Types of computers

The two basic types of computers are analog and digital. Analog computers simulate physical systems. They operate on the basis of an analogy to the process that is studied. For example, a voltage may be used to represent other physical quantities such as speed, temperature, or pressure. The response of an analog computer is based upon the measurement of signals that vary continuously with time. Analog computers are used in applications that require continuous measurement and control.

Digital computers deal with discrete rather than continuous quantities. They count rather than measure. They use numbers instead of analogous physical quantities to simulate on-going, or real-time processes. Because they are discrete data, commercial transactions are in a natural form for digital computation. This is one reason that digital computers are so widely used in business data processing.

Machines that combine both analog and digital capabilities are called hybrid computers. Many business, scientific and industrial computer applications rely on the combination of analog and digital devices. The use of combination analog devices will continue to increase with the growth in applications of microprocessors and microcomputers. An example of this growth is the trend toward installing control systems in household appliances such as microwave ovens and sewing machines. In the future we will have complete indoor climate control systems and robots to do our housecleaning. Analog sensors will provide inputs to the control centres of these systems, which will be small digital computers.

Answer the following questions:

1. Who designs computers and their accessory equipment? 2. What is the role of an analyst? 3.What functions do computer systems perform? 4. What types of computers do you know? 5.What is the principle of operation of analog computers? 6. How do digital computers differ from analog computers? 7.What are hybrid computers? 8. Where do they find application?

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