The term “hardware” refers to all devices or components that make up a computer. If you have ever opened the case of a computer or a laptop you have probably seen many of its components, such as the microprocessor (CPU), the memory, and the hard disk. A computer is not a device but a system of devices that all work together. The basic components of a typical computer system are discussed here.

  • The Central Processing Unit(CPU)

This is the part of a computer that actually performs all the tasks defined in a program.

  • Main Memory(RAM – Random Access Memory)

This is the area where the computer holds the program (while it is being executed/run) as well as the data that the program is working with. All programs and data stored in this type of memory are lost when you shut down your computer or you unplug it from the wall outlet.

  • Secondary Storage Devices

This is usually the hard disk, and sometimes (but more rarely) the CD/DVD drive. In contrast to main memory, this type of memory can hold data for a longer period of time, even if there is no power to the computer. However, programs stored in this memory cannot be directly executed. They must be transferred to a much faster memory; that is, the main memory.

  • Input Devices

Input devices are all those devices that collect data from the outside world and enter them into the computer for further processing. Keyboards, mice, and microphones are all input devices.

  • Output Devices

Output devices are all those devices that output data to the outside world. Monitors (screens) and printers are output devices.