Computer hardware!

A quick guide to how your computer works


  • Drives
  • Input/output
  • Monitor
  • CPU
  • Motherboard
  • Touch Screens


A drive is the way hardware communicates with programs installed on the computer. There are three types:


Inputs are where the user inputs information on keyboards, mice, buttons and microphones etc. Outputs are the way a computer 'puts out' information. Some examples of outputs: printers, monitors, speakers etc. IO devices are devices that can be inputs or outputs, for example a digital camera or USB stick.


A monitor or visual display unit is a user interface which displays information in a visual form, using text and graphics. There are three main types or monitor: CRT, LCD and plasma screen.


Random access memory (RAM) is a type of computer memory which is volatile, meaning if your turn the computer off it loses all data. It provides space for your computer to read and write data. When people refer to a computer's memory, they usually mean its RAM. If you add more RAM to your computer, it usually allows your computer to work considerably faster, as RAM is many times faster than a hard disk. Read only memory (ROM) ia another type of memory but it is non-volatile. Almost every computer comes with a small amount of ROM containing the boot firmware. The boot firmware allows your computer to start up and start uploading the memory onto the RAM.


A Central processing unit (CPU) is the brains of the computer where all the calculations take place. The faster the CPU, the faster the computer. Intel is the largest producer of CPU's, a current intel CPU can perform up to 2,400,000,000 calculations per second.


As its name may suggest, the motherboard is one of the most important parts of a computer. It ties all the pieces of your computer together by allowing them to communicate with each other and supplys power to them. It is a big circuitboard with all the key components of a computer on it.

Touch Screens

Touch screens are a relatively new innovation. It is an IO device which acts as a control for the device as well as a monitor. Touch-screens are very popular among phone manufacturers. Touch-screen phones can cost anything from £30 to £600. Apple uses high-quality touch-screens in all of their OS devices.