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What is hardware? 

Hardware is essentially the physical components of a computer system – the parts that you can touch and see. Hardware enables us humans to perform a variety of functions such as input, output, storage, communication, and more. A motherboard, CPU, keyboard, and monitor are all examples of hardware. 


What is software? 

Software is basically a collection of instructions that controls a computer. It is not a physical thing, you cannot touch it, it is just a bunch of codes. An operating system such as Windows XP or Mac OS X, applications such as Microsoft Word, and the instructions that control a robot are all examples of software.


So what is the difference between hardware and software? 

Computer hardware refers to the physical components that comprise a computer system. Without software to run on it, hardware is useless.


Software is a set of instructions that instructs computer hardware on what to do. Software is useless unless it can be run on hardware.


A computer system must include both hardware and software in order to be useful.


What is a CPU? 

You might have heard the term ‘CPU’, ‘Microprocessor’, or ‘Chip’ a few times, but do you actually understand what they exactly mean? Imagine the CPU as the ‘brain’ of a computer, it is the device that carries out software instructions. The Pentium processor made by Intel is an example of a CPU. CPUs usually plug into a large socket on the main circuit board (the motherboard) of a computer. They get very hot when they are operating so usually have a large fan attached to their top to keep them cool. 


What are input and output devices? 

Input devices are devices that pass data into a computer. Examples of input devices include mice, keyboards, and webcams. They all take information from the outer world and input it into the computer. 


Output devices are devices that take data from the computer. Printers, monitors, and speakers are all examples of output devices. 


What are ROM and RAM? 

Random access memory also known as RAM is part of a computer that temporarily stores data and instructions. RAM is volatile memory meaning that once you turn off the device all the components of RAM disappear and are lost. When a computer is in use, its RAM will contain the operating system software, application software currently being used, and any data that is being processed. 


Read-only memory also known as ROM is used in computers to store the ‘boot up’ program. When the computer is turned on, or ‘boots up,’ this software runs. The software examines the computer’s hardware before loading the operating system. ROM is a type of non-volatile storage. This means that even if the power is turned off, the data it contains is never lost.


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