Computer | Definition, History, Types & Components With Generations


What is the definition of a computer?

A computer is an electronic device that is used to store data for later use. It is also used to process and retrieve data.

Different computer system performs different tasks. When humans used mechanical calculators like the abacus and numerical calculations, the name "computer" was first applied to them.

Computer Overview


A computer is used to store data for later use. It performs arithmetic and logical operations. Owing to their adaptability and programming capabilities, computers can perform a wide variety of activities.

History of Computers

Early computers, such as the ENIAC, were only found in companies, academic institutions, or government buildings. They were big sometimes almost room size and ran on vacuum tubes.

After that, transistors were smaller, and less expensive parts were used in system, making them affordable to the general public.

Components of Computer

There are different components of computer systems such as:

Hardware: The physical components that we can see or touch.

Storage Devices: The devices that are utilized to store data. The data is kept on file for later use.

Input devices: A device that is used to enter data. For example mouse, keyboard, mike etc.

Output Devices: A device that is used for output. For example speaker, printer, monitor, etc.

Type of Computer Description Example Functions
Supercomputer Extremely powerful system used for complex calculations Weather forecasting, scientific simulations, cryptography
Mainframe Computer Large and powerful systems used in enterprises Bulk data processing, transaction processing, database management
Minicomputer Mid-sized computers are less powerful than mainframes but more than personal system Manufacturing process control, scientific research
Workstation High-performance computer used for technical or scientific work CAD (Computer-Aided Design), 3D graphics rendering
Personal Computer (PC) General-purpose computers for individual use Word processing, internet browsing, gaming
Laptop Portable personal computer Mobile computing, on-the-go productivity
Tablet Portable touchscreen computer Media consumption, mobile applications
Smartphone Mobile phone with advanced computing capability Communication, apps, internet browsing
Embedded Computer Specialized embedded within a device Home appliances, automotive systems, industrial machines
Server A system that provides data or services to other system Hosting websites, managing network resources
Gaming Console Specialized computer for playing video games Gaming, media streaming
Hybrid Computer Combines features of analog and digital computers Medical devices, scientific instruments

Parts of Computer

Here are the common parts of the computer:

Part Description Example Functions
Bay An enclosure that houses various storage devices Holds hard drives, optical drives, etc.
Case or Chassis The outer shell of the computer Protects and holds all internal components
Case Fan Cooling device for the case Helps regulate the temperature inside the case
Optical Drive Reads and writes optical discs Blu-ray, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, or DVD
CPU (Central Processing Unit) The brain of the computer Executes instructions and processes data
Floppy Disk Drive Legacy storage device Reads and writes floppy disks
Hard Drive Data storage device Stores operating systems, applications, and files
Keyboard Input device Allows users to input text and commands
RAM (Random-Access Memory) Volatile memory Temporary storage for data being used by the CPU
Microphone Audio input device Captures sound
Monitor LCD Display device Visual output for the system
Motherboard Main circuit board Connects all components
Mouse Pointing device Allows users to interact with the computer's interface
Network Card Network connectivity device Connects to a network
Power Supply Provides power to the system Converts electrical power to the correct voltage and current
Printer Output device Prints documents and images
Sound Card Audio processing device Manages audio input and output
Speakers Audio output device Produces sound
Video Card Graphics processing unit Render images and video
Wearable Body-worn device Smartwatches, fitness trackers

Types of Computer Systems

Types of computer

A desktop or laptop system is typically what comes to mind when most people hear the word. On the other hand, it work in our daily lives in a wide variety.

Desktop Computer: Desktops are widely used in offices, homes, and educational settings. It has a monitor screen, keyboard, mouse, etc. 

Laptop Computer: A type that is easily carried from one place to another. It is available in small sizes and has a battery for running laptop. 

Server Computer: A system that servers other systems. One approach to constantly read content that is kept on a server is when utilizing the Internet. Enterprises also widely use local file servers for internal file sharing and storage.

Mini Computer: It is Mid-sized and is less powerful than mainframes but more than personal systems. Its function is Manufacturing process control and scientific research.

Super-Computer: It is an extremely powerful system used for complex calculations. Its function is Weather forecasting, scientific simulations, and cryptography. 

Hardware Vs Software 

Hardware vs Software

Hardware: The physical parts of the system are called hardware. We can see or touch such as the keyboard or mouse.

Software: It tells hardware what to do. Without software, hardware is not usable. For example windows, linux, unix, macOS, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1: What are the names of devices that are used to input data?

Ans: Here are some common names of devices that are used to enter data:

  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Touchscreen
  • Scanner
  • Microphone
  • Joystick

Q2: What are the main components of a computer system? 

Ans: The main components are as follows:

  1. CPU
  2. Keyboard
  3. RAM
  4. Storage Device
  5. Input Device

Q3: What are the types of software that are different from one another?

Ans: Here is the difference between hardware and software:

Aspect Hardware Software
Definition Physical components of a system Programs and operating systems running on hardware
Nature Tangible and physical Intangible and digital
Examples CPU, RAM, hard drives, keyboard, monitor Operating systems (Windows, macOS, Linux), applications (Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop)

Q4: What are the differences between types of software?

Ans: Here are the differences between system software and application software:

Aspect System Software Application Software
Purpose Manages hardware and provides a platform for running applications Performs specific tasks for end-users
Scope Essential for the functioning of the system Enhances user productivity and performs specialized functions
Installation Installed during the setup of the operating system Installed separately after the operating system installation
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