Lesson 2: What is a Computer?
What is a computer?
A computer is an electronic device for dealing with information and data. It has the ability to store, retrieve and process information and data in record time. A computer can actually be used to surf the web, send e-mail, play games and write documents. You can also use it to edit and create spreadsheets, presentations, and even videos.
Watch the video below to learn about the different types of computers.
Looking for the old version of this video? You can see Computer Basics: What is a Computer?.
Hardware vs. software
Before we start explaining the different types of computers, let's clarify two things that all computers have in common: hardware and software.
- Hardware It includes any part of your computer that consists of a physical structure, such as a keyboard or mouse. It also includes many internal parts of the computer, which you can see in the image below.
Software is a set of instructions that tell the hardware what to do and how to do it. Some examples of software include web browsers, games, and word processors.
Everything you do on your computer will depend on hardware and software. For example, since you are now watching this lesson in a web browser (program) and using your mouse (device) to click and move from one page to another. When you learn about different types of computers, ask yourself what is the difference in these devices. As you learn and progress through this tutorial, you will see that different types of computers also sometimes use different types of software.
What are the different types of computers?
When some people hear the word computer, they start thinking of a personal computer such as a desktop or laptop computer. However, most computers come in many different shapes and sizes, and they help with many different and varied functions in our daily lives. When you withdraw some money from an ATM, buy groceries from stores, use websites, or use a calculator, you are using a computer and its types and sizes may vary.
Desktop computersMany people use desktop computers at work, home and school. Desktop computers are designed to be placed on a desk, and they consist of several different parts, which are the computer case, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and some accessories may increase upon request.
A second type of computer that you may be using is a laptop computer, and it is called a netbook. Laptops are computers that are designed to operate on batteries and are portable due to their light weight, ease of portability, and lack of parts, unlike desktop computers, which makes it easier for the user to use them almost anywhere and at any time.
The third type of computer is tablet computers - or tablets - which are portable computers more comfortably than laptops. Without a keyboard or mouse, touch-sensitive screen tablets are designed for typing, browsing, performing calculations, and more with complete ease. And the iPad is a great example of a tablet idea.
A server or dedicated server is a computer that provides services and information to other computers on the Internet. For example, hosting websites, applications, and managing services. When you use an Internet service, you are searching for something that is hosted on a server. Most companies use servers for their own websites and files to be easy to share internally.
Other types of computers
Many of today's electronics are basically specialized computers, though we don't always think of them that way. Here are a few common examples.
- Smartphones: Many cell phones can do a lot of things computers can do, including browsing the Internet and playing games. They are often called smartphones.
- Wearables: Wearable technology is a general term for a group of devices—including fitness trackers and smartwatches—that are designed to be worn throughout the day. These devices are often called wearables for short.
- Game consoles: A game console is a specialized type of computer that is used for playing video games on your TV.
- TVs: Many TVs now include applications—or apps—that let you access various types of online content. For example, you can stream video from the Internet directly onto your TV.
PCs and Macs
Personal computers come in two main styles: PC and Mac. Both are fully functional, but they have a different look and feel, and many people prefer one or the other.
This type of computer began with the original IBM PC that was introduced in 1981. Other companies began creating similar computers, which were called IBM PC Compatible (often shortened to PC). Today, this is the most common type of personal computer, and it typically includes the Microsoft Windows operating system.
The Macintosh computer was introduced in 1984, and it was the first widely sold personal computer with a graphical user interface, or GUI (pronounced gooey). All Macs are made by one company (Apple), and they almost always use the Mac OS X operating system.