Boy Scouts of America Troup 152 Computing Merit Badge Requirement 1

Below is an approximate summary of requirement 1. Be sure to check the official set of requirements in effect.

Requirement 1: Give a short history of computers. Describe the major parts of a computer system. Give 4 different uses of computers.

Give the counselor a 1 page answer to the above. Use the materials given below.


The best online history of computing has been produced at Virginia Tech. Also produced there is a fun way to learn about the history: an online computer history museum.

You can find more on history in an online book, POCA, Principles of Computer Architecture. See pages 1-4 of POCA.


Though there are many types of computers, varying in size and cost, all have the same basic classes of part. Regarding those parts of a computer, see pages 4-6 and 12-13 of POCA. You also should use's online glossary to look up:
  1. input
  2. output
  3. RAM and mass storage
  4. processor
  5. PC
  6. minicomputer
  7. workstation
  8. mainframe
Feel free to explore more terms in the encyclopedia as well as links from there to other Web sites.


Regarding uses, you will work with several in requirement 4 and requirement 5. Computers may be in your car, microwave, the telephone system, and television. They can help in many situations, where fast processing is required, or where something needs to be remembered and then used again. They are used in school, business, government, and industry. Just in business alone, they are used for payroll, accounting, advertising, inventory control, sales reporting, many types of manufacturing, managing personnel, training, communication (email, presentations, reports), etc. In school they are used to prepare the books and handouts you get, to schedule your classes, to prepare your grade reports, and to help manage the money that covers teachers and supplies.

Use the glossary to look up:

  1. application
  2. office automation
  3. accounting software
  4. CAD/CAM
  5. engine simulation
  6. 3D animation