In modern life, whether it is personal or professional, the computer has become an integral part. It has become one of the necessities in everyday life. In the old era, a person used to do computation work. But in the modern era, it means the automated electronic machinery. The computer age started from analog mechanisms.
The first computer was built up based on mechanical operation hence it lacked the facility of memory or storage capacity. It was used for numerical calculations. Later on, based on the need and curiosity to further explore the usage, the electronic machinery was developed, which then rapidly grew to a different level of inventions.
Different types of Computer Hardware
- Monitor: Monitor is a display part of the computer. It shows converted output in pictorial form. Older monitors were made of Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) or cold-cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlighting. Monitor is used for data processing and it is connected to computer via VGA, Digital Visual Interface (DVI), HDMI, DigitalPort, etc. The monitor and TV runs on the same principle and nowadays both are easily exchangeable as advanced features come along with both the computers and TV’s. As the new improved technology kept on coming the CRT was replaced by Liquid-Crystal Display (LCD) screens. Nowadays it is very common to find LCDs for monitors as well as TVs.
- Motherboard: A motherboard is a component providing electrical connections for the communication of the computer system. Usually, a motherboard consists of a microprocessor, main memory, and other necessary components such as external storage and audio and video controllers. Motherboard typically has
- Memory slots
- Clock generator
- Expansion cards
- Hard drive connectors
- Flash ROM
- Power connectors
Since the inclusion of Integrated Circuit (IC) in computer technology, the prices have gone down and it was possible to add new external features to the computer system. All these external features can bridge together on one PCB giving the advantage of reduced cost.
- CPU (Central Processing Unit or CPU): Also called central processor, main processor, or just processor. Modern CPUs consist of a microprocessor in which the CPU is contained on a single metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) integrated circuit (IC) chip. Over the years the designs of CPUs have changed but the core function has remained the same. The principal component of typical CPU include the ‘arithmetic logic unit, (ALU) that perform the arithmetic and logic operations, operands supplying processor registers and store the results of ALU operations, and a control unit. There are different types of CPU’s built over the years.
- Transistor CPU’s
- Small-scale integration CPU’s
- Large-scale integration CPU’s
- Expansion Cards: Also known asadaptor card, expansion board, or accessory card which can be inserted into an electrical connector. One edge of the expansion card holds the contact that fits into the slot. This will establish the electrical contact between the electronics on the card and the motherboard. The number of expansion cards that can be connected at a time is based on the model of the computer system. Around one to seven expansion cards can be mounted to the computer system and 19 or more can be installed on the backplane systems. The more the expansion cards installed there will be limitations on the operating system of the computer.
- Power Supply Unit: Every computer system will need a power supply. No desktop or laptop can operate without the power or charged battery. You may be able to use the laptop on battery power but the duration entirely depends on what work you are doing on it. Battery charging is again is a must to use a laptop again. The network of computers usually requires UPS so that no data is lost due to sudden power interruption. Nowadays, though an inbuilt function is available to restore the work done before sudden power failure of battery exhaust.
- Main Memory (RAM): Storage of required data has become very essential and there are many ways of storage. Typically the fast but small and expensive storage options are put close to the CPU and slower but less expensive and larger options are put away. Fast volatile technologies are known as ‘memory’ and slower technologies are known as ‘storage’. A modern computer system represents data by using the binary numeral system. Any character like text, number, photos, audio, or any form of information is converted into ‘bit’. The most common unit of memory is ‘byte’ and equals to 8 ‘bits’. There are different forms of storage as
- Primary storage
- Secondary storage
- Tertiary storage
- Off-line storage
Volatility, Mutability, Accessibility, Addressability are some of the characteristics of the storage.
- Optical Disc Drive: It allows one to use CD’s DVD’s, and Blu-ray discs to listen to music or watch a movie. The drives also allow you to write your data on it. These CD’s are blank CD’s and using the write option on the computer system, one can create his own music CD’s or Video CD’s. optional disk drive comes with two options usually, ‘Tray Load Drive – Disk is placed in motorized tray, and Slot Load Drive – in which the disc is placed in a slot and motorized roller pull or push the disk. The types of optional disk drives are CD-ROM (Compact Disk), CD-R or CD-RW (CD writers, burners, or recorders), DVD-ROM (Digital Versatile Disk), DVD+/-RW (DVD writers), and Blu-ray (high-definition display capabilities)
- Mouse: A Computer mouse is a ‘computer-aided display control’. The name is given because of its typical resemblance to the shape and size of a mouse. It is an external device used for the smooth and easier operation of the computer specifically while designing the graphics. The forward-backward movement ability and faster pointer rolling gives an advantage to the computer technology. This saves a lot of time wasted during scrolling up, down, or sideways using arrow buttons as it can directly be moved to the desired cell or point on the monitor. The right-click, left-click, single, double, or triple-click functions also help increasing productivity. The work that otherwise would have looked tedious becomes smooth and easy.
- Hard Disk Drive (HDD): A hard disk drive is a fixed electromechanical data storage device. It stores the digital data using magnetic storage and one or more platters with magnetic coating (rigid and rapidly rotating). The capacity and performance are the major characteristics of the hard disk drive. Capacity is specified in terabytes (TB) or gigabytes (GB). 1 gigabyte is equal to 1 billion bytes. The capacity is used by the file system or the computer system for inbuilt error correction and recovery. The latest HDD’s record data by using a magnetized thin film of ferromagnetic material. The HDD design consists of a spindle that holds the platters with recorded data. The desktop HDD with the most capacity known is 16 TB in 2019.
- Keyboard: The keyboard of the computer has a similar array as that of a typewriter but with some advanced additional keys. While most of the keys on keyboard performs the function of typing text or numbers, some specific keys or combination of keys used together gives some specialized results and (for example ctrl+alt+del) to execute commands which can give different desired outputs. Over the years the type and size of the keyboard have not considerably changed. The reason for this can be to optimize the usage while using it at a desired speed. It needs to be understood that the size of keys must be easy to type and more compact keyboards can create difficulty in typing as the fingers might not be able to get to the correct keys.
Drawbacks of the Computer Hardware
Since the computer hardware is a physical part of the system, it is understood that there will be wear and tear after usage of a particular period. The almost every day changes in technology makes one wander for the need of his comparatively older version of machine parts. The keyboards, the mouse one cannot repair nowadays due to changing technology. Then it has to be purchased as a new one, provided it is compatible with your relatively older system. If one thinks of the scrap generated due to non-usable, non-compatible spare parts, it is huge. Issues in the performance of monitors or printers are either beyond repair or costs almost much as the new one. Thus the computer hardware is expensive in general though the total cost is going down with improvisation in technology.
Refilling of a printer cartridge is very costly and the maintenance of it also requires an expert person to attend. Even a small damage due to mishandling can cost you bigger. Depending upon the usage of thee printer its performance varies. One has to often face problems of black lines on the printed paper or paper getting jammed in tray.
If you have trouble with the motherboard then it is better to replace the system rather than trying to repair the issue.
Computer hardware is equally important as computer software. Both complement each other perfectly. Without one the other is of no use. The only difference is the people who handle hardware and the people who handle software possess different knowledge. It cannot be said that the hardware problem can be solved by a software engineer and vice versa.
The usage of computers has gone to such a level that it can be noted that all cannot have in-depth knowledge about the computer hardware but at least one must know the basic things about the hardware he is using.