The second most important component of a computer after the processor is memory. The amount and type of memory inside your computer affects how fast your computer performs and the numbers of software programs and documents you can store and use.
Computer memory can be divided into two categories: short term and long term. Long term memory includes things like hard disks, floppy disks, CDs and DVDs. These devices dont require electricity to store information. Therefore, they can store information for long periods of time, even when the computer is turned off. RAM can only store information when the computer is turned on because it needs electricity.
A computer uses these two types of memory for different purposes. Long term memory can permanently store computer programs and documents. The only problem with this type of storage is that it takes a relatively long time for processors to access information stored this way. On the other hand, they can access information stored in RAM very quickly. When you decide to do something on your computer, the processor temporarily copies information it needs from long term memory to RAM. It places a copy of the program you are using and the document you are working on in RAM where it can quickly access them. When you close a document, the copy in RAM is erased. If you havent saved a copy of it in long term memory the document is lost. When you exit a program the copy of the program in RAM is also removed. The number of active programs and documents you can use at the same time depends on the amount of RAM in your computer.
Every computer must have a hard disk to store programs and documents. People who work with programs and documents that contain multimedia will want more hard disk space. Heres how much memory PCWorld.com recommends for our three different computer users.
The remaining long term storage devices are removable storage. Floppy disks are on their way out but they arent extinct yet. Your new computer will probably still have a floppy disk drive. CDs are becoming the removable storage medium of choice. Most new computers come with CD drives that allow you to burn or store information on CDs. These drives are called CD-RW (rewritable) drives. The old drives were CD-ROM (read only memory). Similarly DVD-ROM drives allow you to play movies on DVDs and writable DVD drives allow you to create DVDs.
In the next issue we will continue to discuss issues around multimedia. Look for information about monitors, video and sound components of a computer.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY BEST PRACTICES CONFERENCE
Assistive Technology Application and Integration - Nova Scotia (ATAINS) is hosting a 3-day conference that will explore best practices in assistive technology. The conference will be held at Nova Scotia Community College in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia on April 3 - 5, 2003. For more information visit http://atains.ednet.ns.ca or call 902-543-4702.
|Back||Table of Contents||Next Page|