Parts of a computer

If you use a desktop computer, you might already know that there isn't any single part called the "computer." A computer is really a system of many parts working together. The physical parts, which you can see and touch, are collectively called hardware. (Software, on the other hand, refers to the instructions, or programs, that tell the hardware what to do. The following illustration shows the most common hardware in a desktop computer system. !our system might look a little different, "ut it pro"a"ly has most of these parts. A laptop computer has similar parts "ut com"ines them into a single, note"ook#si$ed package.

%esktop computer system &et's take a look at each of these parts.

System unit
The system unit is the core of a computer system. 'sually it's a rectangular "o( placed on or underneath your desk. Inside this "o( are many electronic components that process information. The most important of these components is the central processing unit (CPU), or microprocessor, which acts as the ""rain" of your computer. Another component is random access memory (RAM), which temporarily stores information that the )P' uses while the computer is on. The information stored in *A+ is erased when the computer is turned off.

ardware that is not part of the system unit is sometimes called aperipheral device or device. -ystem unit Top of page Storage !our computer has one or more disk drives.Almost every other part of your computer connects to the system unit using ca"les. /ecause hard disks can hold massive amounts of information. . The hard disk drive is normally located inside the system unit. ard disk drive !our computer's hard disk drive stores information on a hard disk. holding almost all of your programs and files. they usually serve as your computer's primary means of storage.devices that store information on a metal or plastic disk. The disk preserves the information even when your computer is turned off. typically on the "ack of the system unit. . The ca"les plug into specific ports(openings .a rigid platter or stack of platters with a magnetic surface.

That way. !ou can also use a )% drive to play music )%s on your computer. you can store copies of your files on "lank )%s. If you have a recorda"le disk drive. if your hard disk ever fails. usually located on the front of the system unit.. also called floppies or diskettes. you won't lose your data. )ompared to )%s and %2%s. floppy disks can store only a small amount of data. )% drives use lasers to read (retrieve data from a )%3 many )% drives can also write (record data onto )%s. If you have a %2% drive. you can watch movies on your computer.ard disk drive C! and !"! drives 0early all computers today come e1uipped with a )% or %2% drive. $loppy disk drive 4loppy disk drives store information on floppy disks. )% %2% drives can do everything that )% drives can. #ip • If you have a recorda"le )% or %2% drive. +any %2% drives can record data onto "lank %2%s. They also . plus read %2%s. periodically "ack up (copy your important files to )%s or %2%s.

+ouse A mouse usually has two "uttons8 A primary "utton (usually the left "utton and a secondary "utton. Pointing and clicking with your mouse is the main way to interact with your computer. "ut that's 7ust the sleeve. although some computers still include them. It's small. 4or these reasons. o"long. a pointer on your screen moves in the same direction. The disk inside is made of a thin. 4loppy disk 5hy are these disks called "floppy" disks6 The outside is made of hard plastic. . fle(i"le vinyl material. 5hen you want to select an item. the typical mouse does look a "it like an actual mouse. 4or more information. +ouse pointers 5hen you move the mouse with your hand. you point to the item and then click (press and release the primary "utton. see Using your mouse. floppy disk drives are less popular than they used to "e. (The pointer's appearance might change depending on where it's positioned on your screen.retrieve information more slowly and are more prone to damage. -ome newer mice are wireless. Top of page Mouse A mouse is a small device used to point to and select items on your computer screen. +any mice also have a wheel "etween the two "uttons. and connected to the system unit "y a long wire that resem"les a tail. Although mice come in many shapes. which allows you to scroll smoothly through screens of information.

such as the arrow keys. "ut it also has special keys8 • The function keys. it has keys for letters and num"ers. Top of page Monitor A monitor displays information in visual form. allow you to move your position within a document or we"page. • • 9ey"oard !ou can also use your key"oard to perform many of the same tasks you can perform with a mouse. The navigation keys. .Top of page %ey&oard A key"oard is used mainly for typing te(t into your computer. /oth types produce sharp images. using te(t and graphics. seeUsing your key&oard. "ut &)% monitors have the advantage of "eing much thinner and lighter. allows you to enter num"ers 1uickly. There are two "asic types of monitors8 CR# (cathode ray tu"e monitors and the newer 'C! (li1uid crystal display monitors. found on the top row. The numeric keypad. &ike the key"oard on a typewriter. a computer screen can show still or moving pictures. perform different functions depending on where they are used. &ike a television screen. The portion of the monitor that displays the information is called the screen. located on the right side of most key"oards. 4or more information.

The two main types of printers are ink(et printers and laser printers. They can print in "lack and white or in full color and can produce high#1uality photographs when used with special paper.&)% monitor (left 3 )*T monitor (right Top of page Printer A printer transfers data from a computer onto paper. Ink7et printer (left 3 laser printer (right Top of page Speakers -peakers are used to play sound. invitations. . "ut having one allows you to print e#mail. cards. and other material. Ink7et printers are the most popular printers for the home. They can "e "uilt into the system unit or connected with ca"les. &aser printers are faster and generally "etter a"le to handle heavy use. -peakers allow you to listen to music and hear sound effects from your computer. +any people also like "eing a"le to print their own photos at home. !ou don't need a printer to use your computer. announcements.

"ut higher#speed modems are usually separate components. A modem is a device that sends and receives computer information over a telephone line or high#speed ca"le. +odems are sometimes "uilt into the system unit. you need a modem. )a"le modem .)omputer speakers Top of page Modem To connect your computer to the Internet.

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