How Does a Computer Work?

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  • A personal computer (PC) is culmination of many different parts geared for the same goal; which is to allow you to perform tasks on the computer. Whether typing documents, keeping up with personal accounting, sending emails, browsing the internet, making an inventory of household items or performing business functions, a computer does these functions plus so much more.

  • When looking at the computer, you will notice the basic parts--the PC tower, monitor, keyboard and mouse. You may have other peripherals, such as speakers, webcam, printer and more, but this article will only focus on the basic components that are needed in order to get your computer running.

  • Inside the PC tower are many major components. Most PC users never see, or even know, that they are there. One of the main components is the motherboard. The motherboard is used as the main circuit board and connects all of the other parts of the computer. It is how all the other components know what they should be doing and when they should be doing it.

  • Then there is the power supply. Just like its name, it is used to supply power to the tower. Next is the hard disk, which is used as a permanent storage container and holds information such as documents and programs you save on the computer. There is also a Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Bus and it houses slots for any additional items that you will need to add internally to the computer. Because all these things working together can heat up the motherboard, there is also a fan connected inside to cool the components down.

  • Other items inside of the PC tower are a processing chip, sound card, graphic card, modem, RAM, floppy drive and CD/DVD Rom drive. These are just components that are installed inside of the computer. You can also connect things to the external part of PC tower; this is how the monitor, keyboard and mouse connect and communicate with the motherboard.

  • After all of this hardware is put to work, now the computer needs an operating system that serves as an interface so the user can send commands to the computer to carry out. Most people used graphical user interface software like Windows or the Macintosh OS system. Still, there are people who like to use command software like MS-DOS and UNIX systems.

  • So, what does happen when you hit the power button on your computer? The power supply gives power to the motherboard. The software connected to the processing chip, the BIOS goes through the task of checking all of the hardware components. If new hardware has been added since the last time you ran the computer, it can pick on that also and install the right type of drivers for the component. The BIOS then starts loading all of the necessary components, such as the video card, sound card, keyboard, mouse and RAM before it initializes the operating system. It allows the operating system to take over once your computer passes the necessary amount of hardware and software checks.

  • The operating system has it own sets of tests and things to load before you are reading to start playing on the computer. It manages the processor, memory, devices, storage and other applications. Whenever you open another instance of software, such as Word or Internet Explorer, it is the operating system that checks for the program and loads it from memory.

  • From there your operating system provides your other software programs and you are able to progress as you normally would. Remember, while you are typing that email or shopping online, there are a lot of components inside the computer making it possible.

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