Computers are capable of doing more things every year. There are many advantages to
knowing how to use a computer, and it is important that everyone know how to use them
properly. Using the information I have gathered, and my own knowledge from my 12 years of
computer experience, I will explain the many advantages of owning a computer and knowing how
to use a PC and I will attempt to explain why you should purchase a computer and learn how to
use one properly.
Webster's New World Compact Dictionary defines a computer as "an electronic machine that
performs rapid, complex calculations or compiles and correlates data" ("Computer."). While this
definition gives one a very narrow view of what a computer is capable of doing, it does describe
the basic ideas of what I will expand upon. We have been living through an age of computers for a
short while now and there are already many people world wide that are computer literate.
According to Using Computers: A Gateway to Information World Wide Web Edition, over 250
million Personal Computers (PC's) were in use by 1995, and one out of every three homes had a
PC (Shelly, Cashman,& Waggoner, 138).
Computers are easy to use when you know how they work and what the parts are. All
computers perform the four basic operations of the information processing cycle: input, process,
output, and storage. Data, any kind of raw facts, is required for the processing cycle to occur.
Data is processed into useful information by the computer hardware. Most computer systems
consist of a monitor, a system unit which contains the Central Processing Unit (CPU), a
floppy-disk drive, a CD-ROM drive, speakers, a keyboard, a mouse, and a printer. Each
component takes a part in one of the four operations.
The keyboard and mouse are input devices that a person uses to enter data into the computer.
From there the data goes to the system unit where it is processed into useful information the
computer can understand and work with. Next the processed data can be sent to storage devices
or to output devices. Normally output is sent to the monitor and stored on the hard-disk or to a
floppy-disk located internal of the system unit. Output can also be printed out through the printer,
or can be played through the speakers as sound depending on the form it takes after it is
Once you have grasped a basic understanding of the basic parts and operations of a computer,
you can soon discover what you can do with computers to make life easier and more enjoyable.
Being computer literate allows you to use many powerful software applications and utilities to do
work for school, business, or pleasure. Microsoft is the current leading producer of many of these
applications and utilities.
Microsoft produces software called operating systems that manage and regulate the
information processing cycle. The oldest of these is MS-DOS, a single user system that uses typed
commands to initiate tasks. Currently Microsoft has available operating systems that use visual
cues such as icons to help enter data and run programs. These operating systems are ran under
an environment called a Graphical User Interface (GUI's). Such operating systems include
Windows 3.xx, Windows 95, and Windows NT Workstation. Windows 95 is geared more for use
in the home for productivity and game playing whereas Windows NT is more business orientated.
The article entitled "Mine, All Mine" in the June 5, 1995 issue of Time stated that 8 out of 10
PC's worldwide would not be able to start or run if it were not for Microsoft's operating systems
like MS-DOS, Windows 95, and Windows NT (Elmer-Dewitt, 1995, p. 50).
By no means has Microsoft limited itself to operating systems alone. Microsoft has also
produced a software package called Microsoft Office that is very useful in creating reports, data
bases, spreadsheets, presentations, and other documents for school and work. Microsoft Office:
Introductory Concepts and Techniques provides a detailed, step-by-step approach to the four
programs included in Microsoft Office.
Included in this package are Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, and
Microsoft PowerPoint. Microsoft Word is a word processing program that makes creating
professional looking documents such as announcements, resumes, letters, address books, and
reports easy to do. Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet program, has features for data organization,
calculations, decision making, and graphing. It is very useful in making professional looking
reports. Microsoft Access, a powerful database management system, is useful in creating and
processing data in a database. Microsoft PowerPoint is ". . a complete presentation graphics
program that allows you to produce professional looking presentations" (Shelly, Cashman, &
Vermaat, 2). PowerPoint is flexible enough so that you can create electronic presentations,
overhead transparencies, or even 35mm slides.
Microsoft also produces entertainment and reference programs. "Microsoft's Flight Simulator
is one of the best selling PC games of all time" (Elmer-Dewitt, 50). Microsoft's Encarta is an
electronic CD-ROM encyclopedia that makes for a fantastic alternative to 20 plus volume book
encyclopedias. In fact, it is so popular, it outsells the Encyclopedia Britannica. These powerful
business, productivity, and entertainment applications are just the beginning of what you can do
with a PC.
Knowing how to use the Internet will allow you access to a vast resource of facts, knowledge,
information, and entertainment that can help you do work and have fun. According to Netscape
Navigator 2 running under Windows 3.1, "the Internet is a collection of networks, each of which
is composed of a collection of smaller networks" (Shelly, Cashman, & Jordan, N2). Information
can be sent over the Internet through communication lines in the form of graphics, sound, video,
animation, and text. These forms of computer media are known as hypermedia. Hypermedia is
accessed through hypertext links, which are pointers to the computer where the hypermedia is
stored. The World Wide Web (WWW) is the collection of these hypertext links throughout the
Internet. Each computer that contains hypermedia on the WWW is known as a Web site and has
Web pages set up for users to access the hypermedia. Browsers such as Netscape allow people to
"surf the net" and search for the hypermedia of their choice.
There are millions of examples of hypermedia on the Internet. You can find art, photos,
information on business, the government, and colleges, television schedules, movie reviews, music
lyrics, online news and magazines, sport sights of all kinds, games, books, and thousands of other
hypermedia on the WWW. You can send electronic mail (E-Mail), chat with other users around
the world, buy airline, sports, and music tickets, and shop for a house or a car. All of this, and
more, provides one with a limitless supply of information for research, business, entertainment, or
other personal use. Online services such as America Online, Prodigy, or CompuServe make it
even easier to access the power of the Internet. The Internet alone is almost reason enough to
become computer literate, but there is still much more that computers can do.
Knowing how to use a computer allows you to do a variety of things in several different ways.
One of the most popular use for computers today is for playing video games. With a PC you can
play card games, simulation games, sport games, strategy games, fighting games, and adventure
games. Today's technology provides the ultimate experiences in color, graphics, sound, music,
full motion video, animation, and 3D effects. Computers have also become increasingly useful in
the music, film, and television industry. Computers can be used to compose music, create sound
effects, create special effects, create 3D life-like animation, and add previous existing movie and
TV footage into new programs, as seen in the movie Forrest Gump. All this and more can be
done with computers.
There is truly no time like the present to become computer literate. Computers will be doing
even more things in the future and will become unavoidable. Purchasing and learning about a new
PC now will help put PC's into the other two-thirds of the homes worldwide and make the
transition into a computer age easier.
"Computer." Webster's New World Compact School and Office Dictionary. 1995.
Elmer-Dewitt, P. "Mine, All Mine." Time Jun. 1995: 46-54.
Shelly, G., T. Cashman, and K. Jordan. Netscape Navigator 2 Running Under Windows 3.1.
Danvers: Boyd & Fraser Publishing Co., 1996.
Shelly, G., T. Cashman, and M. Vermaat. Microsoft Office Introductory Concepts and
Techniques. Danvers: Boyd & Fraser Publishing Co., 1995.
Shelly, G., T. Cashman, G. Waggoner, and W. Waggoner. Using Computers: A Gateway to
Information World Wide Web Edition. Danvers: Boyd & Fraser Publishing Co., 1996.
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