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What is a Computer?
A computer is a machine, but so is an electric washing machine. So, how do you
explain to someone what is a computer?
Computers are fast and reliable machines that receive, store, and use
information and instructions given to them. Any machine that contains a
microprocessor can be classified as a computer.
A computer consists of four major components: input devices, output devices, storage devices and
processing devices. Input devices allow a user to put data into the computer. Output devices display the
data that the computer has or the information that the computer has processed. Here are some examples
of both input devices and output devices.
Input Devices
Output Device
Robotic Arm
Storage devices are devices that store data. Examples of storage devices are hard disk drives, flash drives
(Solid State Drives), USB memory sticks, floppy disks, CDs, DVDs, and magnetic tape. Processing
occurs in the microprocessor of a computer found in a single computer chip or multiple computer chips.
Without the microprocessor, the computer would not be able to run the programs, not even start-up.
A computer also has memory. There are two types of memory in a computer: Random Access
Memory (RAM) and Read-Only Memory (ROM). RAM is temporary memory in a computer that holds
the software and other input data in use. When the computer is turned off, anything held in RAM
automatically disappears. ROM is permanent memory in the computer. It may hold instructions for a
computer chip or device. When the computer is turned off, the instructions in ROM are still there ready
to be executed or ran the next time the computer is started.
©2009 ConEdTech
What is a Computer?
1) What is a good definition of a computer? (see paragraph 2)
2) List three examples of computers that a regular student would not ever think of classifying as a
3) What are the four GENERAL components that make up a computer?
4) List two examples of input devices and two examples of output devices. Make sure to tell if it is an
input device or output device by putting a big "I" for Input or "O" for Output before the example.
5. List three examples of storage devices.
6. What are the two different types of memory?
7. Which memory would hold information on it even after the power has been turned off?
©2009 ConEdTech