Over the next few weeks I will write a four part series on "How a Computer Works". I realize this has been covered many times before but it never hurts to have another perspective. I will try and write these articles as non-technical as possible and hope you enjoy the series and that you will find it informative. The four part series titles are as follows:
Ready, Set, Power On
In this first article we will take a look at what happens when we first turn a computer on. From the power surging into the computer's vein to the CPU waking up.
The CPU and the Rest of the Crew
In this second article we will examine how a CPU works and other major computer components like the monitor, video, keyboard, mouse, sound, and other components.
"What We Have Here Is Failure to Communicate"
In this third article we will discuss how a computer communicates with itself, other components, and how programs talk to the computer.
Is There Any Body Out There?
In this last article of the series we will look at general computer operation including programming, software, networks, and the internet.
I will publish these in my blog and as each one is published a link will be added to the above list. This introduction will be added to each article in the series.
"Is There Any Body Out There?"
Part 4 in a 4 Part Series
In the previous three articles we discussed how a computer powers on and how it communicates with itself. We discovered that a computer uses electrons in a ready state to react to communication with itself, internal devices, programs, and external devices. This communication relies on electrical influence and interpretation of changes in the electrical configuration of the system circuits. The changes in the electrical configuration influence the predetermined system configurations and programming code. We talked about how program code translates into machine language, which is the actual conduit of allowing a computer to react electrically with a measured and predictable response. In this last article we will explore how programming and programs relate to this process and how we can use a computer to communicate with others.
We have talked about how communication is the reason a computer can operate. Communication is also the prime use of computers. In programming, the routines and flow of code closely mimic how a computer communicates with itself. The ready state, if/or/else, looping, and other programming routines, are the same processes a computer uses to operate electrically. No matter what language we program with, the basic fundamentals of computer communications remain constant.
Programming the code
When a program's routine directs a 'GOTO' a location in other code elements or memory addresses it is instructing electrons to react in certain ways to perform a task. That task is an electrical reaction to the combination of code elements that are processed by the system. Just as we discussed in the previous article, "What We Have Here Is Failure to Communicate" , the pre-configured reactions to a controlled electron flow is manipulated by the sequence of characters in the code. The simple display of a number on the monitor screen requires a collection of programming reactions and by pressing a keyboard key or by executing code that represents the same electrical actions we initiate that process.
The unique properties that allow a computer to work and process information also allows programming to integrate those processes in a number of facets to perform endless tasks and to communicate information both electrically and visually. The computer has several layers of communication working in harmony to perform detailed operations. Programming code is not only written to take advantage of this but also to duplicate it in virtual electrical circuits that contain the same multi-faceted communication processes.
The circle of communication
As a user who utilizes these programs we can communicate with the computer, with each other, and with the world. We can express our thoughts, get needed information, and create; limited only by our imagination. By understanding that computer communication starts with a tiny spark of electron flow we can better understand that the information we have and the information we require are communicated with the catalyst of information itself.
The apex of computer communication will be when information stored or sent from anywhere is retrieved or sent with complete understanding regardless of the source or destination. Databases that are linked without the boundaries of native language. Information retrieval that is precise to the information requested. Information that is a collective instead of information locked behind doors of incompatibility and the barriers of human language. Understanding or interpreting information is at the very core of computer operations. If that information is contextually and semantically received universally then the circle will be complete. What if we discover that the most universally accepted language is machine code. If that is true then we must build the layers of communication code to finally deliver that which only the electrons can interpret and react upon.
Jim Atkins 'thedosmann'