What is a Computer?

workstation computer
What is a Computer? 5

Computers are all around us, be it desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, game consoles or computer integrated systems in cars, aeroplanes, etc..

What is a computer?

A computer is an electronic device that process data into information.

The term computer was taken from the Greek word compute which means calculation and the computer is any device that did computation.

A computer is a machine or device that performs processes, calculations and operations based on instructions provided by a software or hardware program. It has the ability to accept data (input), process it, and then produce outputs.

Computers can also store data for later uses in storage devices, and retrieved it whenever it is necessary.

Modern computers are electronic devices used for a variety of purposes ranging from browsing the web, writing documents, editing videos, creating applications, playing video games, etc.

Computers are designed to execute applications and provide a variety of solutions by combining integrated hardware and software components.

A computer has two primary categories:

1. Hardware

computer hardware

Computer hardware are the structure that houses a computer’s processor, memory, storage, communication ports and peripheral devices. Each of these components (called devices) have a different purpose, which may be either accepting inputs, storing data or sending outputs.

For example, a mouse and a microphone are input devices used to record user activities and transform them into data that is transmitted to the system unit. A hard disk is a storage unit where data is stored and accessed by other devices.

A monitor or a speaker are output devices that transform processed data into (respectively) video and audio signals.

Usually, the core components that represent the bare minimum that allow a computer to function are:

Processor (CPU)

The component that processes and executes inputs received from hardware and software.


motherboard computer

A mainboard that provides basic connection between all the other hardware components and devices (internal and external).

Memory (RAM)

A temporary data storage space that stores the information the CPU is actively using.

Storage device

A storage device where data is stored on a permanent basis. It’s slower but less volatile than the RAM.

Power supply unit

That’s pretty self-explanatory: without power, no electronic device can work!

2. Software

computer software

Computer software are parts of a computer that are not strictly physical, such as data, programs, applications, protocols, etc., are broadly defined as “software.”

Computer software includes all executable and non-executable data, such as documents, digital media, libraries, and online information. A computer’s operating system (OS) and all its applications are software as well.

A computer works with software programs that are sent to its underlying hardware architecture for reading, interpretation and execution.

Computers are classified according to computing power, capacity, size, mobility and other factors, as personal computers (PC), desktop computers, laptop computers, minicomputers, handheld computers and devices, mainframes or supercomputers.

Njofie Alain

Alain is a tech enthusiast who loves exploring digital tools and platforms. His extensive work in the digital field has set him apart as one of the top digital marketing experts in Cameroon and Africa. He has exceptional copywriting and web development skills. He is Co-Founder and COO of Afritech Academy and loves writing about interesting topics in tech.