What is Computer Memory? An Introduction For Beginners
Computers are commonly said to have brains and a memory. They are said to “think”, “learn”, and “react”. However, computers aren’t made up of living cells and tissue. These terms don’t mean the same things as they do when applied to a living, breathing being. Computer memory is the next best thing and this capability of the computer assists in the daily lives of millions of people in a variety of professions.
The most commonly known form of computer memory is RAM. Even school children know these initial, which stand for Random Access Memory. This is a volatile form of memory. Translated to laymen’s terms, volatile simply means temporary. It is not a long term memory and would best be compared to our own short term memory abilities. The information is there and being accessed by our memory when needed, but gone when it becomes unnecessary for the computer to access it in order to complete a command given by its user.
Volatile memory is sometimes referred to as dynamic because it can change and be changed. Non-volatile forms of it are sometimes referred to as static memory. It can be stored and is stable. The memory of a computer in this capacity indicates that it is not temporary in nature. A computer has both forms of memory just as we have short and long term memories. In essence, the computer and its memory are designed in a way that is reminiscent of the human brain.
What we have to remember about computers is that it is also important to know there are several types of memory, both volatile and non-volatile forms of it. Other types of computer memory include: RAM (both dynamic and static), ROM, cache, flash, virtual, video, and BIOS. There are also memory sticks. Each type of memory has specific purposes and functions and not all computers have all forms of memory. This is what makes each computer’s performance unique just as our brains are what make us unique.
It’s also important to realize that computer memory is not limited to desktops and laptops. The various types we commonly associate with computers are found in many of the electronics we use every day. Not all types are used in all electronic devices, but the individual types are located in them just the same. Some of these electronics include cell phones, PDAs (Personal Data Assistants), and radios. Even televisions and VCRs use computer memory.
The most commonly known electronic device that uses computer memory for children is the game consoles in today’s popular systems. While adults play these intriguing entertainment outlets as well, teens and kids know them best. What most children don’t realize is that the game “remembers” their ending point from a previous session of play due to the capacity of its memory. Without memory, the game console wouldn’t even remember what game to play!
Computer memory is the capacity of a computerized device to remember or run an application that makes it work the way we expect it to work when we turn it on. It is different than electricity, since that is a current that basically, in simplistic terms, wakes up the electronic, computerized device we wish to use. Computer memory makes the devices we use come to life-or as close to life as technology can get.