Friday, February 25, 2005


In this system, memory is a sequence of numbered cells, each containing a small piece of information. The information may be an instruction to tell the computer what to do. The cell may contain data that the computer needs to perform the instruction. Any cell may contain either, and indeed what is at one time data might be instructions later.
In general, the contents of a memory cell can be changed at any time - it is a scratchpad rather than a stone tablet.
The size of each cell, and the number of cells, varies greatly from computer to computer, and the technologies used to implement memory have varied greatly - from electromechanical relays, to mercury-filled tubes (and later springs) in which acoustic pulses were formed, to matrices of permanent magnets, to individual transistors, to integrated circuits with millions of capacitors on a single chip.