You have already seen that, to a computer, data is any piece of information or fact
that, taken by itself, may not make sense to a person. For example, you might think
of the letters of the alphabet as data. Taken individually, they do not mean a lot.
But when grouped into words and sentences, they make sense; that is, they become
information (see Fig. 1
). Similarly, basic geometric shapes may not have
much meaning by themselves, but when they are grouped into a blueprint or a
chart, they become useful information.
In particular, the working of any computer system mainly includes the following steps: Accept data by users through input devices, such as mouse, keyboard, scanner, etc. Accepted data is transferred to temporary memory and then sent for processing through a microprocessor (or CPU) as per given instructions.
Instructions tells the computer how to perform tasks. Like data, these instructions exist as strings of numbers so the computer can use them.
But the resemblance
ends there. You can think of the difference between data and programs this way:
data is for people to use, but programs are for computers
Within the computer, data is organized into
A file is simply a set of data that has been
given a name. A file that the user can open and
use is often called a document.
Although many people think of documents simply as text, a
computer document can include many kinds of
For example, a computer document can be a text file (such as a letter), a group of numbers (such as a budget), a video clip (which includes images and sounds), or any combination of these items.
Programs are organized into files as well; these files contain the instructions and
data that a program needs in order to run and perform tasks.