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How Computers Work, Ninth Edition

Book Description

Having sold more than 2 million copies over its lifetime, How Computers Work is the definitive illustrated guide to the world of PCs and technology. In this new edition, you’ll find detailed information not just about every last component of hardware found inside your PC, but also in-depth explanations about home networking, the Internet, PC security, and even how cell phone networks operate. Whether you’re interested in how the latest graphics cards power today’s most demanding games or how a digital camera turns light into data, you’ll find your answers right here.

Ron White is a former executive editor and columnist for PC Computing, where he developed the visual concept behind How Computers Work. Founder of one of the

earliest PC user groups, he has been writing about computers for 25 years and is known for building wildly extreme computers.

Timothy Edward Downs is an award-winning magazine designer, illustrator, and photographer. He has directed and designed several national consumer, business, technology, and

lifestyle magazines, always infusing a sense of “how it works” into every project.

A full-color, illustrated adventure into the wonders of TECHNOLOOGY

This full-color, fully illustrated guide to the world of technology assumes nothing and explains everything. Only the accomplished Ron White and award-winning Tim Downs have the unique ability to meld descriptive text with one-of-a-kind visuals to fully explain how the electronic gear we depend on every day is made possible. In addition to all the content you’ve come to expect from prior editions, this newly revised edition includes all-new coverage of topics such as:

•    How tablet PCs put the power of a PC quite literally in your hands

•    How Windows Vista makes your Windows desktop translucent and makes your PC more secure

•    How advances in optical disc technology such as dual-layer DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray discs continue to push the envelope

•    How Apple’s new iPhone is revolutionizing what cell phones can do

•    How BitTorrent technology enables anyone to share information with everyone

For a decade, How Computers Work has helped newbies understand new technology, while at the same time hackers and IT pros have treasured it for the depth of knowledge it contains. This is the perfect book about computing to capture your imagination, delight your eyes, and expand your mind, no matter what your technical level!

Category: General Computing

Covers:    PCs/Hardware

User Level:    Beginning–Intermediate

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. About the Author
  3. About the Illustrator
  4. Acknowledgments
  5. We Want to Hear From You!
  6. Reader Services
  7. Introduction
  8. Before You Begin
  9. 1. Boot-Up Process
    1. 1. Getting to Know the Hardware
      1. Inside the Personal Computer
      2. How Notebook PCs Come Together
      3. How Tablet PCs Set You Free
        1. How Screens Feel Your Touch
        2. Resistive System
        3. Capacitive Touchscreen
        4. Surface Acoustic Wave
        5. Optical Imaging
        6. Dispersive Signal Sensing
      4. How Tablet PCs Read Your Handwriting
    2. 2. How Circuits Juggle Data
      1. How Circuit Boards Work
      2. How the Motherboard Brings It All Together
      3. How the North and South Bridge Move Traffic
      4. How PCI-Express Breaks the Bus Barrier
    3. 3. How a PC Comes Alive
      1. How the Power-On Self-Test Gets Your PC Started
      2. How a Disk Boot Wakes Up Your PC
    4. 4. How an Operating System Controls Hardware
      1. How Hardware and Software Work Together
      2. How Hardware Tells the CPU What to Do
      3. How Plug and Play Works
      4. How the Registry Knows It All
  10. 2. How Microchips are the PC’s Brain
    1. 5. How Transistors Manipulate Data
      1. How a Little Transistor Does Big Jobs
      2. Writing Data to RAM
      3. Reading Data from RAM
      4. How Memory Cards and Flash Drives Work
    2. 6. How a Microprocessor Works
      1. The Brains
      2. How the Processor Uses Registers
      3. How a Computer Performs Addition
      4. How a Microprocessor Moves Data
      5. How Multi-core Processors Work
      6. How Overclocking Multiplies Time
        1. Revving Up the Clock
      7. How a PC Keeps Its Cool
      8. How Advanced Cooling Solutions Refrigerate Your PC
        1. Water Cooled PCs
        2. Peltier Cooling
  11. 3. How Software Works
    1. 7. How Programming Languages Work
      1. Different Programming Languages
      2. Software Construction
      3. The Flow of a Program
      4. How Software Interpreters Work
      5. How a Compiler Creates Software
    2. 8. How Windows Works
      1. How Windows XP Controls Programs Gone Wild
      2. How Windows Shares Program Code
      3. How Windows Shares Data on the Clipboard
      4. How Vista Creates New Vistas
      5. How the Aero Interface Sees All
      6. How ClearType Divides and Conquers the Jaggies
      7. How Vista Protects Your PC with Decoys
    3. 9. How Software Applications Do Your Work
      1. Database Managers
      2. Spreadsheet Software
      3. Word Processors
      4. Graphics Software
      5. How a Database Organizes Information
        1. Fixed-Length Field Records
        2. Variable-Length Field Records
      6. How a Database Stores Records
      7. How Databases Make Connections
      8. How Spreadsheets Solve Formulas
      9. How Bitmaps Save Artwork
      10. How Art is Squeezed to Save Space
      11. How Vector Graphics Change Shape
      12. How Software Uses Numbers to Correct Photos
      13. How Photo Editors Restore Old Pictures
      14. How the Digital Darkroom Pokes Fun at You
      15. How Word Processors Format Text
  12. 4. Data Storage
    1. 10. How a Computer’s Long-Term Memory Works
      1. How Electromagnetism Reacts with Matter
      2. How a Drive Writes and Reads Bits on a Disk
      3. How a Drive Maps a Disk’s Surface
      4. How a PC Saves a File to Disk
      5. How a PC Retrieves a File from a Disk
    2. 11. How Disk Drives Save Information
      1. How a Floppy Drive Stores a Little
      2. How a Hard Drive Stores a Lot
      3. How a Mirrored Drive Array Protects Files
      4. How a Striped Drive Array Boosts Performance
    3. 12. How Little Things Make Drives Faster and Bigger
      1. How Small Changes in Drives Get Big Results
        1. The Zip Drive
        2. Perpendicular Recording
      2. How File Compression Makes Files Smaller
      3. How Disk Defragmentation Works
    4. 13. How PCs Use Light to Remember Data
      1. How a CD-ROM Drive Works
      2. How a Recordable CD-ROM (CD-R) Works
      3. How a Double-Layer DVD Works
      4. How DVDs Play the Blues
  13. 5. Input/Output Devices
    1. 14. How Data Gets Into Your PC
      1. The Keyboard and Scan Codes
      2. How Mice Obey Your Every Gesture
        1. Mechanical Mouse
        2. Optical Mouse
      3. How a Touchpad Works
      4. How a Pointing Stick Works
      5. How Speech Recognition Works
    2. 15. How Scanners Capture Words and Images
      1. How Computers See
      2. How a Flatbed Scanner Works
      3. How Optical Character Recognition Works
    3. 16. How Computers Use Power
      1. How the Power Supply Works
      2. How a UPS Keeps Your Computer Going
      3. How Surge Protectors Work
    4. 17. How Serial Ports Triumph
      1. Analog and Digital Converters
      2. How Bandwidth Moves Your Data
      3. How a Parallel Port Works
      4. How a Serial Port Works
      5. How the Universal Serial Bus (USB) Works
      6. How Serial ATA Overtakes EIDE
      7. How SCSI Works
    5. 18. How a Computer Display Works
      1. How a CRT Paints the Screen
      2. How an LCD Screen Works
      3. How Plasma Displays Glow
      4. How Digital Light Processing Works
    6. 19. How Digital Photography Works
      1. How Digital Cameras Capture Light
      2. How Autofocus Lenses Work
      3. How Auto Exposure Works
  14. 6. Games and Multimedia
    1. 20. How Multimedia Sound Works
      1. How Sound Cards Work
      2. How MIDI and FM Synthesis Work
      3. How Digital Sound Tricks Your Ear
        1. Dolby Noise Reduction
        2. Multichannel Sound
        3. MP3 and Digital Audio Compression
      4. How 3D Audio Works
      5. How iPods Dish Out Media To Go
        1. The Classic iPod
        2. The Shuffle, Nano and Touch
    2. 21. How Multimedia Video Works
      1. How the Digital Camcorder Captures Future Memories
      2. How a Digital Camera Squeezes Video Down to Size
      3. How TiVo Unites TVs and Computers
    3. 22. How Game Hardware Puts You In the Action
      1. How Video Cards Break the Game Barrier
      2. How a Joystick Puts You at the Controls
      3. How Force-Feedback Joysticks Work
      4. How Game Controllers Put Play at Your Fingertips
        1. The Gamepad
        2. The Wiimote
    4. 23. How Games Create 3D Worlds
      1. How Computers Plot a 3D World
        1. How Games Create 3D Worlds
        2. How Geometry Becomes a Thing
      2. How 3D Graphics Get Dressed
      3. How Shaders Control the World
      4. How Games Create New Worlds
  15. 7. How the Internet Works
    1. 24. How Local Area Networks Work
      1. How Packets Divvy Up Data
      2. How Networks Are Laid Out
        1. Client/Server Networks
        2. Peer-to-Peer Networks
        3. Wide-Area Network (WAN)
        4. The Shapes of LANs
      3. How Network Nodes Connect
      4. How Phone and Power Lines Bring LANs Home
    2. 25. How PCs Connect to the Internet
      1. How a Dial-up Modem Calls the Internet
      2. How DSL Turbocharges a Phone Line
      3. How Cable Modems Bring the Internet to Your PC
    3. 26. How the Internet Moves Data
      1. How Networks Talk with Each Other
      2. How Information Travels the Internet
    4. 27. How We Reach Each Other Through the Net
      1. How Internet File Sharing Works
      2. How BitTorrents Spread the Wealth
      3. How Email Replaces Snail Mail
      4. How Chat Rooms Throw a Party
      5. How Instant Messaging Lets You Pass Notes
    5. 28. How Wireless Sets PCs Free
      1. How Wi-Fi Spreads the Net Everywhere
      2. How Cell Phones Make a Call
      3. Analog Versus Digital
      4. How Wireless Internet Keeps You Connected
      5. How Bluetooth Keeps Devices Connected
      6. How the iPhone Makes It All Slick
    6. 29. How the Net Provides Video and Audio on Demand
      1. How a PC Plays Streaming Audio
      2. How a PC Displays Streaming Video
    7. 30. How the World Wide Web Works
      1. How a Web Browser Opens Web Pages
      2. How a Web Browser Displays Pages
      3. How Cookies Save Crumbs of Data
      4. How Google Knows Everything
      5. How eBay Sells Everything
    8. 31. How Internet Security Fights Off PC Invaders
      1. How Computer Hackers Break Into Your PC
      2. How Spyware Reports Everything You Do
      3. How Internet Firewalls Keep Out Hackers
      4. How Computer Viruses Invade Your Computer
      5. How Viruses Travel in Your Email
      6. How Antivirus Software Fights Back
      7. How Spammers Find You
        1. Public Sources for Spammers
          1. Harvesting from Email Directories
      8. How Antispam Software Sniffs Out Phony Email
      9. How Prime Numbers Protect Prime Secrets
  16. 8. How Printers Work
    1. 32. How Black-and-White Printing Works
      1. How Printers Make Cookie-Cutter Text
      2. How Outline Fonts Work
      3. How the First Printers Created Text
      4. How a Laser Printer Works
    2. 33. How Color Printing Works
      1. How Printed Colors are Created
      2. How a Color Ink-jet Printer Works
      3. How a Photo Printer Works
      4. How a Color Laser Printer Works
      5. How a Solid-Ink Color Printer Works