What Are Computers
AskTheComputerTech.com - Learning Series
What Are Computers - A Brief Introduction
So what are computers anyway? In simple terms a computer is a machine that performs tasks and calculations
based off a set of instructions, or program operations.
Electronic computers were introduced in the 1940s and they were
huge machines that actually required a team of individuals to
In contrast to early computer systems, today's computers are
vastly smaller and amazingly powerful. Not only are they
thousands of times faster but they are small enough to fit on
your desk, on your lap, or even in a pocket.
In a nutshell computers work through an interaction of physical
hardware components and software instructions. Hardware is the
actual physical parts of a computer that you can see with your
eyes or touch with your hands.
Software is basically a
collection of code that makes up a computer program. The
hardware in turn carries out instructions by a computer program
on a complex level using electricity.
When talking about computers the most important piece of
hardware is a chip inside your computer called the central
processing unit, or in short a CPU. Microprocessor is also a
very common term used. Think of it as the "brain" of
your computer. Like your own brain it can translate instructions
and perform calculations.
Other hardware items such as a
monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, video card, sound card, or other physical piece
are often called hardware devices or even just devices for short.
When looking at software, it is the actual instructions, or
programs, that tell the hardware components what to do. Without software the hardware is essentially useless. A
computer game, word processing program, or Internet browser are
some common types of computer software.
Of course the most important piece of software for a computer
system is the operating system or also commonly called just the
OS for short. It is responsible for managing your entire
computer and all the devices connected to it. Popular operating
systems include Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OSX, and Linux
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