Computer Systems

In and of itself, a computer is a complex system of components. But it can also be part of a larger system of communication, the internet, that links computer networks around the world.

The Y2K problem is a good example of how systems are interconnected. Will Y2K be TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It)? How can one little glitch in the operating systems of computers possibly cause so many problems?  It's because in the world that we live in, computer systems are so interconnected to the daily activities of humans. Is this interdependent world different from the world that your grandparents or great-grandparents lived in? How?

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about computer systems.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

The following are places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out about computer systems.

The Apple Museum
Learn about the history of the Apple Computer company from this online museum.
History of the Binary System
Visit the world of 1s and 0s to understand the binary system which is the language of computers.
How Microsoft Works
Find out how this software company got started and how it works today.
John W. Mauchly and the Development of the ENIAC Computer
John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert designed ENIAC (Electronic Numeric Integrator and Computer) at the end of World War II. The enormous computer cost $500,000 and took up 1800 square feet of space and weighed 30 tons. When it was turned on, it often used up so much electricity that it caused blackouts in Philadelphia.
Konrad Zuse
Travel to Germany in the 1930s. It is thought that a German engineer named Konrad Zuse produced the first computer. He said, “I was too lazy to calculate, and so I invented the computer.” The German government used Mr. Zuse’s invention to help in its war efforts during World War II.
Visit the Computer History Museum to see a timeline of the development of the personal computer.
Why Is Silicon Used for Most Computer Chips?
Visit Silicon Valley in California. Today’s computers are all about tiny silicon chips that carry billions of electronic messages.

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People To See

Triumph of the Nerds
This companion site to the PBS documentary helps readers understand how youthful amateurs, hippies and self-proclaimed "nerds" accidentally changed the world with their computer innovations.
UEN's Computer Classes
Free in person and online workshops and training opportunities for Utah educators.
Who Was Charles Babbage?
Charles Babbage was a British inventor and mathematician, as well as a pioneer in the computer science field. He invented the first programmable computer.

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Things To Do

Hobbes' Internet Timeline
Did you realize that the internet has been around since the 1950's? How many internet sites existed in June 1993? How many interent sites existed in March 1999?
How Microprocessors Work
"The microprocessor is the heart of any normal computer, whether it is a desktop machine, a server, or a laptop." From this great site, you can find out not only about microprocessors, but also many other computer parts and functions.

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Teacher Resources

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  • Brown, Marc. Arthur's Computer Disaster. Boston: Little, Brown, 1997.
  • Chambers, Catherine. Computer. Des Plaines, Ill.: Heinemann Interactive Library, c1998.
  • Drake, Jim. Computers All Around Us. Des Plaines, Ill.: Heinemann Library, c1999.
  • Drake, Jim. Computers and Schools. Des Plaines, Ill.: Heinemann Library, c1999.
  • Drake, Jim. What Is a Computer? Des Plaines, Ill.: Heinemann Library, c1999.
  • Kazunas, Charnan. The Internet for Kids. New York: Children's Press, c1997.
  • Kazunas, Charnan. Personal Computers. New York: Children's Press, c1997.
  • Parker, Steve. Computers. Austin, Tex.: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1997.
  • Pedersen, Ted. Internet For Kids!: A Beginner's Guide to Surfing the Net. New York: Price Stern Sloan, c1997.
  • Toby, Edna. What's a Computer? New York: New Traditions Press, c1998