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This page is part of the old A451 specification - current syllabus here

2. A computer system

A computer system is one that is able to take a set of inputs, process them and create a set of outputs. This is done by a combination of hardware and software.

The diagram below shows you the idea of a computer system in its most basic form

a computer system

The computer system has one or more inputs to provide data. This data is then processed in some way. The outcome of the processing is sent to an output or it may be stored until some event happens to cause it to be output.

For processing to take place, there needs to be a set of instructions of what needs to be done. This set of instructions is called a program.

This system is called a stored-program computer.

The very first commercial computer in the entire world of this type was built in Britain in 1949 and was called the Manchester (Ferranti) Mark 1, see below.

The beauty of this type of computer system is that it is flexible - the machine performs a different task by simply loading a different program from storage.

Mark 1 computer


Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: stored program computer