Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.
A major part of the technological revolution which has transformed our lives is the intelligence that is now built into everyday gadgets and into the machines that produce them. For instance, Africa, which is generally regarded as lagging behind in terms of development, leads the world in the use of “Mobile Money”, i.e. the use of mobile phones to transfer money, and in this way leapfrogging intermediate levels of technology. This lesson examines some of the elements that contribute to this technological revolution - such as software, firmware, robotics, microcode, miniaturisation, microprocessors – and indicates some exciting developments that are underway.
What is a Computer?
Traditionally computers have been number-crunching machines, which first filled whole rooms but now can be held in the palm of your hand. In fact, any device that uses electronic means to capture an input and transform it using a set of instructions electronically into a useful output is essentially a computer. Computer systems are broadly composed of two main parts: the hardware or physical components of the system and the software or programs that provide the instructions telling the computer what to do. The hardware elements comprise five main components:
1. input devices, which capture some physical aspect of the world such as keystroke, change in temperature, audible signal etc.
2. processing unit or CPU (Central Processing Unit), which carries out the software instructions;
3. processing memory: RAM (Random Access Memory), which acts as temporary memory,
4. storage memory: ROM (Read Only Memory), which provides a permanent memory; and
5. output devices: e.g. printers, displays or mechanical tools.
Software controls every element of hardware. This is most evident in the programs used by the CPU that process information for personal or business use, such as word processing, numeric calculations, and games. One classification of software distinguishes...
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