Abstract It is important to introduce students, and in particular, Electrical Engineering students, to computer systems at an early stage of their courses, even when they will learn about computers “from the inside outwards” during their course. Experience in using computers in the context of student laboratory work is described. The computer is employed both as an adjunct to, and an integral part of, student experimental work. It is used to assist in the analysis of data, to model real systems, to assist in circuit design and to demonstrate digital operations on analogue waveforms. In final-year project work students build up systems in which a microcomputer or a single-board microprocessor is an integral part.