What is the RAM?


by Miriam Tocino

Imagine that you come to school one day and you have no memory. How would that look like? Probably you'd feel very confused, you wouldn't know who you are or what you need to do!

In the last episode, especially when your computer needs to make some math. But, as smart as it can be, the CPU has no memory!

And that's where the RAM or Random-access memory steps in. It holds the data and instructions the CPU needs to do its job and, without it, the CPU would be completely lost.

zerus and ona welcome to our world

Artwork from our new book Welcome to our World, 0s and 1s at the RAM

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • What the RAM is
  • How the RAM stores bits and bytes
  • A brief history of it

Let's begin with some computer basics for kids!



What is the RAM?

The Random Access Memory or RAM is the place in your computer that temporarily stores the data (or information) that is being used by running programs at any given moment.

We like to say that the RAM is volatile, which means that, when your computer shuts down, all the data that we stored is lost and there's no way to get it back.

Watch out - this can have terrible effects for you if you haven't saved any changes in your work recently!

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

How does the RAM store bits and bytes?

Eight is the minimum amount of bits that the RAM can work with. And, in The Binary World, eight bits is called a byte! Your computer's memory contains many millions of bytes.

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

To make humans' lives easier, the unit K (for kilobytes) can be used to express the memory's capacity. One K is the same as 1,024. For example, 32K bytes of memory equals 32,768 (1,024 × 32 = 32,768) bytes.

When we need to store bigger amounts of information, we like to use bigger units too, like Mega and Giga.

  • One megabyte equals 1024 kilobytes or 1,048,576 bytes.
  • One gigabyte equals 1024 megabytes, or 1,073,741,824 bytes. 

A Brief History

There was a time, in the first generation of computing during the 1960s and 1970s, when RAMs weren't made out of microchips as they are today. Machines used punch cards instead to store data and process information. 

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

Hooray-bits! You just learned what the RAM is, how the RAM stores bits and bytes, and a brief history about it.

 

Now, it's exploration time!

You already know that we love telling stories, but we want to see yours too! We prepared some drawings and cutouts to help you start creating your own adventures in The Binary World.

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

 

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Greta (4) and Oliver (5) creating their own adventures in The Binary World 

We can't wait to see what you create - please email your creations at hello@zerusandona.com or tag us on social @zerusandona.

Remember, understanding computers is a superpower. So, keep on learning!

Lots of Megas from The Binary World,

Zerus & Ona

 

P.S. If you liked this episode, please share it with your friends to help us reach Gigas of kids! Share this episode on Twitter. Share this episode on LinkedIn. <3



Complement your reading with what is a microchip, what are bits and bytes, and how parents can support schools in computing education.

 

Want to learn more about computers?

Have a look at the Zerus & Ona collection - our books teach computer basics for kids with adorable characters, fun adventures, and a hands-on approach for parents and educators. Visit the shop!