How Different People Think a Computer Works

Different people have very different ways of explaining how a computer works. Here are a few of them.

According to Sarah Losmandy, your third grade teacher

A computer is like a TV typewriter. A typewriter is a box with buttons on it. When you push the buttons, it makes letters on the screen. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and so on. This mouse thing is used for pointing. See, if you push the mouse left, the little arrow goes left. If you push the mouse up, the little arrow goes up. That’s what this computer used to do before someone stole the little ball in it. The district will probably fix it sometime next year.

Ted, that guy down the hall who knows things

Well, sir, that’s a good question. You got your motherboard, your daughterboard, your sonboard, and your fatherboard. Now most of you have heard of your motherboard and daughterboard, but the father’n’son boards is what the gubmint uses to keep track of you. They’re really tiny – otherwise these computer geeks’d know more about ’em – but they’re there, all right. They transmit signals to the gubmint, and what’s more, they send signals to your brain. Mainly they make you forget what you just saw, which is why nobody has ever seen ’em. And don’t even get me started on them wireless gizmos. That’s why I wear this ‘luminum foil under my cap, see?

Gerry Sneerly, sales guy at your local computer chain store

Well of course computers use electricity, as you probably know, and this electricity is made out of electric ions – they’re called electrons, which flow in pipes and go left or right as the computer directs them to. If you have a faster processor, you can have more electrons directed more places, and more electrons is good, see? So you need a faster processor, and of course more RAM to store the extra electrons in. Let me call up the price for ya on this terminal.

Arthur Q. Flackman, CEO of the national distribution center of a large retailer

Computers are the main nerve system of our operation. We use them to coordinate inventory, budget, shipping, personnel and overhead expenses. Without computers, our corporation would be virtually helpless. Excuse me, do you see – is there an on-switch on this thing somewhere?

Beverly Quartermain, tech instructor at your local strip mall college

The computer is composed of a CPU, that’s a central processing unit, which does machine-language information handling for the computer. The CPU is connected to the I/O devices through various ports which must be assigned to particular devices by IRQ addresses coordinated by the operating system. The operating system is your Windows, see? The CPU also communicates to spindles and other devices through a bus, which is really just a collection of wires and an information protocol.

Oh, you have a Mac? I don’t think a Mac has a CPU. If it does, it’s really slow. And AppleTalk, well, that’s just about useless. They taught me that in my Microsoft certification class. You should really just get rid of that Mac – donate it or something. I can put together a really hot Pentium machine for you for about 43 cents –a little more if you want a hard drive.

Dean Sanenselmo, Windows user at home

I use my computer to type letters, and sometimes I use it to shop online, but I don’t really like using my credit card number on those Web sites, y’know? I mean, the data is just out there, floating on the Internet somewhere, and someone could just steal it, y’know? I also manage a mailing list for my garden club, but it’s hard typing all those letters over and over – there ought to be a way to get the computer to do that, don’t you think? I called the tech support number, but I didn’t understand what the man said. Something about drivers and updates? I just want to use my computer, y’know? I’d buy more software, but I’m afraid I’d just break the computer. Do you know how to get rid of those emails people send all the time?

Marty Simpson, Mac User

A computer is a tool to get your job done. Do I need to know how a car works in order to drive? Not really. It’s all about the product, baby. Let the gurus worry about the hardware.

Short link: