What is a computer system?

A computer system is a basic or functional computer or computer, which includes all the hardware and software necessary to be functional for a user. It is the system in charge of collecting data, processing them and transmitting the information once processed. Later we will see how you perform each of these 3 tasks.

We remember:

– Hardware: physical part of the computer. Set of boards, integrated circuits, chips, cables, printers, monitors, etc. (what we can touch)

– The Software: they are the programs, that is to say the instructions to communicate with the computer and that make their use possible (we cannot touch it). If you want to delve deeper into the software and hardware, we recommend you click on the links above.

Any Computer System must have the ability to receive information from the user (enter data), process the data and with the processed data, create information for storage and / or for its output.

Computer systems generally include a computer or computer, a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse and other optional components called peripherals. All these components can also be integrated into all-in-one units, as in laptops.

Other elements that do not belong properly to the computer, but if they are part of the Computer System since they are essential for its operation, are the so-called peripherals.

Peripherals are external elements to the computer itself, so they are called peripherals (they are on the periphery of the computer). Some of the best known peripherals are, for example, the keyboard or the mouse to put information in the computer or the printer to get the information from the computer on written paper. They are so essential today that they are already considered part of the computer itself. There are 3 types of peripherals according to their use, input, output and input / output. More about the peripherals here: Peripherals.

Frequently, the terms “computer”, “computer” and “computer system” are used interchangeably, especially when peripheral devices are integrated into the same unit as the computer or when a system is sold and installed as a package.

In a computer system, data is entered through the input peripherals (for example the keyboard), data is extracted or extracted through the output peripherals (for example the monitor) and there are also input / output peripherals, which serve to insert and remove data on the computer (for example a router).

We are missing an important part of the computer system …. Who processes the data the system? The answer is simple “The Microprocessor” or CPU. What the micro does is to collect the input data that arrives, organize them, store them already organized, and once you can transform them to serve as output data to the output peripherals.

A very simple example, imagine that we want to make the sum of 2 plus 3 with the computer system. First we put 2, +, 3, in the system, now the micro stores and organizes on the one hand the numbers (2 and 3) and on the other the symbols (+). When it is free, it will use a computer program (instructions) with which it will perform the 2 + 3 operation. The program it uses tells it that the output is 5. It stores it so that when it is required by an output peripheral it is sent.

Note that for the processing to take place, there is a need for a set of instructions on what to do. This set of instructions is what is called a program. The good thing about this type of computer system is that it is flexible, since the machine performs a different task simply by loading a different storage program.

Today, most computer systems are “open”, which means they are compatible with the hardware and software of different manufacturers.

In the past, all components of a computer system were from the same manufacturer. There were no standards for the entire industry. As a result, printers, monitors and other peripheral equipment of one manufacturer did not work if they were used with another manufacturer’s computer. The software could only run on the brand of the specific computer for which it was designed.

Today, however, with “open systems”, several teams from different manufacturers can be combined. Open systems are especially popular among small business owners because they allow companies to update or expand their computer systems more easily and economically.

Finally, say that the term “computer system” may also refer to a hardware and software configuration designed for a specific purpose, such as a manufacturing control system, a library automation system or an accounting system. Or it can refer to a network of multiple computers connected to each other so they can share software, data and peripheral equipment.

History and Evolution of Operating Systems

The first computers did not have operating systems. Each program that was running on these first computers had to include all the code needed to run on the computer, communicate with the connected hardware and perform the calculation that the program was intended to perform. This situation made even the simplest programs become very complex.

In response to this problem, the owners of the central computers began to develop system software that facilitated the writing and execution of the programs included in the computer, and thus the first operating systems were born.

The first operating system was created by General Motors in 1956 to run a single IBM central computer. In the 1960s, IBM was the first computer manufacturer to take on the task of developing operating systems and began distributing operating systems included in its computers.

The first operating systems were developed in the 1950s, when computers could only run one program at a time. Later in the following decades, computers began to include more and more software programs, sometimes called libraries, that came together to create the start of today’s operating systems.

In the late 1960s, the first version of the Unix operating system was developed. Written in programming language C, and available for free during its early years. Unix easily adapted to the new systems and quickly achieved wide acceptance.

Many modern operating systems, including Apple OS X and all different versions of Linux, date back or rely on the Unix OS.

Microsoft Windows was developed in response to an IBM request for an operating system to run its range of personal computers or PCs.

The first operating system created by Microsoft was not called Windows, it was called MS-DOS and it was built in 1981 when it bought the 86-DOS operating system from Seattle Computer Products and modified it to meet IBM requirements.

The Windows name was first used in 1985 when a graphical user interface was created and paired or joined with the MS-DOS.

Today Apple, OS X, Microsoft Windows and the various forms of Linux (including Android) dominate the vast majority of the modern operating systems market, as we saw earlier.

Video Operating Systems

Here is a video that explains very well everything about operating systems in a very simple way and which OS to choose. Once you have studied the operating system, we recommend you do the following exercise in the form of a Test: Test Operating Systems.

Most software programs are designed to work with the operating system of a single company, for example only Windows (Microsoft) or only macOS (Apple).

A software will clearly indicate what operating systems it supports and will be very specific if necessary including the version or versions of that OS it supports. For example, a video production software program might say that it is compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7, but is not compatible with earlier versions of Windows such as Windows Vista and XP.

Software developers also usually release additional versions of their software that work with other operating systems or different versions. Returning to the example of the video production program, that company could also launch another version of the program with exactly the same features but to work with macOS, the place with Windows.

It is also important to know if your operating system is 32-bit or 64-bit. It’s a common question that they ask you when downloading software Below you can see how to know if your computer is 32bit or 64bit in Windows.

Types of Operating Systems

At the user level of a PC, we can say that there are two types of Operating Systems: OS for PC and OS for Mobile Phones.

But there is also a wide family of operating systems categorized according to the types of computers they control and the type of applications they support. The 4 categories for this type of OS are: Real-time OS, Single User Single Task, OS Single User Multitasking and Multi-User OS.

Let’s look at the different types one by one.
PC Operating Systems
The operating systems for PC or desktop computers are varied and there are many, but the most used are Windows, Mac and LINUX. Here we leave you an image with the most used OS for PC

The use of windows is the flagship of the Microsoft operating system, the Windows, standard system for personal and business computers. Introduced in 1985, it was largely responsible for the rapid evolution of personal computing.

Mac OS is the Apple Macintosh operating system for personal computer lines and workstations. The apple is your logo.

Linux or GNU / Linux as an operating system was designed to provide personal computer users with a free or very low cost alternative. Linux has the reputation of being a very efficient and fast system. There are many different versions, the best known are Ubuntu or Fedora. The versions can be modified freely by any user.
Mobile Operating Systems
The most used mobile and tablet operating systems are Android and iOS, but you can see more in the image below. If you want to know more about these operating systems, here is a link: Mobile Operating Systems.

OS According to the Computer and the Type of Applications

Of this type we have:

– Real-time operating system (RTOS): real-time operating systems are used to control machinery, scientific instruments and industrial systems. A very important part of an RTOS is to manage the resources of the computer so that a particular operation is executed in exactly the same amount of time, every time it occurs.

– Unique user, unique task: as the name implies, this operating system is designed to manage the computer so that a user can do one thing at a time.

– Single user, multitasking: this is the type of operating system that most people use on their desktops and laptops today. Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s MacOS platforms are examples of operating systems that will allow a single user to have several programs running at the same time.

– Multi-user: a multi-user operating system allows many different users to take advantage of computer resources simultaneously. Unix, VMS and mainframe operating systems, such as MVS, are examples of multi-user operating systems.
OS Compatibility
Most software programs are designed to work with the operating system of a single company, for example only Windows (Microsoft) or only macOS (Apple).

A software will clearly indicate what operating systems it supports and will be very specific if necessary including the version or versions of that OS it supports. For example, a video production software program might say that it is compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7, but is not compatible with earlier versions of Windows such as Windows Vista and XP.

Software developers also usually release additional versions of their software that work with other operating systems or different versions. Returning to the example of the video production program, that company could also launch another version of the program with exactly the same features but to work with macOS, the place with Windows.

It is also important to know if your operating system is 32-bit or 64-bit. It is a common question they ask you when downloading software. Below you can see how to know if your computer is 32bit or 64bit in Windows.

What is the Operating System for?

The basic functions of the Operating System are to manage the resources of the computer, coordinate the hardware and organize files and directories on the storage devices of our computer.

Some more concrete things that an Operating System can do are:

– The operating system is the only great piece of software that runs the programs and takes care of everything else. For example, the operating system controls the files and other resources that these programs can access once they are executed.

– When we have multiple programs that can be run at the same time, the operating system determines which applications should be run in what order and how long.

– Manages the exchange of internal memory between multiple applications.

– It deals with the input and output of data to and from connected hardware devices, such as hard drives, printers, communication ports, keyboard, etc.

– Send messages to each application or user (or a system operator) about the operating status and errors that may have occurred.

– On computers that can provide parallel processing, an operating system can handle how to divide the program so that it runs on more than one processor at a time.

An example: when an application wants to print something, it delivers that task to the operating system. The operating system sends the instructions to the printer, using the printer drivers to send the correct signals. The application you are printing does not have to worry about which printer you have to print or understand how that printer works. The operating system handles all the details.

Another Example: When the OS runs a game, for example the Minecraft, runs it on an operating system, which has our computer.

The game, in this case Minecraft, does not have to know exactly how each different hardware component that our PC has works. What Minecraft does is use a variety of functions of the operating system, and the operating system translates them into instructions for handling our hardware. This saves Minecraft developers, and all other programs running on an operating system, many problems.
Parts of an Operating System

The operating system consists of many components or parts and many different features. The characteristics that are defined as part of the operating system vary with each operating system. However, the three parts of the OS most easily defined and used by all OS are:

– Kernel: it is the OS program that we could say is the heart of your operating system, for that reason it is also called the “core” of the OS. Kernel is the first thing to load when the OS boots and provides basic level control over all hardware devices on the computer. The main functions include reading data from memory and writing data into memory, processing execution orders, determining how devices such as the monitor, keyboard and mouse work, how they receive and send data, and how to interpret data received from networks.

The kernel or Kernel generally runs in an isolated area to prevent other computer software from manipulating it. The operating system kernel is very important, but it is only part of the operating system.

– User interface: this component allows interaction with the user, which can occur through graphic icons and a desktop or through a command line.

– Application programming interfaces: this component allows application developers to write modular code (by parts).

Linux is just a kernel. However, Linux is often called the operating system. Android is also called the operating system and is built around the Linux kernel. Linux distributions such as Ubuntu take the Linux kernel and add additional software. They are also known as operating systems.