By computer I mean every electronic device that’s programmable: laptops and desktop computers, smartphones, smartwatches, your car, your dishwasher, your camera and even smaller things like a dog’s GPS device. A lot of things, right? We’re surrounded by computers.
Computers are electronic devices powered by programs. Since the middle of the 19th century, programmers have been working on making those computers always faster, and always easier and more accessible to program.
Machines are dumb. They do what you tell them. They can’t really think or decide things. They can only follow your instructions, and this makes you, a programmer, a very powerful person.
We call the electronic part of a computer hardware, and the programs part software.
When you program a computer, you provide it instructions that are transformed into bits, the only thing that the electronics can understand. A bit can only have two values: 0 and 1.
When you look at your computer or smartphone, you see a nice interface. That’s the result of years of evolution. Underneath, millions of instructions are executed every second, to serve you the list of the best restaurants nearby. All by talking to the Internet, an incredibly vast network of computers - the biggest artificial ecosystem we humans ever built.
Covering how a computer works (and the network of computers) would take us tons of hours. Instead, after this brief overview I’m going to focus on the software part.
We’ll keep the hardware side for another course, in the future!