The personal computer revolution has dramatically changed all our lives forever. Over the past 20 years, with the decrease in hardware costs, increase in computational performance, and a seemingly endless supply of software products, computers have entered nearly every facet of our personal and professional lives. One of the best things about computers is that you don’t have to know how they work to make them work. However, we find that if you can understand just the basics (which isn’t too hard to do), you can better appreciate how computers can be applied to the field of radiology. With this in mind, the following pages review the basics of modern computers. We don’t discuss mainframes or minicomputers. Instead, our goal is to define the fundamental components of a microcomputer—known today as a PC or personal computer—which could easily function as a primary interpretation workstation. We also discuss important software concepts such as operating systems and programming languages. Finally, we describe how these products can be used by us (or our computer engineers) to create the holy grail of computing—the software application program.
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