Introduction to Computing Systems: From bits & gates to C & beyond, now in its second edition, is designed to give students a better understanding of computing early in their college careers in order to give them a stronger foundation for later courses. The book is in two parts: (a) the underlying structure of a computer, and (b) programming in a high level language and programming methodology.
To understand the computer, the authors introduce the LC-3 and provide the LC-3 Simulator to give students hands-on access for testing what they learn. To develop their understanding of programming and programming methodology, they use the C programming language. The book takes a "motivated" bottom-up approach, where the students first get exposed to the big picture and then start at the bottom and build their knowledge bottom-up. Within each smaller unit, the same motivated bottom-up approach is followed. Every step of the way, students learn new things, building on what they already know. The authors feel that this approach encourages deeper understanding and downplays the need for memorizing. Students develop a greater breadth of understanding, since they see how the various parts of the computer fit together.