How Does A Computer Work?

Information on how a computer works

How the Computer Works

When you press down the 'On' button on your computer it sends an electrical signal to the processor telling your computer to turn on. When the on button is pressed the processor will open everything that is needed to run the computer like the software and some additional programs. The User is the one that controls the computer and presses buttons that will send signals to the processor. The Motherboard is the home for the processor and connects it to the rest of the computer, the Motherboard also holds the RAM. The big metal box case is used to keep everything inside like the fan, motherboard, the power supply and some cables.

How the System Works

If the user speaks into a microphone to record their voice, the recording would have to get processed by the processor, when the processor processes everything it will save straight to the hard drive. The processor would look for possible places to store the recording then it will send a signal to the monitor saying that you have an option to save the file in different places, the options would include the desktop, computer library, personal files folder etc. From there you will be able to open up your recording and run it on a program that allows you to listen to it. For that program to work, the processor would have to do more processing to open up the program and to open the file on that program so you can listen to your file. When you load up the file, you can plug in your headphones or speakers to listen to it, those devices are what you call output devices and the microphone would be an input device. The software used for your computer to load the sound file will send lines of code to the computer to help your computer learn how to run the file and how to make it function properly.

Computer System Breakdown

The User

The user is the person that makes the computer do things like when the user presses a button on their mouse and keyboard, it send a signal through the computer to the processor then the processor tells the computer what to do and how to do it. Whenever the user clicks on a button the mouse will send a signal to the processor on how to click that button.

CPU (Central Processing Unit)

The CPU is the brain and processor of the whole computer, it processes everything that happens. The CPU is the one that does all the thinking for the computer and tells it what to do.

The Motherboard

The Motherboard is the main circuit board in a computer. The Motherboard contains the CPU, memory, mass storage interfaces, expansion slots, controllers etc. The controllers on the motherboard are used to control peripheral devices like a display screen, keyboard and disk drives.

The Operating System

The Operating system (also known as OS) is the software that runs on a computer. Its job is to manage the computers memory, processes and all of its software and hardware. Operating systems usually come preloaded onto any computer that you buy. Most people use Operating systems that come with their computers. Examples of operating systems are Macs, Windows and Linux.

The Power Supply

The power supply is a metal box that is usually found in the corner of the case. The power supply is visible from the back for most systems because the power supply contains the power-cord and the cooling fan. The typical voltages supplied are 3.3 volts, 5 volts or 12 volts.

RAM (Random Access Memory)

RAM or Random Access Memory is a type of computer memory that is accessed randomly. RAM is the most common type of memory found in computers and other devices, such as printers. RAM chips continue to store information only as long as a computer has electrical power, meaning when you shut down your computer all the information stored in RAM are lost. Computers store all their data and read a code made up of 1s and 0s.

Input, Output and Storage

Input devices are devices that you can plug into your computer so it can send information to the main device and power whatever you are trying to plug into the computer. Output devices send things out just like music to headphones and speakers or videos to monitors and projectors. Storage devices are used to store things, some examples of a storage device would be a USB or and External Hard drive.


Computer softwares can be apps or things that can manage your computer system, most softwares can be downloaded or installed from a disk. Software can be purchased or acquired as shareware, liteware, freeware, public domain software, and open source. Shareware is usually intended for sale after a trial period. Liteware is like shareware just with less capabilities. Freeware is free software but with copyright restrictions. Public domain software is free with no restrictions. Open source is a software where the source code is furnished and users agree not to limit the distribution of improvements. Examples of computer softwares are things like Photoshop, Skype, VLC Video player, Microsoft powerpoint, Microsoft word etc.

About the CPU

How a CPU Works

Inside A Computer

Inside your computer - Bettina Bair

What Is RAM

What is Random Access Memory (RAM)

About Input and Output Devices

Input Output Devices