Characteristics of Computer | What is a Computer, Limitations

Characteristics of Computer

The computer is an electronic device that can do arithmetical calculations quicker. Yet it does even more, as you’ll see later. In this article, you will learn the main characteristics of computer and some of its limitations.

What is a Computer?

A computer is an electronic device that responds to a specific set of instructions systematically and executes a pre-recorded list of instructions known as programs.

It takes in data in the form of input, processes it using a set of instructions, and gives out accurate results in the form of output and finally stores the result in its memory.

All the actual parts of a computer such as a monitor, keyboard, processor which are tangible are known as hardware of a computer.

All the set of instructions known as programs installed on the computer are known as the software of a computer.

Must Read:- Generation of Computers

What are the main characteristics a computer?

Every computer varies depending upon its size and capacity but there are many common features or characteristics due to which the computer performs the input-output processes in an effective way.

They are as follows-

  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Storage
  • Versatility
  • Diligence
  • Automation
  • Reliability
  • Power of Remembering

Let us understand each characteristic in brief:-

  • Speed – Speed of a computer means the time it takes to complete any given task. The computer works at a very lightning speed. For example, a computer takes a second to calculate 3 million calculations rather than a human which takes years. Hence nowadays the speed of the computer is measured in terms of microseconds, Nanoseconds, and even in Pico seconds instead of seconds or milliseconds.
  • Accuracy – The computers are programmed and designed in such a manner that their results are almost 100% accurate. It performs all the tasks with the same accuracy. There are very few chances of uncertainty in results and even though an error occurs, it can happen either due to wrong input data or unreliable programs by a programmer. Such errors are referred to as Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO) which means, if you provide wrong instructions to the computer then you get wrong results.
  • Storage – A human brain keeps only the knowledge which it thinks is important and removes the rest. Whereas a computer can store a huge amount of data in its internal memory known as primary storage and can quickly access the data whenever required. But the internal memory is limited so to store more data secondary storage devices are used such as DVD, Pen drives, etc. They can be carried from one computer to another very easily. Thus sections of total data can be brought to the internal memory of the computer whenever required.  The data in the computer can never elapse and will be always accessible and properly stored in a systematic format. The storage capacity of a computer is measured in Kilobyte (KB), Megabyte (Mb), Gigabyte (GB), and Terabyte (TB).
  • Versatility – Along with being accurate and diligent a computer is also a versatile device. It can perform several types of tasks at a time if they are reduced to a certain set of logical steps. A computer can be used for many purposes at different places such as booking air and rail tickets, weather forecasting, listening to music, and playing games. Also at a time, one can pay his utility bills and can make a monthly budget too. It can prepare documents, data sheets and also can make models of houses, dams, etc.
  • Diligence – The ability of a computer to perform tasks without getting tired is known as diligence. Computers are highly reliable, they do not get fed up, exhausted, or lack concentration. They can work for hours and hours unlike humans and can give accurate or error-free results. For example, humans will start feeling tired after 2 -3 hours and will lack concentration whereas a computer will keep on working until the results are achieved.
  • Automation – Automation means working automatically. A computer can work on its own without the intervention of the person using it. Programs can be made for the computer to perform the task and based on the sequence it executes the tasks and gives accurate results. In case an error occurs, it gives error messages too and registers the logs.
  • Reliability – High reliability of a computer depends on low failure rate and easy maintenance. The results given out by the computer are reliable as the accuracy is almost 100%.
  • Power of Remembering – The computer has the power of storing data or information for several years. It cannot lose the data on its own. A person can retrieve the data whenever required and the data remains the same after a number of years also. It gives the freedom to the user to decide on how much data to store and how much to remove.

Things to Know:- Types of Computer Network

Limitations of a Computer

  • Lack of IQ – A computer is a machine with zero IQ. It does not have any intelligence. For example, if it gives any result, it simply does base on the set of instructions programmed for that. It cannot tell whether those steps were correct or incorrect. So if the program is wrongly done it can give wrong results too. Each and every small task has to be programmed in a computer to get results.
  • Lack of Feeling – Computers do not have feelings and emotions. They cannot make judgments as humans can. Though they have memory but cannot work like human brain works.  Humans can take decisions on feeling hungry and for other daily activities, whereas a computer can work only on the set of instructions fed into it.  They even cannot make a difference between the people using it.
  • Dependency – A computer cannot make its own decisions. It can calculate many equations in a few seconds and give accurate results, but the sequence of equations, steps,etc can be only be programmed by the user and not the computer. The computer cannot work without instructions from the user. Hence it is totally dependent on its user.

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