Hardware and software

Computer systems are now commonplace in every part of our daily life. This chapter introduces the basic components that make up these computer systems; most of these will be described in much greater depth in later chapters. Comparing books with computers is a good analogy: the actual pages and the ink used on the pages are equivalent to the hardware used to make up these computers; the words written on these pages are equivalent to the software. Without the words, the book is useless. Similarly, without software, computers would be of little use to any of us. 

Hardware is a general term for the physical components that make up a computer system, for example, keyboard, mouse, monitor, processor, circuit board, and so on. 

Software is a general term for the programs that control the computer system.

There are two types of software:
  • Systems software: programs that allow the hardware to run properly, e.g. operating systems
  • Applications software: programs that allow the user to do specific tasks, e.g. spreadsheets.

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