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Basics of computer technology

Computer technology or computer technology is the technical area that deals with information processing systems and devices. Usually it's about computers. The basics of computer technology are based on digital technology and microelectronics.
Computer technology consists of the sub-areas of computer architectures, processor architectures, storage technologies and the interfaces between man and machine. Computer technology is used in microprocessors, computers in general and hardware-related software.
Computer technology or computer technology is a component of many courses. For example IT, electrical engineering and automation technology.


Hardware is the collective term for all devices or parts in computer technology. This includes everything that is "hard", i.e. that can be touched.


In computer technology, software stands for programs and operating systems that can be stored in digital memory.
The operating system and the application programs that breathe life into the microcomputer are permanently and indelibly stored in ROM (read-only memory). Nowadays the software is more likely to be stored on a hard drive. When the computer is switched on, the data is loaded from the ROM or from the hard disk into the working memory and executed.
The firmware describes a special software that controls the basic functions of the respective hardware component.

Software: programs and applications

  • Office applications / Office
  • image editing
  • Video editing
  • CAD
  • measuring technology
  • Control technology
  • Games
  • System programs

Software: operating system

An operating system (OS) is a collection of system programs that establish the connection between hardware and application software. The operating system enables application programs to be started and executed. The operating system also allows access to the hardware. For example, access to files that are stored on a data carrier, the display of images on a screen and data and commands input via a keyboard.
The operating system contains functions for application programs that do not have to be reprogrammed for each application program. An operating system is an ecosystem in which application programs can run and work.

Examples: operating systems

  • Windows (Microsoft)
  • macOS (Apple)
  • OS / 2 (IBM)
  • Linux (kernel and numerous distributions)
  • Unix

Computer architectures

The different computer architectures are usually based on technical developments and different applications. A computer for private use is structured differently than a server or an industrial PC. However, the origin is the concept of the Von Neumann computer, which manifested itself in the PC concept from IBM.
The PC concept from IBM ensured that personal computers (PC) could quickly establish themselves as work equipment. Modular and standardized hardware and largely freely programmable and downwardly compatible software have long been considered an ingenious concept. The disadvantage of this flexible architecture are huge compatibility and stability problems. As a rule, you have that very well under control. Unfortunately, the high level of compatibility in particular slows down the whole system and the user has to live with grown technical crutches for a long time.
In contrast, the platform approach is a welcome alternative for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. With these devices, a single manufacturer holds all the strings in hand. Hardware and software are controlled and optimized by a manufacturer. There is no complicated hardware and software structure. This means that hardware detection can be dispensed with at start-up because the system is highly integrated and cannot be expanded. There is also no need to reload drivers because the mechanisms of extensions are already defined in advance. In contrast to this, a modern PC has to deal with all kinds of interfaces and external devices that are also connected or removed during operation.
Classic PCs and notebooks have a high degree of flexibility and expandability. As a result, the devices have to be larger, have a thicker battery and are correspondingly more expensive. But even with PCs, the journey is moving in the direction of highly integrated systems. In the future, PCs will only be upgraded and converted via USB, as is the case with notebooks.

Processor / microprocessor

The processor or microprocessor is a complex digital circuit housed in a single housing. The processor takes over calculation and control tasks in a computer.

Semiconductor memory

Semiconductor memory is used for the temporary or unlimited storage of data, states and programs in the form of digital signals.

Interfaces and bus systems

Interfaces are required to connect external devices to a computer. An interface defines the definition of the physical properties of the interface lines.

System components

Important system components are the main processor, the main memory, a data memory, various interfaces and an internal bus system that connects all system components with one another.

Drives and external devices

Drives and external devices are used to load or save data externally on a computer. There is also the other way of backing up data from the computer to an external device or storage medium.


A virtualization software or virtualizer is a program that reproduces complete PCs including BIOS, CPU, graphics card, hard drives and so on in software. These virtual PCs are called virtual machines (VM). Operating systems can be installed on it like on a real PC. However, they then run in a program window of the host operating system. In this way, different programs from different operating systems can be installed and executed at the same time.

Standards in computer technology

Standards in computer technology that have been comprehensively specified by an industrial or standardization committee have a better chance of being widely used than proprietary components or interfaces.
In the IT sector, file formats and protocols are referred to as "proprietary" that do not correspond to generally recognized standards. These are, so to speak, "in-house" developments that are not open-source and usually require a license.
While in the early days of computer technology individual companies, above all IBM and Intel, provided industry standards, today many companies form groups to develop and promote standards together.
Standards offer buyers more choice, compatibility and investment security. However, hardware manufacturers suffer from the fact that they can hardly set themselves apart from the competition. Constantly falling prices with a simultaneous increase in performance is good for customers. This creates a market environment in which manufacturers and retailers find it very difficult. The computer industry is considered to be the market with the lowest margin. The price drop for standard components occurs extremely quickly.

Compatibility in computer technology

Compatibility means something like compatibility or compatibility. If two devices are compatible with each other, but one device has been improved or expanded, then one speaks of downward or upward compatible. Something is backward compatible if it also works with an older component. Something is forward compatible if it also works with a newer component.
Two programs are data-compatible with one another if they can receive input data of the same type and supply output data of the same type. They are functionally compatible with one another if they generate the same output values ​​from the same input values.
Two devices are connector or connector compatible with each other if they fit the same connectors or interfaces. They are functionally compatible with one another if they can perform the same functions. For example, drives for removable and mass storage devices are functionally compatible. But they are available in external and internal versions. This means that although they are not compatible with each other, their function is the same.
Two computers are program compatible with each other if both can execute the same programs.

Driver in IT

It is mainly the innovations in computer technology that have prevailed that can be used on the great majority of all systems. This means that innovations that rely on standards and compatibility have a great chance of asserting themselves.

Units of measure: bits and bytes

The most common units of measurement in computing are bits and bytes. Whereby byte is a multiple of bits. 1 byte is 8 bits. Or 8 bits are 1 byte. Both units are also prefixed with prefixes if the values ​​exceed 1,000 or 1,024.

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Everything you need to know about computer technology.

Computer technology primer

The computer technology primer is a book about the basics of computer technology, processor technology, semiconductor memory, interfaces, data storage devices, drives and important hardware components.

I want that!

Everything you need to know about computer technology.

Computer technology primer

The computer technology primer is a book about the basics of computer technology, processor technology, semiconductor memory, interfaces, data storage devices, drives and important hardware components.

I want that!