The parts of your computer

Computers are made up of many parts. These different parts perform one or more functions including input, output, processing, or storage.


Output devices send information from your computer to you. This information is usually in the form of sound and sight, but some devices can send information as touch and even as smell! Some common output devices are monitors, printers, and speakers.



Input devices are the parts that let you enter and manipulate information on a computer. These devices range from the standard keyboard and mouse, to scanners, microphones, joysticks, and light pens.


There are some devices that can input and output. Some examples would touch screen monitors (input by touch, output by sight) and force feedback joysticks.


The inside of your computer has many parts that all work together. These parts are generally found within your computer case - this is usually the big "box" that probably sits under your desk or below your monitor. If you're using an iMac, many of the computer parts are built into the monitor case.

The motherboard [shown at right], or mainboard, is the backbone of the computer. All the individual pieces connect to the motherboard in some way. The motherboard is home the processor chip, pci slots, and memory.

Processor - This is the chip that does the "thinking" of the computer. These are the "Pentium" and "AMD" chips you hear about. Processor speed is measured in MegaHertz(Mhz) and GigaHertz(Ghz). 1 Ghz = 1000 Mhz

Memory - This is where information is temporarily stored for the processor to use and manipulate before storing on the HARD DRIVE. Also known as RAM (Random access memory). Information is stored in memory only when the computer is turned on. Ram is measured in Megabytes(Mb), which is storage capacity, not to be confused with MegaHertz, which is speed.

PCI Slot - These are outlets in the motherboard that allow you to install extra components like sound cards, modems, video cards, and other devices. The images below show different PCI card components.


Hard Drive - This is the part of your computer where information is stored for later retrieval. All the information you access on your computer, all your documents, pictures, email messages, and programs are here. Unlike memory, the hard drive stores information even after the power is turned off. The image to the right shows the inside of a hard drive.

Floppy Drive - This is the slot in the front of your computer where you insert a disk to store data and move it to another computer. If your computer is an iMac, you will not have a Floppy Drive. Floppy disks are 3¼ inches in size, and hold 1.44Mb of data. The images below show a floppy drive, and some floppy disks.


CD ROM or DVD ROM Drives - This plays your music and data cd's, or if you have a DVD drive, it will also play DVD movies. Data CD's hold up to 700Mb of information. If you have a CD-R or CD-RW drive, you can store your own information on CDs.