Chapter 2 Learning Objectives


After reading Section A, you should be able to:

  • describe the difference between an analog device and a digital device
  • define the term “binary”
  • explain how the binary number system relates to computers
  • provide examples of character data
  • list at least two codes that are used by computers to represent character data
  • differentiate between a “bit” and a “byte”
  • explain ways in which a computer might represent words using bits
  • define the prefixes “kilo,” “mega,” and “giga”
  • identify the main components of a PC’s system unit
  • explain the importance of an integrated circuit
  • recognize common chip carriers
  • define the term “motherboard”


After reading Section B, you should be able to:

  • define the term “microprocessor”
  • describe the role of the ALU
  • discuss the relationship between microprocessor speed and computer performance
  • explain how cache affects performance
  • differentiate between CISC and RISC
  • explain the differences in serial processing, parallel processing, and pipelining
  • define the term “benchmark”
  • discuss the importance RAM in the operation of a computer
  • describe how RAM differs from disk storage
  • differentiate between RAM and ROM
  • explain the function of CMOS memory
  • decipher the memory and microprocessor specifications found in computer advertisements


After reading Section C, you should be able to:

  • name the two basic components of a data storage system
  • describe how a storage system interacts with other components of a computer
  • discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of magnetic vs. optical storage technology
  • define the term “read-write head”
  • explain the difference between random access and sequential access
  • compare storage devices using the criteria of versatility, durability, capacity, and speed
  • describe the advantages and disadvantages of floppy disk technology
  • explain the purpose of a write-protect window
  • outline how a hard disk drive works
  • list possible causes of a head crash
  • explain the purpose of a tape drive
  • differentiate between CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, and DVD technologies


After reading Section D, you should be able to:

  • explain the importance of an expansion card
  • name three major types of expansion slots
  • list types of ports that are typically built into a desktop computer
  • identify common expansion cable connectors 
  • Explain the popularity of USB
  • explain the term “device driver”
  • name the components of a computer display system
  • explain the difference between CRT and LCD technology
  • discuss the factors that affect the image quality on a display device
  • describe the relationship between a monitor’s resolution setting and text size
  • remember the resolutions provided by VGA, SVGA, XGA, SXGA, and UXGA graphics card standards
  • detail the general differences between desktop and notebook computer display systems
  • list the features to be considered when choosing a printer
  • list the types of printers available to consumers today
  • compare and contrast the features of an ink-jet printer with those of a laser printer

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