A computer is an electronic device that stores, retrieves, and processes data, and can be programmed with instructions. A computer is composed of hardware and software, and can exist in a variety of sizes and configurations. Hardware is the physical equipment of a computer system, including the central processing unit (CPU), data-storage devices, terminals, printer, etc. Software is a program or set of instructions or rules that control the operation of a computer.
The most obvious hardware component is the computer case. The case is where size comes into play. A bigger case allows more room for components. A bigger case is most often used for servers. For basic home computing needs, a ...view middle of the document...
The CPU is the “brains” of the computer. It is responsible for reading the instructions and data from the main memory in order to perform calculations and coordinate the other components. It interprets instructions and processes data contained in computer programs. The actual CPU is about 1.5 inches square. Today, some of the more widely used CPU’s are made by Intel and known as Pentium 1 through Pentium 4.
This information and instructions for the CPU are stored in Random Access Memory (RAM). This memory is the next hardware component for a bare bones PC referred to as the main memory. The CPU has direct access to any instructions for programs to be executed that are in the main memory and only in the main memory. The main memory is volatile which means it can only store data or instructions when the computer is powered on. The device that stores data when the PC is powered off is the hard drive. It is the computers primary method of storage. Another way it stores memory is through the floppy drive. This form of memory is removable.
In order to store something in the main memory, it must first be input through the keyboard or mouse or other input device. A keyboard is designed to enter text, numbers, or punctuation. It is the main input device on most PC’s. The mouse is a pointing device used to select, point, and click on a computer screen. The keyboard and mouse are used to send information to the CPU. This information is translated through other devices called output devices such as the monitor. This is the most commonly used device for displaying text and graphics on a computer. This display is made possible by the video display card that is found on the motherboard which is what the monitor plugs into. It is an adapter card that displays digital signals on the screen in the form of images. The video display card contains necessary circuitry to create a video signal that can be processed by a computer display. There are many different types of video cards with varying capabilities regarding monitor size supported and total number of displayable colors. All these input and output devices are connected to the I/O card.
All of the hardware components are put into action through software. There are two types of software. One type is system operating software which control, support and manage overall operations. An example of this is Microsoft Windows. The second type is application software which enables users to manipulate data into info. An example of this is Microsoft Office.
There are other components that can be added to a PC but are not necessary for the computer to operate properly. A common extra is the CD-ROM drive. ROM stands for read only memory. This drive allows you to store large amounts of data for a long period of time. There are two other similar types of storage devices. One kind is the CD-R where “R” stands for recordable. This kind can only record data once. The second kind is CD-RW. In this case the RW stands for...