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There's not too much difference between a video game and a computer. Pierre Kerr,, has been working with computers for twenty years. He gives the following answer.

A Game Boy is just a special purpose computer. It will only play a game. It won't help you type a story, although if NINTENDO wanted to they could sell you a game cartridge that would do that. I have answered a previous question about computers and have included it as the answer to your question.


I looked into the Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia to see what they had for a definition of a computer and this is what I found:


Generally, any device that can perform numerical calculations-even an adding machine, an abacus, or a slide rule-may be called a computer. Currently, however, the term usually refers to an electronic device that can use a list of instructions, called a program, to perform calculations or to store, manipulate, and retrieve information.

Before there were computers, scientists had to do calculations using printed tables of numbers. Often, these tables would have errors in them and so the results that the scientists got from their calculations also had errors. Charles Babbage once said to John Herschel, a famous British astronomer, after discovering an error in a printed table "I wish these calculations had been executed by steam!" Can you imagine a computer that ran on steam!

Today we're used to seeing a PC or personal computer, sitting on a desk and giving precise answers to our questions. There are, of course, much bigger computers that are used by large companies, governments and universities. These are called mini-computers or main-frame computers and they could be big enough to fill your school library.

The invention of the transistor in 1947 and later the integrated circuit or chip, helped to make the small powerful computers that are so common today. The transistor is an electronic switch and an integrated circuit can contain millions of transistors in a tiny square smaller than your baby fingernail.

A computer is actually a pretty simple device. It doesn't really do much more than:

% % SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 10 \h

Store a number into memory

% % SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 10 \h

Get a number from memory

% % SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 10 \h

Add two numbers and store the result in memory

% % SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 10 \h

Do comparisons between two numbers such as: are they the same, is the first bigger than the second, is a number equal to zero

% % SYMBOL 183 \f "Symbol" \s 10 \h

Now, of course, a computer can do these things very quickly. This is what makes a computer seem smart. Also, the memory that the computer has can allow it to store a very large amount of information.

There's a lot more to say about computers, but you can find more information in your library. There is a computer on the wall of your library showing all of it's bits and pieces. We hope you have had a good look.

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