Hardware vs. Software

  • Hardware is the physical equipment directly involved in the performance of data-processing or communications functions.
  • Software is the programs, routines, and symbolic languages that control the functioning of the hardware and direct its operation.

Definition of a computer

  • A computer is a programmable machine that stores, retrieves, and processes information
  • A Personal Computer is a general-purpose computer equipped with its own microprocessor, designed to run commercial software

Types of Computers

Super Computer

  • Used primarily by government, industry, and research
  • Possesses huge amounts of computing power and multiple CPU’s (Central Processing Unit)
  • Main Frame
  • Used by large businesses such as banks, airlines, insurance companies to store and manipulate large amounts of information.
  • Capable of multiprocessing
  • Usually networked with minicomputers and/or workstations
  • Personal Computer (PC) a.k.a. the microcomputer, desktop
  • Designed for a single user and consists of its own CPU, input/output units, and power supply


  • Possesses many of the same features as a PC in a portable size
  • Many components in the laptop are designed to be smaller without sacrificing performance
  • Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
  • Used as personal organizers, word processors, email, internet access
  • Embedded computers
  • Used as control components in industrial equipment such as appliances and cars (controlling lights, buttons, and very small graphics screens (odometer))
History of the Computer

The silicon chip

  • Every computer contains silicon chips
  • The silicon chip has increased the speed that computers can perform tasks
  • Computers can perform an operation in a trillionth of a second or perform millions of calculations
  • Silicon has also decreased significantly in size and cost over the years.
  • As a result, computers today are much smaller, faster, and cheaper than they were 20 years ago

The Personal Computer

The tower case

  • The tower case houses the brains of your computer and all the necessary devices to process and store information.
  • It contains (among other things) a case, a motherboard, a CPU, a hard drive, a modem or network card, and sockets for any other devices you wish to connect to your computer system.
History of the Computer


  • When purchasing a computer, it is important to know what you are buying.
  • The following is a list of important specifications that should be considered when purchasing a computer.
  • Processor speed
  • The speed at which the CPU is able to perform calculations
  • Measured in megahertz (MHz) – 1 million cycles per second
  • or gigahertz (GHz) – 1 billion cycles per second


  • Temporary memory used to store files currently in use
  • Measured in Bytes – (MB, GB)

Hard drive

  • Amount of storage space for data – Measures in Bytes (Mega, Giga, Terra)
  • Cache
  • memory available for short-term storage of information during processing.
  • cache allows users to work on larger files without crashing
  • System bus
  • The speed of the connection between components
  • Measured in megahertz (MHz)

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