A personal computer (PC) is a computer that is made to suit the computing needs of a person. It may be a desktop computer, a laptop computer or a tablet computer.
A PC can be divided into two main components; hardware and software.
Hardware makes the physical components of a personal compute. They may be electronic, magnetic, mechanical or electrical in nature. Various hardware components of a PC are described below:
§ Computer Case and Power Supply
A computer casing generally made of steel, aluminum or plastic is the enclosure which encapsulates its main parts and acts as a protective layer.
Power cord, switch, and cooling fan make the power supply components of a personal computer.
§ CPU – Central Processing Unit
The central processing unit or CPU of a PC instructs the computer hardware through execution of instructions which is done by the microprocessor it contains. These microprocessors are incorporated in the motherboard sockets.
The motherboard is the main circuit board to which many components of the computer are connected directly or indirectly. It is also called system board or main board. In portable PCs mother board comprises of core components of the PC.
A secondary daughter board is sometimes connected to the main board for expansion purposes.
§ Internal Storage (Memory): Memory can be divided into 2 basic types:
1. Primary Memory
Primary/ Main Memory (RAM & ROM) Main memory of a personal computer is the storage that a CPU can access directly. It stores the currently running programs and cashe.
RAM stands for random access memory. It is basically a semiconductor and is available in different sizes ranging from MBs to GBs.
Characteristics of a main memory are its speed and volatility. Also it is expensive than secondary storage devices.
2. Secondary Storage
Secondary memory comprises of the mass storage devices that store on permanent basis. Examples are dark disk and flash drives, former being the prevalent secondary storage.
Other removable storage includes floppy disk, compact disk (CD), digital versatile disk, blu-ray disk, USB flash drive and tape disk.
§ Optic Disc Drives
Optic devices are the devices that read or write data to and from secondary storage devices like floppy, CD and DVD etc. Floppy Drive, CD- ROM Drive and DVD-ROM Drive read data from a floppy, CD and DVD respectively. Whereas a CD Writer and DVD Writer both read and write data to and from a CD and DVD respectively.
§ Expansion Cards
Functionality of a personal computer can be enhanced by using an expansion card. It comes in the form of a printed circuit. Other names for an expansion card are expansion board, adapter card or an accessory card.
§ Networking Devices
Networking devices are used for connecting a PC to other PCs or internet. Modem and network card examples of network devices used for connecting a PC with internet whereas direct cable connection is an example of one used to connect a PC with other PCs.
§ Peripheral Devices:
External or peripheral components of a PC can be divided into two type of devices:
1. Input Devices
Input devices are used for input of data into the computer in the form of text, sound and image etc. Keyboard, mouse, microphone and scanners are examples of input devices.
2. Output Devices
Output devices are those components of the PC that give resulted or processed data in the form of image display, text, sound etc. Examples include monitor, speakers and printers.
Computer software is the logic on which the computer operates. It is a set of instructions that enables the hardware to perform the intended functions on users’ requirements.
Mainly there are two types of computer softwares:
1. System Software
System software or system software is an interface between the hardware and the application software that enables the hardware to work on the directions given by the user using application software. It performs tasks like memory allocation, resource allocation and resource utilization effectively. A typical example of the system software is operating system. Commonly used OSs are Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Solaris and PC-BSD.
2. Application Software
Application software is the one that is made to perform specific tasks without going into programming details needed to directly interact with the computer. It has a user friendly interface and is increases our work ability. Word processors, spreadsheets, and media players are fine examples of application software.