, songs, and other personal information. Many of these naive, innocent computer users have become victims of crimes committed by dangerous strangers.
- Impact on Labor Force: While computers have increased productivity and produced a whole industry with hundreds of thousands of new jobs, the skills of millions of workers have been replaced by computers. It is also important that staff keep their schooling up-to-date. A different effect on the workforce is that some businesses are exporting employment to foreign countries instead of having their homeland workers working.
- Health Risks: Prolonged or excessive use of computers can lead to health accidents or disorders. Computer users can protect themselves from health hazards by careful design of the workplace, good posture while on the machine, and regularly spaced work breaks. Another health danger, called computer addiction, happens when someone becomes obsessed with using a computer.
- Impact on Environment: Computer manufacturing processes and electronic waste are depleting renewable resources and polluting the atmosphere. Strategies that can help protect the environment include recycling, control of industrial practices, maximizing the life of machines, and the immediate donation of replacement machines.
Information Processing Cycle
Computers process the data (input) to the information (output). A computer also stores data, information, and instructions for future use. Instructions are the instructions that tell the machine how to execute a given function. Many people refer to the sequence of input, processing, output and storage operations as the information processing cycle. Furthermore, communications have also been a central element of the information management cycle.