Computers and Cars. The Challenge for the “Software Men”

Computers and Cars.

For more than 15 years we are hearing talk to our trusted mechanics, about “computer” of the car. Also hear you frequently that “.. .I will put the computer (his or his workshop) to the car to detect or diagnose the fault and its reason”. For many people, this is the link between Computers and Cars.

And indeed, since the early 1990s many vehicles come equipped withcomputers and cars internal computers that receive signals from various transducers or sensors and after processing the information, execute functions of output that can be control, signaling, of diagnostic or alarm.

In recent years, the technological advancement of the world, as well as the increase in the levels of requirements of users in relation to prevention, comfort, and safety, coupled with competition from manufacturers for having the technological supremacy of the industry, has greatly elevated the use of computer in vehicles.

From simple indications of measurements (through sensors or transducers) parameters of vehicle work: oil pressure, temperature of the engine, etc. up to sophisticated functions such as use proximity sensors to warn and to braking, the vehicle.

computers and cars

A typical modern automotive computer is which can be seen below:

computer and cars

Although many indications of failures or problems that have vehicles are listed on their own boards, these indications are only informative.   The diagnoses obtained after processing data from all sensors and transducers can be obtained by connecting the vehicle computer to computer diagnosis of the mechanic or repairer through a NETWORK established between both computers WIRED form or WIRELESS form.

Vehicles controlled by computers.

However, the speed at which various technologies have evolved, such as servomotors and servodrives, have brought the relationship between Computers and Automobiles to another level that is more similar to what, until very recently, was the subject of Futuristic fiction: self-driven vehicles.

The combination of sensors of approximation, light, sound, etc., withcomputers and cars cameras, satellital global positioning systems (GPS), wireless communication, servomechanisms and Computers, wisely handled by Software developers, have managed to initiate a new technological revolution that, in a very short time, it will elevate the standards of security and comfort in the relation Man-Vehicle to unsuspected levels.

And here again it is pertinent to ask the question of rigor: Will analysts and software developers “make think” the combination of Computers and Cars in a “safe” way in any circumstance?

Some countries have already been tested, but the Authorities are reluctant to give the authorization to start marketing. Issues regarding component reliability and the ability of the Software to solve “any situation” remain the most important limitations.

The Technology of manufacture and of the materials is working in the reliability of the physical components to which we could call Automotive Hardware, but still exists the doubt about the “reactions” of the Computer that will control to the drives.

Once again, in this theme of the Computers and Cars,  the “Software Men” have the last word…




Domestic Applications of the Computers

Domestic Applications of the Computers

Domestic Oven

A few years ago, domestic cookers ovens had a wheel to adjust the time, that “sounded”, and in fact was, like clockwork. They also had a similar temperature adjusting knob to regulate the temperature. All these were electromechanical components. Man did here, one of most antiques domestic applications of the Computers.

Currently, an oven has a DIGITAL display and has different sensors of temperature and a clock of time programming. Usually they graduate (or programmed) through a membrane or digital KEYBOARD that is connected to a card like this:

Domestic Applications of the Computers

This card has a PROCESSOR that receives the information and processes it giving as OUTPUT power to the oven heating elements for a period of time. At the same time, it also receives an INPUT signal of the temperature SENSOR that helps it to maintain regulated the oven to the desired temperature.


The old washing machines had a programmer electromechanical that determined, according to graduation, the wash cycle, rinse and spin clothes according to the user’s desire and depending on the type of tissue.

These washing machines had two controls of electromechanical selector type to control, one, the water temperature, and the other, the water level inside the tank of the washer. I.e., both decision was based on what the user “believe” that it was the right thing. For most this say that these systems do not seem to be very “green” to say.

Modern washing machines have a card, with its included PROCESSOR, this type:

Domestic Applications of the Computers

And a KEYBOARD type membrane (often with display) with which are programme the wash cycle, allowing the card control of all elements (pump, centrifuge, opening of the soap and rinse valves, inlets for hot and cold water, etc.) through their OUTPUT ports. On the other hand, a SENSOR is responsible for determining the level of water required according to the amount of clothes to be washed in this cycle.

Where else?

There are many examples more.

A Remote Control Toy Car.

Let’s see what’s inside this fun and popular infant toy.

Domestic Applications of the Computers

Hummm… A card with an included PROCESSOR CHIP, which receives INPUT from the Remote Control signals, and then process them with the PROGRAM that has the processor internally, sends orders to motors in the wheels and the mechanism of change of direction of the car, through the ports of OUTPUT. One of the Funniest domestic applications of the Computers.

Air Conditioning Thermostat Control.

“The recent past” thermostats were formed by a wheel that through a spring mechanism and gearwheels (Nothing accurate, by the way) and a mechanical membrane and a few electrical output contacts, it started or stopped the system according to the ambient temperature. They are more or less well:

Domestic Applications of the Computers

Modern thermostats are as follows:

Domestic Applications of the ComputersDomestic Applications of the Computers

They internally have a small card with its PROCESSOR CHIP that is connected, through its port of OUTPUT, with a DIGITAL display and receiving, from a few keys, adjusting programming.

With that adjustment, programmed by the user, proceed to interact, according to its internal PROGRAM and an integrated temperature SENSOR in the thermostat, with the compressor unit and the management of air conditioning.

Remote Control of a Video Equipment.

Another of the ‘accessories’ all we use almost everyday. So often and so so spontaneous that we enter not to detail its operation.

They also have its card with a PROCESSOR, a KEYBOARD as INPUT device, its INTERNAL MEMORY where it stores its PROGRAMMING, and, of course, its OUTPUT device formed by infrared transmitter (or RF) that sends instructions to the video equipment shaped wireless.

Domestic Applications of the Computers

We could search for (and illustrate) plenty of more examples. In fact, we know that today in forward you will be able to identify them and reasoning its operation as not wanting to seem unfriendly, we have done with our examples and explanations.

The only intention was to the familiarize it with abundance, in modern life and from now on later, with components that we discussed at this Web Site, which identify Computers.

And yes…….. it is true:

¡¡¡¡ We are surrounded !!!!







Applications of Computers. Straight to the Future.

Other applications of Computers.

So far we have learned much of what it takes to “face” the modern technological life without us being shocked by the ignorance of terms such as hardware, operating systems, etc. Now is the moment that we will start talking about the applications of Computers.

To do this, we want to review a series of concepts already seen and which are part of the essence of knowledge that you found with the reading at this Website.

Before, we want to talk to you about two important definitions that although they are a fundamental part of the technological world digital (and analogue), they are little mentioned by their real names. We refer to the terms Transducer and Sensor.


Technically speaking, the term transducer is very broad. In fact, if you are looking for information regarding, for example, in Wikipedia (very useful Digital Encyclopedia which can be accessed via the Internet), you will find something like this:

“… A transducer is a device capable of transforming or converting a particular manifestation of energy entering another out, but very little value in relative terms with respect to a generator.”Application of Computers. Sensor

In the case of sensors, Wikipedia is a bit more generous with the definition:

“… A sensor is a device capable of detecting physical or chemical quantities called instrumentation variables, and transform them into electric variables. Instrumentation variables can be for example: temperature, light intensity, distance, acceleration, inclination, displacement, pressure, force, torque, humidity, motion, pH, etc. Electrical magnitude can be an electrical (as in a RTD) resistance, a capacitance (as in a humidity sensor), a voltage (as in a thermocouple), a power (as in a phototransistor), etc.

What are the differences?

A sensor differs from a transducer that the sensor is always in contact with the variable’s instrumentation with what can also be said that it is a device that takes advantage of one of its properties in order to adapt the measuring signal so that another device can interpret it. As for example the Mercury thermometer that exploits the property that holds the mercury to expand or contract by the action of temperature. A sensor also can be said that it is a device that converts one form of energy into another.”

Both definitions are absolutely certain, but we include them only as a reference. We will use both terms but in the meaning more easily and it occurs to us that it may be something like this:

” Sensors and Transducers are devices used to capture physical and chemical signals, and turn them into readable or interpreted by a computer that uses them to make decisions “.

We accept for now (as long as you research, compare and validate) that definition and continue with “our theme”.


If we start from the premises (which we have already seen) conceptual following about the Applications of Computers:

  • A COMPUTER is able to “make decisions” and offer one or more OUTPUTS predefined response to one or more INPUTS using the instructions or PROGRAM. This Program is lodged in its MEMORY and which may have been “installed” by a user or come installed in the non-volatile memory by the manufacturer.
  • A COMPUTER is made up of elements of hardware inside of which the “brain” is the MICROPROCESSOR also called CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT and is not more than a CHIP container many switches of solid state, taking the position of open (0) or closed (1) depending on what program indicate.

MP 6502 Apple II. 1977Applications of Computers MP 6502

 MP Z80 TRS80. 1980Applications of Computers MP Z80

MP Intel Corel Duo. In use to DateApplications of Computers MP Intel Duo


  • A COMPUTER PROGRAM is the interactive sequence of steps running items on the computer when it receives instructions or signals through the INPUT devices, to give us one or several shares of OUTPUT across devices which can be of many types, such as a screen or display, a printer, some audio, a communications technology Bluetooth signal outputs , or simply the opening or closing of an electrical contact.
  • The INPUT devices of a computer are not limited to a keyboard, or a mouse pointer or the movement of your finger on a touch screen. It can also consist of INPUT/OUTPUT PORTS, which receive signals from SENSORS OR TRANSDUCERS externally associated with the environment where the computer “works”.

….. Then, if we look to our around, we find plenty of large, medium and small “applications of computers”. These applications, except in rare exceptions, never get the name they deserve… Where?


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The Wearable Computers

Wearable Computers

Technological advancements of mankind have gradually acquired every aspect of contemporary life, at a speed such that they have not given us time to analyze in detail this technology. We continuously use devices routinely and not stopping to try to understand how they work, and how to get the most out of them. In fact, most of the times, we don’t perceive that we are treating with wearable Computers.


Through statistical studies obtained from a survey of people between 14 and 45 years of age, users of Smartphones, made for the 2nd half of 2015 by the Numbers Inc. Marketing company in three big Cities: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, we got these revealing figures:

  • 39% change their smart phones before using fully the current, only to be “fashionable”.
  • Only 17% used productivity applications installed in their phones.
  • 31% acknowledged using their smart phone only for listening music.
  • 24% indicated not having opened several applications that brings their smartphone installed because not knowing how to use.

Other studies, as of the Cell Phones operator British O2 show little or no use of the functions of productivity of the smart phones, against its use in surfing Internet, social networking, music and games.


Smrtphone use

However, the objective of these reflections is none other than the highlight the importance that we learn to understand the capacity of our smart devices, small Computers, to take advantage of the tool, thoroughly.

Smart Phones.

The majority of these marvels of modern technology, are not more than small pocket computers with all the attributes of the case:

  • Central Unit of processing that hosts an operating system capable of even interacting with a table computer, network servers, printers, etc..
  • Devices of input/output such as touch screen, QWERTY keyboard incorporated the functions of touch screen. devices of voice recognition, inputs and outputs of Audio and Digital camera. Include too, satellite location system (GPS), non volatile storage with capacities of the order of the Gigabytes, interconnection capacity with Wi-Fi networks, Bluetooth, USB input/output port, and many other functions.
  • Software Library with thousands of titles, which include comprehensive productivity tools.



Finally, its small size should not be an element to ignore its potential.

Smart Watches.

Another application of computers for use by the man of today, are the smart watches, whose design and components do not lag behind with respect to smart phones.

These “little giants” are another powerful demonstration of what technology can achieve. It can include sensors (input elements) and the hardware and software required to detect pulse, accelerometer, calendar, camera, phone, calculator, GPS, Bluetooth connectivity and another large amount of features and applications that make it a technological marvel in miniature.


These devices, as all computer, have their own operating systems compatible with their large-scale counterparts. The most popular are Apple WatchIOS and AndroidWatchOS.

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Networks, less complex than they look.

Something About Networks.

One of the most important qualities of modern personal computers is their ability to communicate among them. Hardware manufacturers and Software developers have worked preparing standards which allow such communication through Networks, which in turn has allowed that the exchange of information can be done quickly and in real time.

At the same time, the existence of networks facilitates doing working groups that have access to the same information simultaneously, major progress in their shared management can be.

In essence, the types of networks can be divided into two:

Networks User-User.

They are networks in which all computers connected to this network receive, process, store and send information in the same way. Such networks are normally used to “domestic” level.

From the point of view of the required Software, the Windows platform in all versions, from Windows 98, allows to establish a domestic network with shared resources.

Networks User-Server-User.

They are networks in which all kinds of interrelation between the equipment of users is done through a master computer called server from the network. Usually, the server sets the priority for communications between computers and tends to be used to store the information that you want to share.


In small networks, the server can be one of the active computers as a user. When many users or much information or both are managed, is usually allocate a computer of higher performance and capacity for server function. For the management of this type of network, is often used on the server, an operating system specific to the management of networks. The best known is Windows NT (for Network).

A component called Hub or switch, where computers among them are physically linked is used in both types of networks, user-user or the server with all equipment.

Types of communication media for networks.

Communication between computers on a network can be made by one of the following means:

  • UFTP Copper Wire for Networks.

It uses a physical wiring from each computer to the Hub or switch. It allows very high speeds of communication and flow of information, and is relatively inexpensive. Since the connections are physical and ‘solid’ these networks are very reliable and secure.

  • Optical Fiber.

It is the most expensive means of communication, but the greater transmission capacity and with he obtained higher speeds of transmission of information. Like UFTP copper cable, it is very reliable and extremely secure. Their cost is high due to the sophisticated technology used.

Software Hosting

  • Wireless.

Wireless communication networks operate on the basis of signals of radio frequency between the computers that make up it and a special device that fulfills the function of encoder, decoder, receiver and the signal transmitter. This device receives the name of Access Point and usually carries a wired connection from the hub or network switch. There are commercial equipment that make both functions (access point and switch), although the most common is used two separate components.

This communication system is very versatile in terms of location and mobility, but does not offer the speed or reliability and security of wired networks. Is widely used in domestic networks and local networks of open access to public places and some shops and popularly is given the name of Wi-Fi (in its origin, for Wireless Fidelity).


Complementing the information concerning networks, we want to identify various commonly used terms that the reader will find if decide to delve into the topic.

  • LAN: Local Área Network.
  • WAN: Wide Área Network.
  • WLAN: Wireless Local Área Network.

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Hardware Components


It is named to the physical parts of these systems. Very concisely, any computer system Hardware has the following composition:

Input/output Elements.

Central Processing Unit (CPU).

Then, we will describe briefly the functions assigned to each of this components within the system.

Input/output Units or Elements.

A computer system must have, at a minimum, an entry element that allows user’s communication with the central processing unit. Such is the case of the keyboard and mouse, through which we can send to this unit, the appropriate information. Other input devices are microphones, web cameras, scanners, readers of CDs or DVDs, the collectors of fingerprints, etc.

Similarly, there should be at least an output element through which the computer gives the user information already processed for use.

As examples of output devices, we can mention the video unit, printers, headphones, CDs or DVD recorders, the audio outputs of the computer, etc.


On the other hand, there are components that behave in both ways, that is, work with information to and from the central processing unit. Typical cases of these elements are memory storage units, touch screens, the multifunction equipment to send and receive Faxes through your computer and in general, all input/output type USB ports, network or communication ports, ports serial or parallel to be used for communication with other devices, etc.

Central Processing Unit (CPU).

This component of the system is considered the most important, owing to its performance as “smart element” or brain of the computer. In its origins, they were formed by a series of electronic circuits known as integrated circuits or “chips”.  Those Chips, fulfilled the functions of processing and storing information. Since the 1970s, when INTEL launched the 4004 microprocessor which integrated into a single component all the functions of the CPU comprised of independent circuits, microprocessors became the CPU by excellence and relegated to oblivion to all the circuitry which had fulfilled this function.

Hardware Components

Generally, the central processing units are divided into three basic areas:

Control unit: is responsible for organizing the execution of a sequence of instructions known as program.

Logic-arithmetic unit: it is responsible for running the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (arithmetic), in addition to the operations of “Boolean logic” when verifying a number is positive, negative or zero.

Memory resident or accommodation: in this area of the central processing unit, the information is “saved” and is where is hosted the program from the system.

Another very important internal element of the microprocessor is the internal clock, which is nothing more than an element that works through a quartz crystal that oscillates (electrically) at a constant speed to mark the rhythm or pulse in the CPU operations.

This clock defines the processing speed of the microprocessor and is also used as a reference for the actual time elapsed when it works on the basis of a cumulative counter. To specify the characteristic quantitatively more important of internal clocks of microprocessors, is used as unit of measurement the Hertz and its multiples.

The rest of the Hardware elements, which complement the work of the microprocessors, are basically the interfaces or internal cards for the management of audio, video, work and storage memories, and input/output ports.

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