How Computers Work

How Computers Work

May 9, 2022 103 Views

Madison Maxey, Smart Fabric Designer

Topics: Device, Computers, Storage

Transcript Excerpt

A milling machine takes a rotating cutting tool and moves it through the material to create a 3D object. Under the hood, all computers do the same. The input information stores the data and then outputs information for basic things. Each of these things ends with a different part of the computer. There is input that connects to a device that takes input from the outside world and converts it into binary information. There isn’t memory to store this information. There is a central processing unit (CPU), where all the calculations are done, and finally, there is an output device that takes data and converts it into physical output. Computers can take many different input types, like the keyboard of a laptop, a touchpad of a phone, a camera, a microphone, or a GPS, but even the sensors on a car, a thermostat, or a drone are also different types of inputs. A simple example of how input travels through a computer and becomes an output is when people press a key on their keyboard. For instance, the keyboard converts the letter to a number in the letter B. That number is sent as binary ones and zeros into the computer. Starting from this number, the CPU calculates how to display the letter B pixel by pixel. The CPU requests step-by-step instructions from memory which tell it how to draw the letter B. The CPU runs to see instructions and stores the result as pixels in memory. Finally, this pixel information is sent in binary to the screen. The screen is an output device that converts the binary signals into the tiny lights and colours that make up what they see. This all happens so quickly it feels instantaneous, but to display each letter, a computer, and thousands of instructions starting from the moment their finger presses the keyboard. In that example, the output device was screaming, but there are many different types of outputs that take a binary signal from the computer and do something in the physical world. For example, a speaker will play sounds, and a 3D printer will print an object. An output device could also control physical motion like a robotic arm—the motor of a car or the cutting tool of the milling machine that the company creates. New types of inputs and outputs let computers interact with the world in entirely new ways. This has been helped by improving the speed and size of the memory and CPU. The more complicated a task is, and the more information input or output, the more processing power and memory of computer needs. Typing letters on a screen may be easy. Still, to do complicated 3D graphics or record a high-definition movie, modern computers often have multiple CPUs to process all that information and many gigabytes of memory to store it. No matter what people want to do with the computer, every action is about inputting information from the physical world—storing and processing that information and getting some output back into the physical world.