Home Technology The Different Parts of a Computer and Their Uses

The Different Parts of a Computer and Their Uses

by Oma Alidu

Parts of a Computer: Computer as a revolution left no area of life untouched in the present world. It is of tremendous help in all field of life. Hence, the knowledge of computer is a necessity for existence of everybody in this global village. The invention of computer has transformed our simple manual works to sophisticated life of automated works to meet the global demand for the higher productivity and increased efficiency with high precision.

Parts of a Computer

Computer is increasingly becoming compulsory in nearly all fields of studies, not because of anything
but its accuracy and versatility in processing data. Many tasks at home or office are being automated rapidly with computer.

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Thus it is becoming apparent that in whatever discipline or working sector, the computer is now
a very vital tool for efficiency improvement and precision of job or task execution.


Hardware is the term given to the physical components of a computer: e.g. keyboard, monitor, system box or floppy disk drive. Software, on the other hand, is electronic information: files, operating system, graphics, computer programs are all example of software. The difference between hardware and software reflects the duality between the physical and mental worlds: for example, your brain is hardware, whereas your mind is software.

Software is the stuff that makes your computer do things for you. The computer without software would be like a home entertainment system with no tapes, CD.s, or movies – you have the machine, but there’s nothing to play on it. Software is continually developed.

Each time the software maker (Microsoft, Adobe, Corel, etc) develops a new version of their software they assign it a version number. Before Microsoft Word 7, there was Microsoft Word 6.0.1, and before that Word 6.0. The larger the developments made to the software, the larger the version number changes. Usually a large change will result in a whole number upgrade; a small change may result in a tenth of a decimal place.

Hardware is those components or physical pieces (things you can touch) that make up the computer.
The different pieces of the computer’s hardware are monitor, speakers, mouse, CDROM, floppy drive, hard drive, keyboard, CPU, RAM, Processor, etc. Each piece plays a role in the operation of a computer.

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Different Parts of a Computer and Their Uses

The standard computer consists of a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse and the system unit. One can attach accessories such as printers and scanners by means of ports. Increasingly in the workplace, computers are connected to printers and other computers by means of a network.

The monitor

This is the Visual Display Unit (VDU). There are various technologies for the display unit, cathode ray tube (CRT) or Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) or electro luminescent screens or the projector. The monitor or screen displays your work. Facing it down reduces reflected glare from room lights. This reflection may affect your sight.

Monitors come in different sizes. The (most important) size of the monitor is measured diagonally on the screen (inches). Based on this, the monitors range in sizes of 12″, 14″, 15″, 17″, 19″, 21″, 29″, etc. Monitors are also characterized by the flatness of their screen. The flatter and the wider screens are usually the better.

The system box or computer console

The system box is where all the computations that the computer performs take place. Inside are the PU processor, the motherboard, the hard disk, any network or sound cards, memory chips (RAM), printer ports (at the back) and the drive bays for floppy disks, Zip disks or CDs. Outside the casings are the power buttons (ON/OFF and Restart) with some additional facilities like the casing USB ports, Webcams, etc.

The keyboard (Pressing)

This is the basic input device. It is one of the ways you can tell the computer what to do. It consists of the standard typewriter keys as well as a numeric keypad and function keys. You can use it to give the computer commands, name folders and files, and type text in word processing documents. The keyboard is made of three main categories of keys with each used for a different purpose.

i. Character Keys: These comprise of letters, numbers and the symbols. They are used to insert/display readable characters on the screen which is equivalent to the keystroke pressed.
Letters a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

ii. Action Keys: These are not used to type anything, instead they cause an action. Escape, Tab, Caps Lock, Shift, Control, Alt, Backspace, Enter, Windows, Win Menu, Print Screen, Scroll Lock, Pause Break, Number Lock, Insert, Home, Page Up, Delete, End, Page Down, Power, Sleep,Wake up, Up Arrow, Left Arrow, Right Arrow, Down Arrow, and Space Bar.

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iii. Application-Dependant Keys: These are called function keys. They are F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, F10, F11, and F12. Although the F1 key is usually used to get help while working in Microsoft Windows, the use of the other keys varies from one application to another. Eventually, the application you use will give you instructions on what to do and how to use the function keys.

Key Combinations

Some keys can be combined to produce uppercase letters or to access the upper symbols of some keys (i.e. the Shift and Control keys). Keys are also combined for many other reasons. In some situations, you have to press keys simultaneously, which means that you may be expected to press two or more keys at the same time, or almost at the same time. In some other situations, you may have to press and release one key, followed by another.


A shortcut is a quick action you ask a program to perform when you press one particular key or a combination of keys. Some shortcuts are universal or almost, that is, the computer responds regardless of what application is running.

Some other shortcuts depend on what you have on your screen. Some shortcuts are already known to the computer (as part of the operating system). Most other shortcuts are set by the programmer of the particular application you are using. Yet some applications allow you to create your own shortcuts.

Some shortcuts are readily obvious and can be seen from the main menu of the application. Some other shortcuts are either part of Microsoft Windows (or can be applied in your program) or are not easily displayed, you might have to search the Help documentation of the program you are using.

The Mouse (Clicking and Dragging)

This is another input device used to move a small white arrow pointer-the Cursor (but the shape will change depending on the context in which the mouse is being used) on the screen. By pointing and clicking you can carry out commands.

The computer may ask you to verify that you are sure to rename a file, by clicking on the .Ok. Button. A mouse is primarily made of three parts: the buttons, the handling area, and the sensor (rolling object or light). There are either one, two or three mouse buttons. By default, a mouse has two buttons: left and right. Most mice nowadays are also equipped with a wheel on top of the middle button called the Scroll Button.


Analog computer

These systems were the first type to be produced. It is an electronic machine capable of performing arithmetic functions on numbers which are represented by some physical quantities such as temperature, pressure, voltage, etc. Analog refers to circuits or numerical values that have a continuous range. Popular analog computer used in the 20th century was the slide rule.

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Digital Computers

Virtually all modern computers are digital. Digital refers to the processes in computers that manipulate binary numbers (0s or 1s), which represent switches that are turned on or off by electrical current. A bit can have the value 0 or the value 1, but nothing in between 0 and 1.

A desk lamp can serve as an example of the difference between analog and digital. If the lamp has a simple on/off switch, then the lamp system is digital, because the lamp either produces light at a given moment or it does not.

If a dimmer replaces the on/off switch, then the lamp is digital, because the amount of light can vary continuously from on to off and all intensities in between. Digital computers are more common in use and it will be our focus of discussion.

Hybrid Computer

This is when a computer make is of both analog and digital components and techniques. Such computer require analog to digital and digital to analog converter which will make analog and digital data palatable to it. The basic classification nowadays uses the following.

  • The Desktop

A computer is referred to as “desktop” when it is relatively small enough to be positioned on top of a table where a person is working. Such a computer can also be placed on the floor or somewhere under, or aside of, the table, in which case the monitor would be placed on top of the table.

This is the most common type of computers used in the office or at home. A desktop computer is made of different parts that are connected with cables.

  • The Laptop

A computer is called laptop when it combines the CPU, the monitor, the keyboard, and the mouse in one unit to be so small that you can carry it on your laps when traveling or commuting.

A laptop is also called a notebook. Other parts, such as an external mouse, an external keyboard, or peripherals such as a printer or a projector, can be connected to the laptop. A laptop is only physically smaller than a desktop but, everything considered, it can do anything that a desktop can do.

  • The Server

A server is a computer that holds information that other computers, called workstations, can retrieve. Such workstations are connected to the server using various means.

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