Many have pictured computer systems as having human or superhuman traits. Such views tend to exaggerate certain computer capabilities. The computer has also been described to be dumb machine since it is dependent entirely on those who control it. Use the wrong or faulty program, or use the wrong or inaccurate data, and you will get the wrong answer. The computer cannot think for itself. What is can do is extend man's problem-solving capabilities by performing many arithmetic, logic, branching and input/output instructions with lightning speed. It is powerful tool for extending man's brain power. It may be rightly called an intelligence amplifier.
Computers can enlarge man's brainpower because of the following capabilities and properties which had lead to the human or superhuman images created about it.
1. Ability to Perform Certain Logic Operations. Computers are symbol manipulators. It can manipulate in logical ways letter, numbers, words, sentences, mathematical expressions and other symbols to which people have giving meaning. It is able to perform a simple comparison and then, depending on the result, follow one of two or more predetermined branches or courses of action. This simple ability to compare is an important computer capability because more sophisticated questions can be answered by using combinations of comparison decisions.
2. Ability to Provide New Time Dimensions. The computer works one step at a time; it adds and subtracts numbers; it multiples and divides numbers; and it can be programmed to perform other mathematical operations. What is significant is the speed with which the computer can perform them. The computer is so fast that is saves a tremendous amount of time.
3. Ability to Store and Retrieve Information. The computer stores in internal storage both facts and instructions. The ease with which instructions can be changed gives the computer great flexibility . The access time required for information to be recalled from internal storage and be available for use is measured in microseconds or more precise units. Few machines that are used by man have this stored program ability.
4. Ability to control error. It has been estimated that a person would make one error in every 500- 1000 operations with a desk calculator. A computer can performed hundreds of thousands of arithmetic operations every second and can run error less for hours and days at a time.
5. Ability to Check Itself. Computers have the ability to check its own work. By a method known as parity checking, computers check on data when they enter storage, when they are moved internally, and when they leave in the form of output. The parity check performed by the computer involves the examination of each character's code to determine whether bits have been added or lost by mistake