Chapter Twenty-Six

The Operating System

We have, at long last, assembled—at least in our imaginations—what seems to be a complete computer. This computer has a central processing unit (CPU), some random access memory (RAM), a keyboard, a video display whose memory is part of RAM, and some kind of mass-storage device. All the hardware is in place, and we eye with excitement the on/off switch that will power it up and bring it to life. Perhaps this project has evoked in your mind the labors of Victor Frankenstein as he assembled his monster, or Geppetto as he built the wooden puppet that he will name Pinocchio.

But we’re still missing something, and it’s neither the power of a lightning bolt nor the purity of a wish upon a star. Go ahead: Turn ...

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