By Dennis Longley, Michael Shain

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The microprocessor has a rather peculiar view of the world, it regards it as source of complicated electrical pulses and duly returns a rather different set of pulses. Useful it is - user friendly it is not. A microcomputer supplements a microprocessor with all those units which enable it to receive data from a user and to return usable output information to him . The minimum set of components comprise : 20 MICROCOMPUTER HARDWARE • • • • Memory Firmware Input output units Power supplies. The memory holds the instructions and data that are accessed and processed by the computer.

A similar display matrix can be supplied by plasma panels which are lighter, have a more convenient flat shape and requ ire less soph isticated electronics than the CRT. The plasma panel consists essentially of a fine grid of wires with the vertical and horizontal components separated by a few microns. The grid is housed in a gas tight glass sandwich with a surface area comparable with that of a TV set. A voltage applied to a vertical and a horizontal wire causes a local ionisation of the gas at that point and a spot of light appears on the screen.

C. voltages demanded by the chips. It is well to remember that the rest of the world does not uniformly offer 230V 50Hz when privately importing a microcomputer or taking one abroad . The distinction between a microcomputer and a microcomputer system may well lead to debate since some modern basic m icrocomputers contain all the peripheral units necessary for normal operation . Taking the above definition of a microcomputer, however, then the microcomputer system contains all the additional input output devices, and backing storage, necessary to perform the user tasks.

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