What you input into a computer is called data. Because data must be in a useful form, it must be transformed into information that you can use. The process that makes this possible is called electronic data processing. Computers, as electronic data processing machines, perform different operations that convert data into information. The electronic data processing cycle consists of four stages, or components.
Input refers to all the activities associated with recording data and making it available for processing. The input component represents the process of transforming data into a form that a computer understands. Input equipment includes devices that convert data into acceptable form, transform punched card and paper tape code to binary numbers and put data into the computer's main storage area. Some examples of these machines are key punch machines, flexowriters and magnetic tape units.
After data is recorded and converted into an appropriate form, it must be processed. Processing includes different arithmetic and logical operations, so to process data means to do the classifying, sorting, summarizing, comparing and other manipulation techniques that convert data into information.
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Data processing converts data into information that must be transmitted to persons who need it. The communication function that enables this is called output. If the information is not in a form that is readable by humans, then output will also include a decoding process. This process will convert the information into the right form. Computers generate three types of output: soft copy, hard copy and sound. Output devices show the final result of the whole process.
The storage area is the area that contains the processed data and the instructions that must be followed during the data processing. It also includes information for future use. A storage device is a hardware component of a computer, and it permanently stores data on storage media. A storage media is nonvolatile.