Introduction to Hardware
First Segment

Overall Course Objective:

Upon completion of this course, a student should be able to correctly identify all parts and names of computer systems, understand how they fit together, be able to change parts, and carry on a technical conversation about a computer system over the telephone.

This course will also prepare the student's mind in upcoming classes, in that they will have seen what is `inside the box' and can have a better understanding about what is taking place.


Methodology for Instruction:

The first segment is about safety first. It is a lecture that last about 3 minutes.

The segment(s) about memory, the different kinds of memory, and what the micro-p does with memory is also a lecture. This is where some math is applied so that students can have some understanding how processors handle information.
This should be taught with an overhead and visual tools to support base numbering systems such as hexadecimal. (I have a number of software tools for such educational purposes, which could be embedded in a PowerPoint presentation).

As the discussion of memory moves into virtual memory as stored on a fixed disk, the instructor can make samples available for students to handle (safely).

The following segments of the bullet point list can be easily covered between hands-on instruction and visual aides.

While there are certain network and modem interfaces that must be discussed for the student to learn about Internet connectivity, other interface topics may be left as an option for the instructor.

The student must be able to handle all (or most) of the components brought up in instruction and discussion. While there are times at which the instructor will lead a lecture, or instruct in an unseen topic, such as the internal workings of a microprocessor, the majority of the instruction is intended to be hands-on. Manipulating the objects themselves is an excellent experience for the students.

Throughout the course work were hardware interfaces are concerned, the student should be taught some basic trouble shooting skills. It need not be specific with each item, only to instill an understanding of how to recognize improper operation.

Student Assessment:

A written quiz, covering topics of terminology and application testing to determine what component has failed. No knowledge of testing tools is required. The student should merely know that a particular component should be tested or replaced as part of a test. To be sure that the student has a full understanding of the concepts, a written answer of a few words would be preferable to giving away answers with multiple-choice formats.

Each student should be able to mount and dismount components from inside a computer system cabinet. To include cards and drives.

Course Materials:


  Objective ECT Terminology Explanation Summary Exercises Test
One Safety precautions 10 minutes DC vs. AC, Static Safety Explanation of both the shock danger to humans and of the same for static devices like computers. How to be safe, work safely, and keep your equipment safe. Plugging and un-plugging, power, connections and peripherals safely.Handling static devices safely. As lab
Two To give an understanding of how a computer's parts talk to each other. 10 minutes Interrupt flags, direct memory access channels, input / output ports, hexadecimal. An examination of central processes.What the system bus is and how it everything communicates using it.The compression of information using other numbering systems. What information travels on the wires, and were it goes. N/A Written test with focus on terminology.
Three Understanding memory. 10 minutes SRAM, DRAM, buffer, cache, VidRam and shared memory. An examination of how memory works. Covering different kinds of memory and their applications in systems. What memory looks like and what it does. Handling static devices safely.Viewing memory dumps. Multiple choice quiz.
Four To give an insight into System Startup. Bootstrap and initial control. 15 minutes motherboard, battery, ROM BIOS, CMOS memory, microprocessor chips, video/sound cards, IO boards, network cards, and modems cards. To explain how a computer finds out what to do, and what it has attached to it. What the boot process is. Booting computers. Connect the blocks with lines test. Complete the flowchart.
Five To become familiar with on-line storage. 10 minutes Hard drives, fixed disks, data retrieval, archives. An examination of storage & retrieval sub-systems. How and where information is stored. Watching status LEDs while accessing drives. None.
Six To understand memory emulators 5 minutes Swap files, virtual memory. Virtual drives as an memory extensions Emulating RAM with hard drives. Looking at the windows swap file with a disk mapper. One or two multiple choice questions on the final quiz.
Seven To become familiar with off-line storage. 10 minutes Floppy, CD-ROM, tape, ZIP, and network drives; backup. Show examples of peripheral storage devices. File transfer and backups. Watching a backup device in action. Handle off-line media. Multiple choice quiz.
Eight To understand what the parts that user interacts with. 15 minutes Video interfaces, mice and keyboards, multimedia & sound peripherals. Show the different types of real-world interfaces and how they connect. The user interface. Plugging in mice, keyboards,monitors, and speakers. Adding and removing cards. As Lab.
Nine To understand roles played by different peripheral interfaces in computer and peripheral communications. 10 minutes Serial interfaces: RS232, USB, Modems.Parallel interfaces: centronics, and SCSI.Network Interfaces.Hubs, routers, and switches. DSL and cable modem connections.Wireless interfaces. (Infrared and radio). Examples of networking and telecommunications hardware. How they interact with each other. External communications Installing a printer, a modem, and a network card. As Lab.

Hardware Development:

Throughout the course the students will have an opportunity to look at a historical sampling of the same types of hardware that they are learning about now. This will display the advents of engineering to improve and miniaturize component elements.

CPU history and explanations of current technologies as it relates to hardware interfaces.