Being in I.T support we are often asked similar questions a lot of the time. We have therefore compiled a list of common questions.
Daily Computing FAQ
When was the first computer invented?
|First Mechanical Computer|
The first mechanical computer created by Charles Babbage in 1822.
|First Programmable Computer|
The Z1 was created by German Konrad Zuse in his parents’ living room between 1936 and 1938. It is considered to be the first electro-mechanical binary programmable computer, and the first really functional modern computer.
|First Electric Programmable Computer|
The Colossus was the first electric programmable computer, developed by Tommy Flowers, and first demonstrated in December1943. The Colossus was created to help the British code breakers read encrypted German messages.
|First Digital Computer|
The ENIAC was invented by J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly between 1943 and 1946. It occupied about 1,800 square feet and used about 18,000 vacuum tubes, weighing almost 50 tons. The ENIAC was the first digital computer.
|First Stored Program Computer|
The early British computer known as the EDSAC is considered to be the first stored program electronic computer. The computer performed its first calculation on May 6,1949 and was the computer that ran the first graphical computer game, nicknamed “Baby”.
|First Commercial Computer|
In 1942, Konrad Zuse begin working on the Z4 that later became the first commercial computer. The computer was sold to Eduard Stiefel, a mathematician of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich on July 12, 1950.
|IBM’s First Computer|
On April 7, 1953 IBM publicly introduced the 701. Its first commercial scientific computer.
|First Computer with RAM|
MIT introduces the Whirlwind machine on March 8, 1955, a revolutionary computer that was the first digital computer with magnetic core RAM and real-time graphics.
|First Transistor Computer|
The TX-O (Transistorized Experimental computer) is the first transistorized computer to be demonstrated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1956.
|First Mini Computer|
In 1960, Digital Equipment Corporation released its first of many PDP computers, the PDP-1.
|First Mass-market and Desktop Computer|
In 1968, Hewlett Packard began marketing the first mass-marketed PC and the first desktop computer, the HP 9100A.
The first workstation is considered to be the Xerox Alto, introduced in 1974. The computer was revolutionary for its time and included a fully functional computer, display, and mouse. The computer operated like many computers today utilizing windows, menus and icons as an interface to its operating system. Many of the computer’s capabilities were first demonstrated in The Mother of All Demos by Douglas Engelbart on December 9, 1968.
|First MicroprocessorIntel introduces the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004 on November 15, 1971.|
|First Personal Computer|
In 1975, Ed Roberts coined the term “personal computer” when he introduced the Altair 8800. Although the first personal computer is considered by many to be the KENBAK-1, which was first introduced for $750 in 1971. The computer relied on a series of switches for inputting data and output data by turning on and off a series of lights.
|First Laptop or Portable Computer|
The IBM 5100 is the first portable computer, which was released on September 1975. The computer weighed 55 pounds and had a five inch CRT display, tape drive, 1.9MHz PALM processor, and 64KB of RAM. In the picture is an ad of the IBM 5100 taken from a November 1975 issue of Scientific America.
|First Multimedia Computer|
In 1992, Tandy Radio Shack became one of the first companies to release a computer based on the MPC standard with its introduction of the M2500 XL/2 and M4020 SX computers.
|Apple introduced its first computer in 1976 called Apple I (Apple 1). The computer kit was developed by Steve Wozniak and contained a 6502 8-bit processor and 4 kb of memory, which was expandable to 8 or 48 kb using expansion cards. Although the Apple I had a fully assembled circuit board the kit still required a power supply, display, keyboard, and case to be operational. Below is a picture of an Apple I from an advertisement by Apple.|
|IBM introduced its first personal computer called the IBM PC in 1981. The computer was code named and still sometimes referred to as the Acorn and had an 8088 processor, 16 KB of memory, which was expandable to 256 and utilized MS-DOS.|
|Compaq introduced its first computer in March 1983. It is considered to be the first PC clone. The Compaq Portable was 100% compatible with IBM computers and was capable of running any software developed for IBM computers.|
|Commodore introduced its first computer, the “Commodore PET” in 1977.|
|Dell introduced its first computer, the “Turbo PC.” in 1985.|
|NEC introduced its first computer, the “NEAC 1101.” in 1958.|
|Toshiba introduces its first computer, the “TAC” digital computer in 1954.|
Who invented the Internet?
|Internet||A single person did not create the Internet. Below is a listing of different people who have helped contribute to and develop the Internet. The initial idea of the Internet is credited to Leonard Kleinrock on May 31, 1961. In 1962, J.C.R. Licklider gave his vision of a galactic network. Also with ideas from Licklider, Kleinrock & Robert Taylor helped create the idea of the network that later became ARPANET.|
|Network Equipment||On August 29, 1969, the first network switch and the first piece of network equipment called “IMP” (Interface Message Processor) are sent to UCLA. On September 2, 1969, the first data moves from the UCLA host to the switch. The connection not only enabled the first transmission to be made, but is also considered the first Internet backbone. The first message to be distributed was “LO”, which was an attempt at “LOGIN” by Charley S. Kline to log into the SRI computer from UCLA.|
|Ray Tomlinson sends the first network e-mail in 1971. It’s the first messaging system to send messages across a network to other users.|
|Telnet||A commercial version of ARPANET, known as Telnet, is introduced in 1974 and considered to be the first Internet Service Provider (ISP).|
|Ethernet||Bob Metcalfe develops the idea of Ethernet in 1973.|
|Modem||strong>Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington released the 80-103A Modem in 1977. The Modem and their subsequent modems become a popular choice for home users to connect to the Internet and get online.|
|TCP||Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn design TCP during 1973 and later publish it with the help of Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine in December of 1974 in RFC 675. Most people consider these two people the inventors of the Internet.|
|TCP/IP||In 1978, TCP splits into TCP/IP, driven by Danny Cohen, David Reed, and John Shoch to support real-time traffic. The creation of TCP/IP help create UDP and is later standardized into ARPANET on January 1, 1983. Today TCP/IP is still the primary protocol used on the Internet.|
|DNS||Paul Mockapetris and Jon Postel introduce DNS in 1984, which also introduces the domain name system. The first Internet domain name, symbolics.com, is registered on March 15, 1985 by Symbolics, a Massachusetts computer company.|
|Dial-Up ISP||The first commercial Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the US, known as “The World”, is introduced in 1989. The World was the first ISP to be used on what we now consider to be the Internet.|
|HTML||In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee develops HTML, which made a huge contribution to how we navigate and view the Internet today.|
|WWW||Tim Berners-Lee introduces WWW to the public on August 6,1991. The World Wide Web (WWW) is what most people today consider the “Internet” or a series of sites and pages that are connected with links. The Internet had hundreds of people who helped develop the standards and technologies used today, but without the WWW, the Internet would not be as popular as it is today.|
|Graphical Internet Browser||Mosaic is the first widely used graphical World Wide Web browser developed and first released on April 22, 1993 by the NCSA with the help of Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina. A big competitor to Mosaic was Netscape, which was released a year later. Today, most of the Internet browsers we use today, e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, etc., got their inspiration from the Mosaic browser.|
Who Developed the Computer Virus?
In 1986, students at the University of Delaware began experiencing strange symptoms: temporary memory loss, a lethargic drive, and fits of rage. This wasn’t just any old flu—it was the world’s first personal computer virus. Known as Brain, the bug destroyed memory, slowed the hard drive, and hid a short copyright message in the boot sector, introducing the world to two soon-to-be hacker celebrities.
At the time, coders Basit and Amjad Farooq Alvi were just 17 and 24, respectively, running a computer store in Lahore, Pakistan. When they discovered that customers were circulating illegal copies of software they’d written, the brothers decided to retaliate. Brain was their attempt to scare pirates straight, but, as the creators tell it, the virus was never intended to be malicious. In a 2011 interview with F-Secure, a Finnish anti-virus company, the brothers called the bug a “friendly virus,” one that “was not made to destroy any data.” Why else would they have stamped the virus code with their names, their phone numbers, and the address of their shop?
The brothers claim they never knew that Brain would grow into a monster beyond their control. But a 1988 TIME magazine article reveals a more complicated truth: As concerned as they were with piracy of their own software, that didn’t stop them from making and selling bootleg copies of other expensive programs, such as Lotus 1-2-3. In fact, the ethics of their computer vigilantism are a little murky. Computer software isn’t copyright protected in Pakistan, Basit has argued in interviews, so therefore it’s not piracy for people to trade bootleg disks.
Under that rationale, the brothers sold clean bootleg copies to Pakistanis—and virus-infected versions to American students and backpackers. When Americans flew home and attempted to copy the programs, they ended up infecting every floppy disc subsequently inserted into their computers, even discs that had nothing to do with the original program.
Shortly after the University of Delaware outbreak, Brain began popping up at other universities, and then at newspapers. The New York Times reported that a “rogue computer program” had hit the Providence Journal-Bulletin, though the “damage was limited to one reporter losing several months of work contained on a floppy disk.”
While there was never any legal action, the media response was explosive. Basit and Amjad began receiving calls from all over the world. They were as surprised as anyone that their little experiment had traveled so far. After all, unlike today’s computer viruses, which spread at lightning speed, Brain had to transmit itself the old-fashioned way—through human carriers toting around 5.25-inch floppy discs.
But the binary genie was out of the bottle. Today, there are more than a million viruses vying to infect your computer; it’s estimated that half of all PCs are or have been infected. Consumers shell out more than $4 billion per year for software to fight these digital dragons.
As for the brothers, the virus hasn’t been bad for business. Their company, Brain Net, is now the largest Internet service provider in Pakistan. While they maintain that they never meant to hurt anyone, they have nevertheless embraced Brain as a device that exposed the global nature of piracy. “The virus could not have spread unless people were copying the software illegally,” Amjad said during his Pakistani TV interview.
The brothers, who told reporters that they stopped selling contaminated software sometime in 1987, are still based at the same address in Lahore—the one stamped into Brain’s code
My computer does not turn on, what do I do now?
First check the computer’s power cord to make sure it is completely plugged into the wall socket. If you are using a plug strip, make sure it is completely plugged into the wall socket and that the power switch on the plug strip is turned on. Some plug strips also have a built in circuit breaker which usually looks like a black or red button near the power switch. Press the button to reset it and see if that solves the problem.
What do I do when my computer crashes?
There are many reasons why a computer may just stop working or “freeze”. Most of the time there isn’t much we can do about it, it is a fact of life that computer programs have become so complex that occasionally users will experience problems even when performing common tasks. When your computer no longer responds to keyboard commands your best bet is to re-boot the computer.
What do I do if my hard disk fails to work?
As with most computer errors, your first step is to shut down your computer and restart it. This will help you confirm weather or not you actually have a hard disk problem. If the disk is severely damaged then your computer will probably fail to restart properly. If this is the case then contact MC Ware, this is a job for the professionals.
There is no display on the monitor, what do I do now?
Make sure the monitor is on. If no power light (green or orange light) is seen on the monitor display try pressing the power button until it comes on. If your computer monitor was on and you stepped away from the computer and upon returning it was black it’s likely that the computer is asleep. Try moving your mouse, clicking the mouse buttons, and/or pressing any key (space bar) on the keyboard to wake it up. Make sure that the monitor is connected properly to the back of the computer.
I get a ‘no signal input’ message, what do I do?
Verify that the monitor is properly connected in the back of the monitor as well as to the back of the computer. If the monitor appears to be connected properly, verify that a cable is not loose by disconnecting all cables that can be disconnected in the back of the monitor (generally the data cable cannot be disconnected). Next, disconnect the data cable connected to the back of the computer and then reconnect the cable. When connecting the cable in the back of the computer ensure the cable connection is tight. Most Computers will also have screw ends that can be screwed in to hold the connector in place.
What do I do if the image on screen is distorted or skewed?
You may receive a distorted image when the cable is loose or defective. Disconnect the video cable going from the back of the computer and verify that no pins are bent, burnt or broken. Once verified re-connect the monitor cable. If the refresh rate is not properly set the monitor may have a wavy or an appearance that lines are going down or across the monitor slowly or fast, this may also cause a flickering affect. A distorted image can be caused by magnetic or other types of interference. Verify no speakers, fans or other magnetic devices are close to the monitor.
There are black borders on my screen, what do I do?
If the resolution was recently changed it is possible for the monitor to not auto adjust or shift to the correct size. If this occurs, the resolution can be changed back to the original setting or you can manually adjust the monitor. If a black border exists on the monitor it can generally be resolved by manually adjusting the horizontal or vertical width. Because each monitor is different, the method of adjusting this setting will vary; consult your monitor documentation.
Mouse & Keyboard FAQ
Why is my mouse acting erratically?
Users who have an optical mechanical mouse (most common mouse for desktop computers) are likely experiencing erratic behaviour because the mouse is not clean or is dirty. If you’ve cleaned the mouse and continue to encounter issues and this mouse has worked in the past fine unfortunately your mouse is likely defective. One additional test that can be done to help determine if this is the case or not is to connect the mouse to another computer. Otherwise we suggest replacing the mouse.
The wheel on my mouse isn’t working properly, what do I do?
If you’re running any version of Microsoft Windows and are encountering issues with the mouse wheel first attempt to adjust the mouse settings through the Mouse Properties window. This window can be accessed by opening the Control Panel and double-clicking the Mouse icon.
How can I clean my keyboard?
The keys on a keyboard are only clipped on, with a knife or other thin object carefully pop the keys off, this will allow you to clean under the keys as well as cleaning the keys themselves.
How do I get into safe mode?
To get into the Windows 2000 / XP Safe mode, as the computer is booting press and hold your “F8 Key” which should bring up the “Windows Advanced Options Menu”. Use your arrow keys to move to “Safe Mode” and press your Enter key.
I can’t delete a file because it is being used by Windows?
Close all programs running on the computer and try again. If after closing all programs running on the computer you are still encountering the same issue when attempting to delete files, load the computer into Safe Mode and delete the files.
How can I update my Microsoft Windows computer?
If you are running Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, or a later version of Microsoft Windows, you are eligible to update Microsoft Windows, and in some cases, your computer hardware with the latest drivers through Microsoft’s update site, visit http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.
Is it safe to turn off a Windows computer without doing a shut down?
Users should not simply press the power button or restart the computer while Windows is still running unless there is an issue with the computer. Microsoft has included the shut down feature because it enables a computer to go through all the all the necessary steps that are required before turning off the computer. In fact many versions of Microsoft Windows will check the computer for any problems if the computer is not shut down properly.
How can I recover a file from the recycle bin?
Double click the recycle bin icon on your desktop, here you will see all of the files within your bin. Select the files you wish to recover, right click and choose restore.
I am unable to send or receive email?
Verify that your computer is able to see the Internet and/or other computers to ensure that your computer is not encountering a connection issue, which would be causing your e-mail issue. Ensure that your Internet e-mail server or your Network e-mail server is not encountering issues by contacting either your Internet Service Provider or your Network administrator.
I can’t receive any email attachments?
If the e-mail box is full of other e-mail messages and/or your storage space is only a few megabytes it’s possible that the attachment being sent cannot be received. Often if this problem is occurring the person sending the e-mail should get a response back from your e-mail server indicating that your mailbox is full and/or has exceeded its allocated size. Because computer viruses and other malware are best distributed through e-mail, many e-mail service providers, companies, and e-mail programs prevent certain types of file extensions from being distributed or received through e-mail. For example, Microsoft Outlook protect its users by automatically disabling certain file extension types from being received in e-mail.
Are spaces allowed in email addresses?
Just like an Internet URL no spaces are allowed in an e-mail address. However, names can be broken up using a period; for example, John Smith may have an e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com because no spaces are allowed in the e-mail address.
My printer is printing smudged/distorted pages?
When printing on untraditional paper your printer may experience smudges, un-even or crooked text, and/or text that runs off the edges of the paper. Your printer may be printing fuzzy, blurry, and/or other faint text because of dirty print heads. All modern printers have some type of printer cleaning, self-test, and/or diagnose mode that can be performed to check and clean the printers print heads and other internal equipment used to print.
How do I fix a paper jam?
Turn off the printer. Inspect the location or tray the printed paper ejects to. If the stuck paper is visible manually remove it. Remove all paper trays and any paper that may be stuck between the tray and the printer. If the stuck paper is visible manually remove it. Open the printer door that allows you access to the printer ink cartridges or toner and look for any stuck paper. If the stuck paper is visible manually remove it. Turn the printer back on.
I lost my printer installation disk, how can I install my printer?
Thankfully a missing printer installation disk or disc is not the end of the world and will not require you to wait until a new diskette or CD can be sent to you. Today all printer and other hardware manufacturers are providing downloads on the Internet to their software programs and drivers that are included with their products.
I can’t connect to my network drive anymore?
Verify that the network cable is properly connected to the back of the computer. In addition, when checking the connection of the network cable, ensure that the LED’s on the network are properly illuminated. For example, a network card with a solid green LED or light usually indicates that the card is either connected or receiving a signal. Note: generally, when the green light is flashing, this is an indication of data being sent or received.
How do I map a network drive?
Open Microsoft Explorer. From Explorer, click the Tools drop down menu and click the option “Map Network Drive.” Specify the network drive or network computer as the folder. If the computer’s name was hope, to map to that computer, type \\hope If you wished to map to a shared folder on the hope computer such as a mp3 folder, you would type \\hope\mp3. If a different username or login is required to connect to this computer or drive it must be specified in this window before clicking the finish.
How do I determine my computer’s name?
Right-click My Computer. Click Properties. In the Properties window, click the Computer Name tab. Within this tab you’ll be able to see the full computer name, workgroup and also a description. If you wish to change the name or workgroup, click the Change button.
What is a computer virus?
A computer virus is a software program that has been intentionally created to cause a user grief, spread to other computers, or destroy data on an individual’s computer. To help prevent a computer from becoming infected by a virus, software developers have developed anti virus programs that stay active on the computer helping to protect it. It is important to realize that many computers do not come pre-loaded with these already installed and that if computers do come with these programs, the programs may expire within 90 days.
Does Windows come with a virus protection program?
All versions of Microsoft Windows do not come pre-installed with a virus protection program. This includes: Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista.
Can a virus damage computer hardware?
No. Computer viruses are software code designed to spread to computer files and other computers, delete files, and cause other problems with the data on the computer. So if you’re experiencing an issue with a hardware device such as your printer, video card, sound card, etc. it is not due to a virus.
If I format or erase my hard drive will it remove a virus?
If your computer is infected with a virus formatting or erasing the hard disk drive and starting over will almost always remove any type of virus. However, keep in mind if backups have been made that contain the virus, other media or drives connected to the computer have a virus, your computer is connected to another computer on a network with a virus, and/or the virus is stored on some other type of software you use with your computer it can become re-infected if not properly protected.
How do I delete Internet cookies?
Microsoft Internet Explorer users can go to tools and then choose ‘Delete browsing history..’, you can then choose to delete your Internet cookies.