Mini Course

Getting to Know Your Computer


© Morris Firebaugh


A. Disclaimers & Survey
B. Working with a Computer: Hardware
C. Creating Letters & Documents: Software
D. Saving & Finding Documents: The Desktop
E. The Basics of E-mail
F. The World Wide Web
G. Shopping Online

A. Disclaimers & Survey


Grandson Ray (at 3 years old)

Dad Morris Sr. (91 years old)

  1. Computer Jargon [bits, bytes, MB, RAM, ROM, USB, FireWire, DVD]
  2. Computer Hardware [CPU, memory, hard drive, LCD, monitor, Zip drive]
  3. Computer Software [Operating systems, Languages, Application Programs]
  4. Word Processors
  5. Spread Sheets
  6. Data Base Programs
  7. Graphics Programs
  8. E-mail
  9. World Wide Web (WWW)
  10. Web Design Software

Final Disclaimer:

For your protection, we will appoint jargon police to control our geek tendencies.

B. Working with a Computer: Hardware

What is a Computer? Are these computers?


Cell Phone

Global Positioning




Automobile Engine

Answer: Yes, they all contain "Special Purpose Computers"

However, we are interested in "General Purpose Computers"

Define: General Purpose Computer = a machine that can be programmed to accept data (input), process it (CPU) into useful information (output), and save it for later use (secondary storage).


Hewlett Packard


G3 & G4

So, functionally, what is going on?


How do we characterize a computer?

Help, Jargon Police!!! What is all this gobbledigook?

We need to understand just two terms, one defining time and one defining space:

Examples: Storage capacities of

Hardware in the MacLab - A network consisting of

For more information on Hardware go to Intro. to Computers: Hardware

C. Creating Letters & Documents: Software

Classification of Software

  1. Operating Systems
  2. Languages
  3. Application Programs

Operating Systems

  1. UNIX & Linux - Larger, mainframe computers and the Macintosh with System X
  2. Mac OS [OS 8.6, 9.1, 9.2] on Macintoshes [IBM/Motorola/Apple chips]
  3. MS-Windows [95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, NT] on PCs [Intel, AMP chips]


  1. Machine & Assembly Language
  2. High Level Languages [BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL, Pascal, C/C++, Java]
  3. Web Languages [HTML, XML, XHTML, SMIL, SVG]

Application Programs

Software available in the MacLab

Let's use a Word Processor to create a Letter

To learn fundamentals of the operating system and Microsoft WORD, we go to Word Processing Tutorial 1

For more information on Software, go to Intro. to Computers: Software

D. Saving & Finding Documents: The Desktop

In Windows OS, the Desktop contains Icons representing computer objects. Let's look at the desktop of my G4 computer.

So, what objects are represented by Icons?

What actions can you perform on these objects?

So how can we organize 51,264 Folders and 271, 402 documents (Data Files)?

Answer: A Hierarchical Filing System (HFS)

So, let's practice working with files and folders.

E. The Basics of E-mail

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will provide you with an "E-mail Address"

Use Web Browser Mail Program for Sending & Receiving Mail

Demonstrate using Netscape

F. The World Wide Web (WWW)

The WWW is an enormous network of networks. As of year 2000, there were over 1,000,000,000 unique web pages. These contain "the whole truth about everything"!

The basic tools for using the internet include:

The three main web browsers are:

The best search engine is:

Use Google to research

Some favorite web sites

G. Shopping OnLine

Three examples of doing business on the WWW

Case Study: To thank our friends in Brekenridge, CO for their hospitality in keeping us for a week of skiing we want to give them a DVD of Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann. Let's go to to try to find and buy it.

Updated February 24, 2004