Hardware and Software

Written by Rosie Fielden

What is hardware?

Computers have parts and pieces of equipment that we can see and touch - we call these items hardware.

Examples of hardware include:

What is software?

As well as hardware, computers also include software; this describes something in a computer that you can't touch.

Operating systems, such as Windows 8, are also examples - these are versions of software that support the computer's basic functions.

Examples of software are:

How can I tell the difference?

It is usually relatively simple to tell whether something is hardware or software. Just ask yourself this question: Is this a physical item that I can touch? If you can, then it is hardware, and if you can't, then it's software.

Why do we need hardware and software?

Both hardware and software play a vital part in allowing us to use and interact with our computers.

The hardware inside a computer is what makes it work, and it also gives us the power to control what our computers do - without the computer mouse, it would be a lot harder to click and interact on the screen, and we wouldn't be able to see what was happening without a monitor.

Software, or computer programs, are also essential; in basic terms, computer programs are a set of instructions that allows us to interact with our computers, so without it, our computers wouldn't be able to carry out any of the tasks needed for us to surf the internet or put together a document in Word.

Where else can I find hardware and software?

Hardware and software are not just part of computers; they are also in tablets and mobile phones, or more advanced 'smart phones'. There are some problems though - for example, a phone is forced to have a slower processor due to the heat that is released, as it is relatively small, whereas a computer's processor can run much faster. The software, though, is becoming more and more advanced, with many apps and games available to download and a GPS service installed on most smart phones.

How could hardware and software advance in the future?

Hardware and software has advanced greatly since the first mouse and the first computer program - so what's next?

It's predicted that, 2 or 3 years from now, most phones might be equipped with 4G, a very strong wireless signal that exists today, and 3D cameras, a function that is currently being developed included in some phones. In addition, it is believed that mobile phones will have better processing power and be able to perform more advanced computing functions.

What are storage devices?

Storage devices are pieces of hardware that computer information can be stored in.

Examples of storage devices include:

What are input and output devices?

Input and output devices are items of hardware. While input devices are used to send data to computers, output devices convert the information generated by the computer back into something we can understand.

Examples of input devices are:

Examples of output devices include: