Introduction to Computers an Number System | Information Technology Practices in Business Notes | B.Com (CBCS and Non CBCS)

Introduction to Computer and Number System

Information Technology Practices in Business

B.Com (CBCS and Non CBCS)

Unit – 3: Introduction to Computer and Number System

Meaning of Computer and Digital Computer

The term ‘computer’ usually refers to an electronic device made of electronic circuits which processes data into meaningful information under the control of specific step-by-step instruction arranged as a program. It performs many functions such as calculation, storage, manipulation & retrieval of information.

Digital Computer: Digital computer is the most commonly used type of computers. A computer that performs calculations and logical operations with quantities represented as digit, usually in the binary number system. It is used for processing data represented by discrete, localized physical signals, as the presence or absence of electric current. In other words, the machine which operates on data, symbols etc. that are expressed in machine language means in 0 or 1 form are called digital computers. In today’s world, Apple Macintosh is the best example of digital computer.

The main three components of digital computer are,

1.       Input: The user gives a set of input data.

2.       Processing: The input data is processed by well defined and finite sequence of steps.

3.       Output: Some data available from the processing step are output to the user.

The key characteristics (or advantages) of a computer are:

1.       Speed: The speed of a computer is usually measured in milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds and picoseconds which are , , and part of a second respectively.

2.       Accuracy: Errors do occur in computer based information systems but precious few can be directly attributed to the computer system itself. The vast majority can be traced to a program which is mainly human errors.

3.       Capacity of Decision Making: By suitable programming, computers can also perform intelligent functions of decision making.

4.       Reliability: The system does repetitive work with huge volumes of data correctly. One can rely on them to work non-stop, keeping a back up of data and also an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS).

5.       Memory Capability: Computer systems have total instant recall of data and an almost unlimited capacity to store these data. A computer system can hold billion characters at a time can be retrieved at random.

Advantages of Computer System:

a. Speed: The smallest unit of time that a human being can experience is second. But Computer operations are measured in milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds and picoseconds. Today computers can perform more than 2500 MIPS. They can handle very complex tasks in seconds.

b. Accuracy: Errors occur in computers also but only few errors can be attributed (=credited) to a computer. In most of the cases errors occur due to program logic error, procedural error or erroneous data. Really speaking, these are human errors.

c. Reliability: Computers can perform repetitive tasks very well. They don’t take sick days and coffee breaks and they rarely make any complaints. Even the error rate of 0.1% is unacceptable.

d. Memory capability: Computer systems can instantly recall the data and their storage capacity is almost unlimited. Today, even ordinary personal computers are coming with 10 to 40 GB of memory. High end computers can support still more memory.

e. Flexibility: Modern digital computers can be used for a variety of purposes and everything depends on the program inside the computer.

f. Choice of configuration: A wide range of optional peripherals are available in the market. A business organisation can select those peripherals which are most suitable for its processing requirements.

Limitations of computer system

The limitations of compute are as follows:

1)      GIGO: Garbage in Garbage Out i.e. computer does not have its own IQ and an incorrect input data would result in an incorrect output. The computer does what it is programmed to do and can do nothing else.

2)      Limitations of Software: To perform specialized functions, special software is required. The investment in software is much more than in hardware.

3)      Tampering of Data: Data handling through computers require special protection routines.

4)      Limitations of Hardware: Smaller computers can perform relatively limited work at a slower speed. So more investments is to be required for higher speed computers.

Components of a Computer System















2                                              CPU












Control Unit




















Secondary Storage (disk)

Components of Computer System




1. Input                                2. CPU (Central Processing Unit)                                               3. Output                             4. Storage


                                2. (a) Control Unit                            2. (b) A.L.U                                         4. (a) Primary     4. (b) Secondary

1.       Input:

a)      Entry of program statement & data into a computer is done by means of an input device.

b)      Keyboard, floppy, disk drives, cartridge tape device are the various input devices.

c)       All input devices are instruments of interpretation and communication between people and computer.

2.       CPU:

a)      Is the heart of the computer?

b)      It contains the logic that controls the calculation doe by the computer.

c)       It is the central processor that makes comparisons, performs calculations, reads, interprets & controls the execution of the instructions.

d)      The CPU consists of two separate sub-units –

                     i.            Control unit

                   ii.            Arithmetic logic unit.

In the PC, the CPU is connected to a bus; the bus is a communication device or in other words a connection between various parts of the computer.

1)      Control Unit:

a)      Supervises the operations of entire computer,

b)      Acts as a Central Nervous System by maintaining the order & directing the flow of sequence of operation & data within the computer,

c)       It selects the program statement from the storage unit, interprets the statement & sends the appropriate electronic impulses to Arithmetic/Logic and storage units which carries out the required operation.

d)      Its basic function is to instruct the input device, when to start & stop transferring data to output devices.

2)      ALU:

a)      Performs calculation, compares numeric & Non-numeric values & make decisions.

b)      Data is transferred from the storage unit to ALU which is again manipulated & returned to storage unit.

3.       Output Devices:

a)      Are instruments that communicate between users & machine?

b)      Meant for presenting results.

c)       Translates computer output in user understandable form.

d)      Printer, VDU, Graph-Plotters are the output devices.

e)      Captures information in machine coded form & converts them into a form usable by humans computers.

4.       Storage:

a)      Primary:

Ø  Has no logic capability and is one a storage unit for data and instruction.

Ø  It is passive in nature. Memory is only a storage place for information. Instructions are executed in CPU. Data are moved between the CPU and memory when a calculation is performed.

b)      Secondary: (Diskette drive, disk etc.)

Ø  Are machines & are connected online to CPU and serve as reference libraries?

Ø  Used as a store house & used only when necessary.

Ø  Magnetic tapes, Floppy, H.D. CDS etc. are the devices.

Ø  Usually larger and cheaper than Primary.

Computer Generations

The computers have been grouped into chronological categories, called generations. Computer generation means a step of advancement in technology. It also reflects the growth of computer industry. The advancement in technology existed not only in hardware but also in software. The evolution of modern computer is divided in different generations as below:

1. First Generation: The first generation of computers was developed in late 1940s. In this generation of computers, vacuum tubes were used and these were bulky in size. These computers were very expensive to operate and in addition to using a great deal of electricity, the first computers generated a lot of heat, which was often the cause of malfunctions.

First generation computers relied on machine language, the lowest-level programming language understood by computers, to perform operations, and they could only solve one problem at a time. It would take operators days or even weeks to set-up a new problem. Input was based on punched cards and paper tape, and output was displayed on printouts.

2. Second Generation: In the generation of computers, solid state devices called transistors, diodes etc. were developed by William Shockley and colleagues at Bell laboratories. These solid state devices were used in place of vacuum tubes. This replacement increased the speed of computers and other drawbacks were reduced. Second generation computers were smaller in size, cheaper in manufacturing. These computers occupied lesser space and consumed lesser power.

3. Third Generation: These computers have secondary storage devices and new input and output devices like visual display terminals, magnetic ink readers and high speed printers, integrated solid state circuit (IC chips). I.C. chips increased the speed of these computers. These computers performed the arithmetic and logic operations in micro- seconds (Millionths of a second) or even in nano-second (Billionths of a second). The size and cost of these computers have decreased considerably.

4. Fourth Generation: Integrated Circuits Technology was further developed. In 1971, INTEL Corp. of USA developed the IC chips which have the entire computer circuit on a single silicon chip. These chips are called microprocessors. These microprocessors gave birth to micro-computers called micro-processors. In 1976, Steve Wozniak developed a series of micro-computers called .The Allple Series.. These computers were the most modern computers. These were much cheaper relative to performance in comparison to early computers.

5. Fifth Generation: Fifth generation computers are those computers, which not only have the advanced capabilities like speed, accuracy, storage and retrieval capabilities of other computers but have also additional ability to think and make decisions. The ability of intelligence in computers is called Artificial Intelligence (AI). Japanese have named this generation of computers as KIPS (Knowledge Information on Processing System).

Different Types of Computers

Since the advent of the first computer different types and sizes of computers are offering different services. Computers can be as big as occupying a large building and as small as a laptop or a microcontroller in mobile & embedded systems. The four basic types of computers are as under:

a)      Supercomputer

b)      Mainframe Computer

c)       Minicomputer

d)      Microcomputer

a)      Supercomputer: The most powerful computers in terms of performance and data processing are the Supercomputers. These are specialized and task specific computers used by large organizations. These computers are used for research and exploration purposes, like NASA uses supercomputers for launching space shuttles, controlling them and for space exploration purpose.

b)      Mainframe computer: Although Mainframes are not as powerful as supercomputers, but certainly they are quite expensive nonetheless, and many large firms & government organizations uses Mainframes to run their business operations. The Mainframe computers can be accommodated in large air-conditioned rooms because of its size. Super-computers are the fastest computers with large data storage capacity, Mainframes can also process & store large amount of data. Banks educational institutions & insurance companies use mainframe computers to store data about their customers, students & insurance policy holders.

c)       Minicomputer: Minicomputers are used by small businesses & firms. Minicomputers are also called as “Midrange Computers”. These are small machines and can be accommodated on a disk with not as processing and data storage capabilities as super-computers & MainframesThese computers are not designed for a single user. Individual departments of a large company or organizations use Mini-computers for specific purposes. For example, a production department can use Mini-computers for monitoring certain production process.

d)      Microcomputer: Desktop computers, laptops, personal digital assistant (PDA), tablets & smartphones are all types of microcomputers. The micro-computers are widely used & the fastest growing computers. These computers are the cheapest among the other three types of computers. The Micro-computers are specially designed for general usage like entertainment, education and work purposes. Well known manufacturers of Micro-computer are Dell, Apple, Samsung, Sony & Toshiba.

Desktop computers, Gaming consoles, Sound & Navigation system of a car, Netbooks, Notebooks, PDA’s, Tablet PC’s, Smartphones, Calculators are all type of Microcomputers.

Types of memory in a Computer

1) Primary memory

2) Secondary memory

1) Primary memory: It is directly accessible by the CPU. The primary memory is of two types such as

a) ROM memory

b) Read only memory

2) Secondary memory: The maximum capacity of primary memory is limited. So to handle more data than allowed by primary memory, secondary memory is used. And it is non-volatile i.e. data is not lost due to current failure. Magnetic tape, Floppy disk and Hard disk are some examples of secondary memory.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

The memory system constructed with metal oxide semi conductor storage elements that can be changed is called Random Access Memory. It is used to hold intermediary data in the computer. The contents of this memory chips are temporary and can be easily changed. It is the workspace for the computer’s processor. When people talk about computer memory, they usually mean volatile memory. It is called random access memory because access time in RAM is independent of the address of the data. Each storage location (address) inside the memory is as easy to reach as any other location and takes the same amount of time. One can reach into the memory at random and insert or remove numbers in any location at anytime.

Types of RAM:

a. Dynamic RAM: It is the most common type of main memory. It is dynamic because each memory cell quickly loses its charge. So it must be refreshed for hundreds of times each second. In olden days refreshing was done by Microprocessor. Due to this, lot of processing power was wasted. But today’s dynamic RAM is coming with built in refresh circuits. This saves lot of processing power.

b. Static RAM: Static RAM (SRAM) is like DRAM but it is faster, larger and more expensive. It is static because it is not required to refresh the contents of RAM continuously. Because of its speed, SRAM is mainly used in special area of memory called cache memory.

Read Only Memory (ROM)

Another type of computer memory is Read-Only-Memory (ROM). It is used for storing micro programs, not available to normal programmers. The information is permanently stored during manufacturing. The information from the memory can be read but fresh information cannot be written. Generally ROM is used to store instructions that are frequently needed, for executing small, extremely basic operations, which will not be available in the computer’s circuitry.

Different kinds of ROM:

a. PROM: Programmable Read Only Memory is a non-volatile memory which allows the user to program the chip with a PROM writer. User can record any data or instructions. The only problem with PROM chips is that once data is recorded on them, it cannot be changed.

b. EPROM: EPROM stands for Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. EPROM chips can be electrically programmed. Unlike ROM and PROM chips, EPROM chips can be erased and reprogrammed. With the help of ultraviolet light, the data or instructions on an EPROM chip can be erased and new data can be recorded in its place.

c. EEPROM: It stands for Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory. This is the latest addition to the ROM family of chips. For the purpose of reprogramming, they need not be removed from the machine. Changes can be made electrically, under the control of a software.

Software and its Types

Meaning: A set of instructions (in machine code) given to the computer to solve user problems and to control different operations of the computer is known as computer software. The software is developed in programming languages. The Computer software is classified into two main categories:

1. Application software.

2. System software.

1. Application Software: Application Software is the specific that can do specified application. Application Software is designed to fulfill the requirement to people. Application Software enables a computer to perform a specific task such as handling financial accounting, processing words, preparing exam result, producing bills, manipulating images and videos, etc. Application Software does its tasks with the help of operating system. There are two types of Application Software. They are:

a. Packaged Software

b. Customized or Tailored Software 

a. Packaged Software: Packaged Software is the ready made software developed for all general users to perform their generalized tasks. Software companies use to develop packaged software. Some commonly used packages are given below:

Word Processing Software: used for creating documents. Examples: MS-Word, Aldus PageMaker, Word Perfect, etc.

Electronic Spreadsheet Software: used for keeping accounts and do calculations. Examples: MS-Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, etc

Database Management System Software: used for database management. Examples: MS-Access, Dbase, FoxPro, Sybase, SQL Server, Oracle, etc.

Graphics Software: used for creating and manipulating images. Examples: CorelDraw, Paintbrush, PhotoShop etc.

Multimedia Software: used for designing multimedia. Examples: 3D Max, Maya, Flash, PowerPoint, Windows Media Player, etc.

b. Customized or Tailored Software: Customized or Tailored Software is the application software which is designed to fulfill the specific requirements of an organization, office or individual. Customized or Tailored Software is used for the organization, office or person for whom it is developed. SLC Result Processing Software, Hospital Management Software, School Management Software, Bill Processing Software, Air Ticket Reservation Software, Banking software etc. customized software. Reservation software, Banking software etc. are customized software.

2. System Software: System software is a set of programs that control the operations of a computer and devices attached with the computer. It creates links between user and computer as well as controls the execution of application programs. The examples of system software are:

a) Operating systems.

b) Sub-routine

c) Device Drivers.

d) Assemblers and compilers.

e) Utility Software

a)      Operating Systems: Operating Systems optimize man-machine capabilities i.e., the human intervention is minimized. Operating systems work in multi-programming mode. Multi-programming means interleaved execution of several programs to enhance the productivity of the computer. The scheduling for execution of these programs in parts is handled by a special program known as the supervisory program.

b)      Diagnostic routines are supplied by the computer manufactures. They assist in debugging the programs by providing a printout of the contents of the memory upon execution of each instruction sequentially.

c)       Assemblers / Compilers: These are translation programs written and supplied by the computer manufacturers and are used to translate a program written in the source language into the machine language of the computer on hand.

d)      Sub-routine: A sub-routine is a section of a main program which is incorporated into the latter, as required to perform a series of basic instruction. Subroutines are called in from the backing storage when necessary unless incorporated during program assembly or compilation. Sub-routines consist of instructions to perform tasks which are common to many different applications or appear repetitively in the same program and their inclusion avoids the necessity of writing them and debugging them specially for each application.

e)      Utility Software: Utility Software is the helpful software that performs specific tasks related to the maintenance of computer hardware and data. Utility Software helps to keep a computer in the smooth functioning condition. Utility Software provides facilities for performing tasks like transferring data and file, recovering lost data and file, searching and removing computer viruses, disk management etc. PC Tools, Download Accelerator (DAP), SplitFile, Anti Viruses, WinZip, WinRaR, Defrag, Norton Disk Doctor (NDD), Register Cleaner, History Cleaner, Backup Software, Disk tools etc. are some examples of Utility Software.

1.       Antivirus software helps to protect a computer system from viruses and other harmful programs. A computer virus is a computer program that can cause damage to a computer's software, hardware or data. It is referred to as a virus because it has the capability to replicate itself and hide inside other computer files.

2.       Backup software helps in the creation of a backup of the files on your computer. Most computer systems use a hard disk drive for storage. While these are generally very robust, they can fail or crash, resulting in costly data loss. Backup software helps you copy the most important files to another storage device, such as an external hard disk.

3.       Disk tools include a range of different tools to manage hard disk drives and other storage devices. This includes utilities to scan the hard disks for any potential problems, disk cleaners to remove any unnecessary files, and disk defragmenters to re-organize file fragments on a hard disk drive to increase performance. Disk tools are important because a failure of a hard disk drive can have disastrous consequences. Keeping disks running efficiently is an important part of overall computer maintenance.


Hardware is best described as a device, such as a hard drive, that is physically connected to the computer or something that can be physically touched. A CD-ROM, computer display monitor, printer, and video card are all examples of computer hardware. Without any hardware, a computer would not function, and software would have nothing to run on. Hardware and software interact with one another: software tells hardware which tasks it needs to perform.

Types of Hardware:

Input devices – keyboard, image scanner, microphone, pointing device, graphics tablet, joystick, light pen, mouse, touchpad, touchscreen, trackball,  webcam

Output devices – monitor, printer, speakers

Removable data storage - optical disc drive (CD-RW, DVD+RW), floppy disk, memory card, USB flash drive

Computer case - central processing unit (CPU), hard disk, motherboard, network interface controller, power supply, random-access memory (RAM), sound card, video card

Data ports - Ethernet firewire, parallel port, serial port, universal serial bus (USB)

There are several differences between computer hardware and software.

Operating system and Its types

An operating system (OS) is software, consisting of programs and data that runs on computers and manages computer hardware resources and provides common services for efficient execution of various application software.

Types of operating systems:

1)      Real-time Operating System: It is a multitasking operating system that aims at executing real-time applications. The main object of real-time operating systems is their quick and predictable response to events.

2)      Multi-user and Single-user Operating Systems: The operating systems of this type allow a multiple users to access a computer system concurrently. Time-sharing system can be classified as multi-user systems as they enable a multiple user access to a computer through the sharing of time. Single-user operating systems, as opposed to a multi-user operating system, are usable by a single user at a time.

3)      Multi-tasking and Single-tasking Operating Systems: When a single program is allowed to run at a time, the system is grouped under a single-tasking system, while in case the operating system allows the execution of multiple tasks at one time, it is classified as a multi-tasking operating system.

4)      Distributed Operating System: An operating system that manages a group of independent computers and makes them appear to be a single computer is known as a distributed operating system. The development of networked computers that could be linked and communicate with each other, gave rise to distributed computing.

5)      Embedded System: The operating systems designed for being used in embedded computer systems are known as embedded operating systems. They are designed to operate on small machines like PDAs with less autonomy.

Functions of Operating System: Some of the facilities offered by operating system are described below:

1)      It communicates with the computer operator by means of the console unit or typewriter.

2)      In control the flow of jobs by loading and unloading of programs.

3)      It supervises multi-programming operation including :

a)      Managing assembly /compilation and execution of programs.

b)      Allocating control to each program according to its priority and the operating state of peripheral.

c)       Protecting each program’s working storage from over-writing by another program.

4)      It undertake errors diagnosis and recovery techniques in case of error conditions.

5)      It allocates peripherals to programs and checks their availability.

6)      It warns the operator when peripheral units require alteration.

7)      It forms an essential element of real-time system.

8)      It automates the logging of time-relating to computer operations.

a)      Word Processing.

b)      Firmware.

Meaning of Data and Information

Data: The word “data’ (plural of “datum”) is used generally both in singular and plural form. Data includes raw materials or facts or observation about business transactions or physical phenomena that are processed into finished information products. It is, thus, an objective measurement of attributes of entities, viz. people, places, things and events. It constitutes a valuable organizational resource which must be managed efficiently, so that all end users in an organization are benefitted. Data may be in any of following forms:

a)      Traditional alphanumeric data: It is composed of numbers, alphabets and other characters.

b)      Text data: It consists of sentences and paragraphs.

c)       Image data: It consists of graphic shapes and figures.

d)      Audio data: It consists of human voice and other sounds.

e)      Video data: It consists of visual image and figures.

Data are needed to supply required information. Data are treated as raw materials to furnish finished products in the form of information. Data are viewed by manager and information systems professionals as data resources which are typically organized into:

a)      Data bases to hold processed and organized data.

b)      Knowledge bases to hold knowledge in various forms.

Information: Information refers to the data that have been put into a meaningful and useful context for specific end users. In the words of Davis and Olson, “Information is data that has been processed into a form that is meaningful to the recipient and is of real or perceived value in current or progressive decision.” Information are basic resource and substance on which business decisions are based. The need for information arises on account of:

a)      Survival of business: Information is needed for survival of a business.

b)      Basis for decisions: It is the substance on which business decisions are based.

c)       Framework for information system: It provides framework for information system in an organization.

d)      Basis for various system: It is the finished product which provides basis for various system in an organization.

Difference between Data and Information





Data are raw facts or observations or assumptions or occurrence about physical phenomenon or business transaction.

It is the data that has been converted into a meaningful and useful context for specific end users.


They are objective measurement of attributes (characteristics) of entities (like people, place, things, and events)

To obtain information data’s form is aggregated, manipulated and organized, its content analyzed & evaluated & placed in proper context for human use.


Data is a collection of facts, which is unorganized but can be organized into useful information.

Information exists as reports, in a systematic textual format, or as graphics in an organized manner.


Data should be accurate but need not be relevant, timely or concise.

Information must be relevant, timely accurate, concise and complete and should apply to the current situation.

Forms to exist

It can exist in different forms e.g. picture, text, sound, or all of these together.

It should be condensed into usable length.



The knowledge of number systems is very essential because the design and organization of a computer is dependent upon the number systems. The various number systems discussed are:

1.       Decimal Number System.

2.       Binary Number System.

3.       Octal Number System.

4.       Hexadecimal Number System.

1.       Decimal Number System: The decimal number system consists of 10 digits namely 0 to 9. In decimal system each digit has a digit value from 0 to 9. Each digit also has a positional value determined by how many places to the left or the right of the decimal point the digit is written. Digit value and positional value for each number system depend on the base of the number system. Positional values are in increasing powers of the base as we move left and decreasing powers of the base as we move right.

2.       Binary Number System: Binary numbers play a very important role in design, organization and understanding of computers. The binary number system, as the name suggests, consists of two digits namely, 0 and 1 and is exactly like the decimal system except that the base is 2 instead of 10. Again this code is used only for mathematical applications and is not intended to handle alphabetic data. Since the binary system only uses two symbols (1, 0), it called a base-two system. This means that starting from the low-order position (right-most), successive positions represent successively higher powers of the base two as we move to the left (or higher-order position). the reasons why binary numbers are used for computers are as under:

Ø  Computer circuits have to handle only two binary digits rather than 10. This simplifies design, reduces cost and improves reliability.

Ø  Electronic components by their very nature operate in a binary mode. A switch is either (1) or off (0), or again, a transistor is either conducting (1) or non-conducting (0).

Ø  Every thing that can be done with the base of 10 can equally be done when the base is 2.

Significance of Binary System

Computers work on binary system whereas decimal number system is accepted as the international system. English is taken as the international contact language. On the other hand, computers understand only binary language i.e. the language of 0 and 1. In order to talk to computers one has to convert the information, numeric or non-numeric, into binary language. This is precisely known as Coding. Coding is the process of representation of numeric or non-numeric information in terms of binary digits. The process of conversion of numeric quantities into their binary equivalents has been discussed earlier. By using different bit patterns the non-numeric information, such as letters of English alphabet A – Z can be represented. For example, the letter A is represented by the bit pattern, 110001 and similarly an equal (=) sign is represented as 001011. There are various codes to represent the data. A few of these are Binary BCD, ASCII or EBCDIC etc. The details of these codes are discussed below. Coding the computers is done to achieve the following objectives.

1)      To convert numeric and alphanumeric information in terms of binary digits 0 and 1.

2)      To transmit correct data to the computer and also to detect and correct errors, if any, in transmission of data.

3.       Octal Number System: Since binary numbers are long and cumbersome, more convenient representations combine groups of three or four bits into octal (base 8) digits respectively. In octal number, there are only eight possible digits (0 to 7). The position of a digit to the left of the octal point carries a Weightage in ascending powers of eight. Digits behind the octal points are also used (octal points are similar to decimal and binary points are used to separate whole and fractional parts) and carry Weightage of . This system is more popular with microprocessors because the number represented in octal system can be used directly for input and output operations.

4.       Hexadecimal Number System: The hexadecimal number system popularly known as Hex system is similar to octal system with the exception that the base is 16 and three must be 16 digits. This system is very well suited for big computers such as belonging to IBM (International Business Machines) series or Honeywell etc. The most commonly used microprocessors having CPU chips as INTEL, 8085 prefer this number system. The hexadecimal number system represents information in the concise form. The sixteen symbols used in this system are, decimal digits 0 to 9 and alphabets A to F. The equivalence between hex-numbers, (numbers represented in Hexadecimal system) binary and decimal numbers as given below:

Decimal Value

Hexa Digits

Binary Equivalent

Decimal Value

Hexa Digit

Binary Equivalent



















































Computers work on binary system whereas decimal number system is accepted as the international system. English is taken as the international contact language. On the other hand, computers understand only binary language i.e. the language of 0 and 1. In order to talk to computers one has to convert the information, numeric or non-numeric, into binary language. This is precisely known as Coding. Coding is the process of representation of numeric or non-numeric information in terms of binary digits. The process of conversion of numeric quantities into their binary equivalents has been discussed earlier. By using different bit patterns the non-numeric information, such as letters of English alphabet A – Z can be represented. For example, the letter A is represented by the bit pattern, 110001 and similarly an equal (=) sign is represented as 001011. There are various codes to represent the data. A few of these are Binary BCD, ASCII or EBCDIC etc. The details of these codes are discussed below. Coding the computers is done to achieve the following objectives.

3)      To convert numeric and alphanumeric information in terms of binary digits 0 and 1.

4)      To transmit correct data to the computer and also to detect and correct errors, if any, in transmission of data.

Binary Coded Decimal System (BCD)

BCD stands for Binary Coded Decimal. For representing decimal number to binary, BCD codes are used. The appropriate 4 – bit code replaces decimal number in BCD codes. If in a binary code, number carries certain weight, it is known as weighted binary code. Nibble refers to a string of 4 bits. By BCD, we mean that each decimal digit is represented by a nibble. The most leading BCD code is 8421 code, which indicates weight of 4 bits. Although 4 bits can represent 16 numbers (24), only 10 are used and rest 6 are invalid.

The uses or advantages of BCD code are:

Ø  For representing decimal number to binary, BCD codes are used.

Ø  BCD code finds its use in pocket calculator, digital clock, etc.

Ø  BCD codes were used in early version of computer.

The disadvantages of BCD code are:

Ø  BCD code is slower than binary system.

Ø  BCD code is more complicated than binary system.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)

The computers had started using 8 bits or 1 byte as the standard unit of storage. By using 6 bits, 2 were not being utilized and their capacity was being wasted. The computer manufactures, together, developed a 7 bit code and submitted it to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to be issued as a standard code. This ANSI issued the standard code and decried that every manufacturer shall have to implement this code on their system.

ASCII being a 7 bit code offered 128 different combinations. It had 52 binary values for alphabets, both uppercase and lowercase 10 for numerals, and 66 for special characters. It was a big improvement over the BCD code and is still being implemented on all the computer systems.

These systems have their drawbacks too. Numbers when transmitted use their ASCII values for the same, which are quite different from their numeric values. Thus, whenever arithmetic operations have to performed, the numbers have to be converted to their actual numeric values. The process of conversion is quite slow when using these codes. To eliminate this problem, IBM developed a code which assigned hexadecimal values and was very fast in arithmetic operations.

EBCDIC Code: (pronounced as eb-si-dic) is an eight bit code, known as Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code and is widely used. An 8 – bit code permits 256 unique codes , which is more than enough for our twenty-six alphabetic characters, ten decimal digits, and commonly used special symbols. Since this code can be used to handle all types of data (numeric, alphabetic, and special symbols), it is invariably used for business data processing by all types of computers mainframe as well as mini computers.

Electronic Data Processing

Data processing means transformation of data into more meaningful results for carrying out scientific, business activities. The result of data processing is called “information”. The transformation of data consist of a sequence of operations. The sequence is called “procedure”.

Input -> Processing -> Output

Data processing is a system which takes data as an input, carries out the required processing on the data and produces the information. The system is called “MANUAL” when processing is performed by human beings and “AUTOMATIC” when machines are used. When computers are used for data processing the system is called “Electronic Data Processing”.

Elements of EDP

There are five basic elements in a processing system which uses a computer for processing data. These are hardware, software, user program, procedure and personnels.

1. HARDWARE: All the physical parts which makes up a computer system called hardware i.e. all the devices or peripherals which performs the data processing operations.

2. SOFTWARE: Software consists of programs and routines whose purpose is to make the computer useable for the user. These software normally supplied by computer manufacturers or software manufacturers.

3. USER PROGRAM: A program consist of a related instructions to perform operations. A data processing job may require a number of programs.

4. PROCEDURE: The operations of data processing system requires procedure for use, in preparing data, for operating the computer and distributing the output after processing.

5. PERSONNELS: E.D.P basically needs three kinds of skilled personnels.

a) System Analyst

b) Progammer

c) Operator

a) SYSTEM ANALYST: System Analyst studies information needs and data processing requirements, design a data processing system and prepare specification.

b) PROGRAMMER: A Programmer writes a programmer on specification by System Analyst.

c) OPERATOR: An Operator is a person who operates the computer system.