Monday, October 19, 2009

A Very Basic Explanation of how Computers Work

The computer is easily the most important object in the modern day. Whether it's a PC, MAC, iPod, Nintendo Wii, or even a PS3, all computers operate in the same manner. Unfortunately, the average consumer doesn't understand even the purpose of the most basic components of a computer. So with the new computer and laptop model releases right around the corner (I'm picking up my first computer in less than a week!!!) I figured it would be appropriate for me to write out a very basic explanation of how every computer works.

While writing this, I'm going to keep two very important things in mind. First, long explanations are boring and unnecessary. Second, I need to write from the point of view of someone who knows absolutely nothing about computers. So let's get to it!

All computers are made up of the same basic components which interact with one another to perform the overall function of making the computer work. These parts are:
  • The motherboard
  • The processor
  • The RAM
  • The hard drive
  • The video and sound cards
The motherboard is the main or central part of all computers. Every part of the computer is connected to the motherboard in some way. Motherboards determine what type of processor you can have as well as what and how many inputs (USB, PS2 ports etc.) you can have on your computer.

The processor is the "brain" of the computer. The processor reads and executes all of the code it receives. The faster your processor is, the faster things happens. The more cores your processor has, the more information it can simultaneously process (again, the faster it can go).

The random access memory (RAM) of a computer temporarily holds information the computer needs. For example, your computer's RAM is currently holding your entire internet browser. While information is held in the RAM, the processor can more quickly access it. My dad has a simple explanation of why more RAM is better which I'll quote here: "The more RAM your computer has, the more computer programs you can have running at a good speed at once."

The hard drive is the storage unit of the computer. All of your save files, mp3s, videos, and pictures are stored on the hard drive to be accessed when the computer wants them (ie: When you tell the computer to get them)

The video and sound cards of a computer are parts that output video and sound signals to the monitor and speakers respectively.

All of these different parts work in unison in every computer to provide a user friendly experience. This explanation was aimed at being an extremely simple "ground level" explanation of how computers work so everyone is starting at the same the level for when I get more into how computers work later.

1 comment:

  1. hi..Im student from Informatics engineering, this article is very informative, thanks for sharing :)