To accomplish a task using a computer, you need
a combination of hardware, software, and input.
Hardware consists of devices, like the computer
itself, the monitor, keyboard, printer, mouse and
speakers. Inside your computer there are more bits
of hardware, including the motherboard, where you
would find the main processing chips that make up
the central processing unit (CPU).
The hardware processes the commands it
receives from the software, and performs tasks or
Software is the name given to the programs
that you install on the computer to perform
certain types of activities. There is
operating system software, such as the Apple OS
for a Macintosh, or Windows 98 for a PC. There is
also application software, like the games we play
or the tools we use to compose letters or do math
You provide the input. When you type a command
or click on an icon, you are telling the computer
what to do. That is called input. An input
device lets you communicate with a computer. You
can use input devices to enter information and
issue commands. A keyboard, mouse and joystick are
So, a computer collects processes, stores and
outputs information. A storage device holds
information. The computer uses information stored
on these devices to perform tasks. The hard drive,
the tape drive, the floppy disk and the CD Rom
drive are storage devices.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the
main chip in a computer. The CPU processes
instructions, performs calculations and manages
the flow of information through a computer system.
The CPU communicates with input, output and
storage devices to perform tasks.
An output device lets a computer communicate
with you. These devices display information
on a screen, create printed copies or generate
sound. Monitor, printers and speakers are
output devices. First, you provide input when
you turn on the computer. Then the system software
tells the CPU to start up certain programs and to
turn on some hardware devices so that they are
ready for more input from you. This whole process
is called booting up. The next step happens
when you choose a program you want to use. You
click on the icon or enter a command to start the
program. If you decide you want to print the page,
you click on the printer icon. Again, you have
provided input to tell the computer what to do.
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