Issue 4
December 1995

Computer Terminology


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Prairie Grains is the
official publication of
the Minnesota
Association of
Wheat Growers,
North Dakota Grain
Growers Association,
South Dakota Wheat,
Inc., and the
Minnesota Barley
Growers Association.


Some terminology you may run into when shopping for an IBM-compatible computer:

Processor (CPU or Central Processing Unit) — The computer’s brain. The higher the number, the more powerful the processor and the faster it can think. For example, from slowest to fastest are the 286, 386, 486, Pentium-75, Pentium-90, Pentium-100, Pentium-120, and Pentium-133. Both the 286 and 386 are largely obsolete today, and fewer 486’s are being sold. Pentium-based computers are most popular now.

RAM (Random Access Memory) — How much data the processor can manage at any one time is known as RAM. While 4 to 8 megabytes of RAM is standard on most computer systems, get 16 megabytes if you can afford it. Your software will run more efficiently. Either way, make sure your RAM is expandable so you can add more later if you need to.

Hard Disk Drive — The computer’s storage device for data and software programs. Many software programs today require a lot of hard disk space, so you’ll probably want to look at a minimum of a 540 megabyte hard drive.

Monitor — You’ll want to invest in a VGA (which stands for Video Graphics Array) color monitor. Most computer system packages include a 15" VGA monitor with a resolution of .28mm dot pitch. The smaller the dot pitch number, the better the resolution.

Video Card or Graphics Card — This is how your computer communicates with the monitor. The more memory your video card has, the better picture it can support. Video cards with 1 to 2 megabytes memory are standard on most computer systems today, although you’ll pay more for 2 megabytes. In most cases, 1 megabyte video memory is sufficient.

Multimedia — Multimedia computer systems include a CD-ROM drive, a sound card, and speakers. If you want to use the popular multimedia encyclopedias, reference materials and games that are available, you’ll need these components. Look for a quad-speed CD-ROM drive, and a soundblaster or compatible sound card.

Floppy Disk Drive — Most computers come standard with a 3.5" floppy disk drive. Each floppy disk can hold up to 1.44 megabytes of data.

Mouse — Pointing device needed for most Windows-based programs. Comes standard with most computer systems, as does the keyboard.

Copyright Prairie
Grains Magazine
December 1995