Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
What Is a Computer?
What Is a Computer?
Computers have become essential tools in almost every type of activity in virtually every
type of business. A computer is defined as an electronic device that accepts input,
processes data, stores data, and produces output. It is a versatile tool with the potential to
perform many different tasks.
A computer system includes a computer, peripheral devices, and software. The physi-
cal components of a computer are referred to as hardware . The design and construction of
a particular computer is referred to as its architecture , or configuration . The technical
details about each component are called specifications . For example, a computer system
might be configured to include a printer; a specification for that printer might be a print
speed of eight pages per minute or the capacity to print in color. The computer itself takes
care of the processing function, but it needs additional components, called peripheral
devices , to accomplish its input, output, and storage functions. In this tutorial, you will
learn more about the hardware that performs these basic computer functions.
Software refers to the intangible components of a computer system, particularly the
programs , or lists of instructions, that the computer needs to perform a specific task.
Software is the key to a computer’s versatility. When your computer is using word process-
ing software—for example, the Microsoft Word program—you can type memos, letters,
and reports. When your computer is using accounting software, you can maintain infor-
mation about what your customers owe you or display a graph showing the timing of cus-
The hardware and the software of a computer system work together to process data—
the words, figures, sounds, and graphics that describe people, events, things, and ideas.
Figure 2 illustrates how you and the computer system interact to complete a task. Suppose