Beginner's Article: A Computer's Hardware
In our modern society the computer is an integrated and depended upon resource. Because they have been in our homes for quite awhile now many companies and individuals alike think that humans are "born" with computer knowledge. If you are age 25 or younger this may metaphorically be true but for the rest of us computers can be a challenge.
I am going to cover the bare basics of your computer here. It is going to cover the Hardware of your computer (Hardware meaning the hard items you can touch, pick up, and manipulate. Software on the other hand is referring to the programs on your computer...you can't touch these per se. Examples are Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel etc.).
Your Computer's Hardware & Its Parts:
Your computer is comprised of 4 major parts we all know (this is not including printers, camera docks,etc) : the monitor, tower, keyboard, and mouse. The keyboard and mouse will not covered in this article because if you didn't know what they were you wouldn't be reading this!
The screen you are looking at right now is the monitors function. It shows the visual data from your computer. A few key words related to your monitor are resolution and viewing size. Resolution refers to the shape and size of your monitors screen and how it processes the pixels which comprise the visual data you see in front of you. If you have a large screen then you will have more resolution (ability to process more amounts of visual data) than a smaller monitor. For instance, if you visit a website with a smaller monitor you may have a scroll bar appear at the bottom. You would move this bar to the right to be able to see the whole screen. Whereas if you view the same site with a larger monitor that scroll bar will not appear because you have a larger pixel resolution and see more data. Viewing Size is a term related to how big your monitors screen is. It is measured diagonally. Take a ruler or measuring tape and hold one end to the top right of the screen and finish measuring at the bottom left of the screen. You should come up with a number like 14.9 or 16.9. 14.9 means you have a 15 inch viewing size screen. 16.9 means you have a 17 inch viewing size screen.
The tower takes on several different names such as CPU, Hard Drive, or just Computer. Technically the "tower" is the case that holds your computers brains (I DO NOT recommend opening the case to see what I am referring to!). This is the outer box of your computer. Inside of the tower there are a lot of wires, circuits, and foreign looking items. We are only going to cover the essentials. The actual "brains" of your computer are screwed inside the tower and it is called the "motherboard". If you have ever seen the inside of a computer you have seen it - it is the largest item in there. On this motherboard sits a chip called the "CPU". CPU stands for Central Processing Unit. Technically it is the "brain" that runs the motherboard and controls the technical settings of your computer. It is a small chip that is usually placed in the middle of the motherboard. If you happen to open the case and want to see what I am talking about DO NOT touch or manipulate this chip - you WILL ruin your computer!
There are other parts that connect to the motherboard which are removeable and be changed out when they "go bad". Your Sound Card (how you get sound from the computer to your speakers) is connected to the motherboard and can be replaced when it goes out. Your Ethernet card (connects your computer to the internet via a special phone line that plugs in the back of the computer to your wall or DSL modem) is connected to the motherboard and can be replaced also. Your computer's memory connects to the motherboard too. These can all be replaced by novices but I must warn you - talk to a professional first to find out the correct tools to use. One static charge from your hand without being "grounded" can short out your computer and it will be un-useable!
This article should give you some basic knowledge about your computer's hardware. If you wish to learn more this should give a foundation for further research. Next time we'll cover Software so stay tuned!
Kellee is the owner of MontanaPA which is a freelance Web Design and Personal/Virtual Assistance firm located in Montana. For years being called out on Computer Tutor calls she came to realize that although the newest generation is extremely computer savvy, the rest of us aren't nearly as fluent! Knowing how wonderful computers can be in our lives, she has set out to write articles which are geared toward the Baby Boomer generation with computer explanations that are easy to understand. Her hope is that she can explain computers and their abilities in such a way as to excite this generation and show what fabulous possibilities await once they are understood!