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Thread: Understanding the PC?

  1. #1 Understanding the PC? 
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    Apr 2010
    Hey fellas, my first post - In need of some serious explanations, so I figured I'd join this forum ; ). I'm sure I could go and find this somewhere else however I want a real persons thoughts - and not some article. This way I can ask questions as well!

    I'm having a real hard time actually comprehending, and actually understanding how a computer works. Sure, I "know" how it works. But knowing and understanding something are two completely different things. So let's get down to it - please forgive my ignorance, and the fact I took some benadryl a few hours ago to help sleep(which hasn't worked as you can see ; ).

    Okay, any time I ask someone how a computer works. The answer is always "Computers work by using electrical components, and by sending eletrical signals - The langauge of these singals is quite simple, and acts like a light switch. 0 means off, while 1 means on. Thus, you have the Binary Code.

    Well, I've got news - that doesn't help a bit... I really want to UNDERSTAND why and how it actually works. How in the hell does sending an eletrical signal through a piece of metal compute, and calculate? How do computers think? How do computers know the language already? Why don't we use a more complex language, other then 0s and 1s? Like using the eight other available digits?

    It just completely boggles my mind - even though I understand our brains likely do it in the same way. That typing 01011100101010010111 can make a computer figure out the way the universe was made! (with enough power that is). I just don't see how the PC in the first place understands it all.

    So any help would be appreciated fellas I'll definitely come back, and again, please forgive my ignorance. I'm probably sure there will be no simple solution, or answer, but I have the time if you do! Any helpful links would be helpful. Just keep in mind - I have no computing/eletrical background what's so ever ; ) hehe.

    Thanks again!

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  3. #2  
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    Aug 2009
    computers make complex decisions using simple boolean logic. AND OR NOT are the 3 gates in which a computer makes a decision. this is based on the activity of electrical signals and in some cases the strength of the signal in a digital computer (or analog? i dont remember). Compters cannot think on their own, obviously, so our input (text, numbers, etc...) is converted into machine code, or binary. This allows the computer to understand our input, and based on the system of logic it has, formulates an answer.

    im incredibly tired, therefore all grammar goes out the window.

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  4. #3  
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    Feb 2010
    You could try starting on wiki: and see where the links lead you. You might also want to look up Turing Machines which were the first theoretical foray into artificial computing.

    Along the lines of the previous post, at the bottom of every computer is a lump of sand that has been specially massaged to be able to interpret patterns of binary input bits as instructions for boolean logic operations AND, OR, NOT. By being able to store the results of previous operations and re-process them, all "standard" logic and mathematics can be implemented. By virtue of being able to interpret sequential inputs, that logic and math can "go on forever" to perform very complicated manipulations of data.

    Digital computers use binary numbers because they are the simplest representation. Other number bases can be simulated by using sets of binary digits so it's not really an issue that each computer digit has only two values. There were, and still are, analog computers that use continuous voltage or current signals instead of binary but they turn out to be more complicated in the long run. Quantum computers are a newer version of this...
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  5. #4  
    Forum Freshman Goddard's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    I think this question is a excellent question. It would be nice to hear more opinions.
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  6. #5 Computer's working........ 
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    Jul 2010
    Bhubaneswar, India
    Hey "SEV7"...... U asked why only 0's n 1's are used for language of computers.. see.. think of a machine.. any machine (starting from motor, generators to computers) can understand only one thing, signal is provided or not... if signal is provided that machine has to work accordingly and if not then simply stand...
    In case of computers all information is converted to signals.. a signal can be in either two states.. either it will carry ENERGY or it will not carry... u can't think of any other state.. that energy is represented on paper as "1" ....... and when the signal is not carrying any energy, it is represented as "0"....


    thus all the characters (1,2,3,...,a,A,b,B,.......) or special characters (@,*,#,.....) are assigned some values in binary(1/0) format....... all assignments are different, so they represent different characters... like..
    0 ...... 0000
    1 ........... 0001
    2............ 0010


    now one more thing...

    different computers have different bit (1/0) storage schemes..

    some represent data in 8 bits format like ... 0000 0011
    some represent data in 8 bits format like ... 0011 1110 0000 0011

    u can check that.. an 8 bit representation has 256 different combination of 1's and 0's .......

    thus 256 different characters can be represented by 8 bits...


    0000 0001
    0000 0011
    0011 0110
    1001 1111


    thus 256 different combination .....


    simply remember one thing..
    1 .......... energy (ON)
    0 ........ no energy (OFF)


    imagine this on a set of 8 bulbs connected to 8 wires..
    ON/OFF those bulbs.. and check different combination.....

    any doubt, regarding bits.. pls reply.... good luck
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