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What Can I Do With This Computer?
Okay, you now have a computer. There it is in front of you, and you're
sitting in front of it, looking at a page on the World Wide Web. You have
learned how to use your computer to browse through the Information Highway which
is the Internet, and to find this and other pages on a bewildering array of
But is this all you want your computer to do? For some people this is enough,
and the computer need do nothing more. However, many people want to do more with
their computers, and more get tired of their original activity and want to turn
to something new. The question is, What? The computer is a general-purpose tool
with many uses, so the primary limits on what it does are set by the choices of
its user -- you.
There are four basic categories of activities that you can pursue with regard
to computers. Each is necessary to all of the others, but different interests
and disciplines are needed in the different categories. By following the links
below you can get further information on each type of computer category. The
four general computer categories are:
- Computer Users
- By far the largest single group of people dealing with computers
consists of those who use them to perform various tasks. These are the
people who will purchase and use commercial programs such as word
processors, spreadsheets, database managers, accounting programs, and many
others. Such programs are packaged and available for sale. They must be
installed on the computer, but then can be called up and run by any user.
- Computer Programmers
- Some people start out wanting to do more with a computer than just running
existing programs. Others are users who find it necessary or desirable to create
a needed application that does not yet exist. And many users want to be able to
automate processes they have to go through regularly. All such activities
require the development of a new program for the computer. Such a program can be
very simple or extremely complex, but it always has several elements in common
with all other programs.
- Computer Technicians and Service People
- Computers are machines, and any machine can break. Therefore, there will be
a need for people to repair them. In addition, it is a common requirement to
upgrade a computer. This may involve adding more memory, installing a new
interface card, installing a better processor, or something else. A computer
service technician needs to know something of the inner workings of the
computer, and often needs to know a certain amount of electronics as well. The
more such a technician wants to do, the more electronics and digital logic he or
she needs to know.
- Computer Designers
- At the top of the list of those requiring technical skills and knowledge we
have the relatively small number of people who actually design new computers and
their primary components. These are the people who actually design new and ever
more powerful processors, video display components, general and specialized
chipsets, and even whole computer systems. Anyone seeking to design computers or
computer systems will need an extensive knowledge of electronics, digital logic,
semiconductor physics, and a number of related subjects.