PC Architecture. Preface

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    PC Architecture. Preface

    Copyright Michael Karbo and ELI Aps., Denmark, Europe.


    Welcome to a guide which has very been exciting to write. I have spent many years learning to understand PC’s and how they work, and this knowledge has been my starting point. I started working with computers in about 1983, and in 1986 I bought my first PC – a small, cheap, British computer (an “Amstrad Joyce”), with a whopping 256 KB RAM and 140 KB diskettes to store programs on. It was a glorious little machine which I used to write a lot of teaching material. As one of the very first things I did, I naturally tried to take the machine apart – the little bit I then dared. In 1987 I got a job which involved working with real PC’s (Olivetti’s), and this gave me real opportunities to repair, assemble and investigate the various components of a computer.

    Since then, I have spent years studying the relationship between PC hardware and system software (BIOS, drivers and operating system). A subject which I found fascinating and which I still believe is important to understand. This lead to my first computer book, “The PC-DOS Book”, which was published in January 1993. Since then I have published about 45 guides, on the pc hardware and software.

    In 1996 I again began this book. Initially I decided to collect all my articles together on the “Click and Learn” website. The material was extended and translated into both English and German. One of the advantages of the web medium is that the author can continually update the material. And now, after many years, I am finally ready with the ”PC Architecture” book. I hope you like it!


    This guide is written in easy language and contains a lot of illustrations. It should therefore not be too difficult to understand the content. However, I am assuming that the reader already has some practical experience with PC’s and is familiar with the most basic computer jargon (bits, bytes, RAM, etc.). I have also assumed some knowledge of Windows and the various system tools. Most PC’s can easily be dismantled without needing special tools, and you should at least take the “lid” off your PC so that you can familiarise yourself with the electronics, preferably with a torch in hand. I’m not expecting you to immediately launch off into the complete disassembly of your PC into its individual pieces. You are welcome to do this, but at your own risk.

    However, I would like to give you enough insight into and confidence about your PC’s workings that you would dare to upgrade your PC, for example, with a new hard disk or more RAM. And if you should end up building your next PC yourself, I would be more than satisfied.

    Structure of this guide

    My explanations will shift from descriptions of the big picture to much more detailed analysis – and back again. After focusing on chips deep inside your PC, we may change perspective to more general and holistic observations, only to dig down again into the centre of some or other small circuit. My goal has been to keep my explanations at the popular level, and easy to understand – all the way through.

    As I mentioned, this guide can be a great support tool for people who simply wish to build PC’s themselves. But my goal is more specifically to communicate a holistic understanding of the various components of a PC and its data sets, the logical system they are part of, and the technological developments in the field. It is very useful to have this insight, whether you are a programmer, support person, educator, or just a “super user”.

    I would like to thank the companies and people who have helped me to obtain accurate, detailed information and photographs. It is not always easy to confirm technical data, so it is possible there may be occasional mistakes in my presentation. Should that be the case, I hope you will bear with me in these. Try instead to appreciate the explanation of the big picture, which it has been my primary goal to set forth!

    My thanks to Fujitsu-Siemens, AMD, Intel and others, for pictures and other support! I have taken most of the photographs using my Canon G2 camera, and processed the images using the Photoshop program. The other graphics have been produced using Fireworks. My thanks to Ebbe, Peter, Mikkel, Carl and Jette for their support and, not least, repeated reviews of the manuscript.

    The book is protected by copyright

    The book has been published in many European countries but never in English language. Therefore I desided to upload it to the Internet. It is free to use as it is for personal, non-commercial use. All rights belong to Michael Karbo. You may not in any way copy the contents.

    The design ...

    Thise web pages have been produced from a Microsoft Word file. Hence the design, which could be a lot beter. However, it is too much work for me to clean it all up. So you'll have to live with it as it is.

    I hope you enjoy the book.
    Michael B. Karbo. March 2005.

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