WHAT  IS  A  COMPUTER?


The computer is primarily made up of 1 Monitor, 1 Keyboard, 1 Mouse and 1 Base Unit. Just the same as a Bicycle is made up of 1 Chain, 2 Wheels and so on. The base unit, which is also known as a Tower or Desktop) is made up of the other computer components such as the Hard Drive, DVD Player, Memory, Power Supply and USB Sockets. It is exactly like a bicycle in the fact that when one major component fails the whole thing fails. For example: A bicycle is useless if the chain snaps or a tyre punctures. With a computer, if the Hard Drive fails you have no Windows 10. If the Memory fails you have no computer. And so on.

Core Computer Components Explained

Fig 1.0 - The Base Unit

The keyboard has changed over the years. Before it was just a tool to type letters with, but these days with a keyboard being used to search the Internet buying a keyboard is more about comfort, language and design. Meaning: If you are going to be typing for long periods of time, are standard hard-keys going to hurt your fingers? Perhaps you would prefer soft-keys. Is the keyboard's cable going to be too long, in the way and look ugly? Perhaps you need a wireless keyboard. Do you need special characters on the keyboard for use with another "foreign" language? Other features of a modern keyboard include USB Sockets, Audio/Video Keys, Internet Keys and Programmable Keys.

Core Computer Components Explained

Fig 1.1 - The Wireless Keyboard

The mouse has also changed over the years. Before it was just a tool to navigate with, but these days with a mouse being used more for games and with a web browser buying a mouse is also more comfort and design. Meaning: If you are going to be clicking away for long periods of time, is the standard oval shaped mouse going to hurt your palm? Perhaps you would prefer a more contoured palm-fit/hand grip designed mouse. Is the mouse's cable going to be too long, in the way and look ugly? Perhaps you need a wireless mouse. Do you need special gaming features on the mouse? Other features of a modern mouse include Mouse Gestures, Programmable Keys and the ability to work with other hardware/software to perform special functions.

Core Computer Components Explained

Fig 1.2 - The Wireless Mouse

The monitor (display device) has also changed over the years. Before it was just a tool to view spreadsheets and websites on, but these days with a monitor being used more for games, the Internet and other entertainment buying a monitor is more about size, connectivity, touch and the visual experience. Meaning: If you are going to be looking at the screen for long periods of time, is the standard close-up monitor going to hurt your eyes? Perhaps you would prefer a larger, wall-mounted, flat screen that is a meter or so away from you; that can double up as a television as well as be connected to the computer. The two main features of a modern monitor are HDMI Connectivity and PC Connectivity.

Core Computer Components Explained

Fig 1.3 - The Flat Screen Monitor

With all of the above said: Today's desktop/tower computer is fast becoming an all-in-one device, in different shapes and sizes, whereby the base unit also has a monitor screen, cd player, power supply, usb sockets, wireless connectivity, Windows 10 installed on its hard drive and so on. Many of them have touch technology screens. Tablets are another form of the all-in-one device. People will still need a computer though to do other jobs besides checking e-mail and searching the Internet.

Core Computer Components Explained

Fig 1.4 - The ALL-IN-ONE Computer


The next three sections will explain what the common components are, and what they do, so you know what is what. Before I explain them though you need to know some Terminology (Jargon) first.

HARDWARE  /  SOFTWARE  /  PROGRAMS  /  TASKS

Hardware is the terminology used to describe the physical components of a computer, such as the Hard Drive, Floppy Drive, Sound Card, Graphics Card, Modem, CD Player and so on.

Software is used to describe the files needed to make the Hardware work correctly. For example: A Printer Driver CD contains all the files needed to make the Printer, that came with the CD, work with Windows 10. Software is also used to describe a collection of files that work together to make one piece. For example: Microsoft Office is a collection of files that work together to allow you to do different things, such as Type Letters, E-Mail, Create Stationary and so on.


A Program is one piece of software that does a specific job for you. For example: Microsoft Office has one program called WORD (for Word Processing), one program called EXCEL (for Accounting) and one program called Access (for Databases). Together they are called Software (or a Software Package), but each piece of software on its own is called a Program. So WORD is one program that does all your word processing and EXCEL is one program that does all your accounting.

Each program is split into jobs known as Tasks. For example: WORD has a word processing task, a printing task, a spell checking task and so on. Sometimes a program can do one task at a time and sometimes it can do more than one task at a time. WORD, for example, allows you to type a letter whilst it is printing something. This is known as Multi-Tasking because it is doing two or more jobs (tasks) at the same time.