The desktop computer case contains the actual computer, including a main electronics board with the computer processor and memory chips. The computer case also holds the hard drive and DVD drive. Other components such as the monitor, keyboard, and mouse connect to the case.
The monitor is similar to a television screen. It displays the results as the user interacts with the computer through the keyboard and mouse. It also presents information as the computer runs the programs.
The keyboard allows the user to type information into the computer, much like using a typewriter. It also includes special function keys which permit entering more complex commands by pressing one or more keys together or in a special sequence.
The mouse allows the user to quickly enter commands to the computer using Windows’ graphical user interface. Moving the mouse around on the desk or mouse pad moves a pointer, called the cursor, around on the screen. The user can click on the left or right button to interact with the display on the screen to select text or an object, and then perform an action on it. The mouse can easily replace many of the commands that otherwise would have to be entered with more difficulty using the keyboard.
The hard drive stores all the data, programs, and personal files that are needed to operate the computer, even while the computer power is off. The computer reads, updates, and saves the files on the hard drive. The primary hard drive in the computer case will be named the “C-drive.”
Optical Drive (DVD Player)
The optical drive reads commercial DVDs (movies) and CDs (music), as well as similar discs that contain computer data. Some optical drives can also change or write new information on special “writeable” CDs and DVDs, which can hold very large quantities of data.
This course will cover only the Windows® operating systems by Microsoft. There have been a series of Windows® systems introduced over the last two decades, each an improvement over the previous one. The most recent version is Windows® 7, although the previous operating systems, Windows® Vista and Windows® XP, are still popular.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) Ports
The USB port on a modern computer has become one of the most important and versatile connections for various external computer devices. Most computers now provide several USB ports. USB is now the standard connection for most mice, keyboards, joysticks, digital cameras, printers, scanners, flash drives and external hard drives.
USB Flash Drive
The “flash drive,” also called a “USB stick,” is a very small device… usually less than 2” long… that can store large amounts of data. When a flash drive is inserted into any of the computer’s USB ports, the computer will automatically recognize it as another data storage drive, similar to a hard drive or optical drive. The flash drive is a popular device for quickly backing up copies of important files, as well as moving copies of files from one computer to another. After transferring the data, the flash drive can be easily removed from the USB port and carried in a pocket.