If you’re like most people, computers are becoming a part of your life, and it helps to know how they work. They seem complicated inside, but by understanding just a few parts, you can see a simpler side of computers.
You’ve seen them. They come in all shapes and sizes, but work pretty much in the same ways. In fact, if you could look inside these computers, they’d have the same basic parts. It’s these parts, the hardware, that do a lot of the work in computers.
To explain, let’s look at something you already know, a house. One of the great things about living in a house is that you have room for all of your stuff. In fact, many houses have basements that become the perfect place for storing things you want to use later. And the bigger the basement, the more you can store.
The same thing is true for computers. Instead of boxes and bicycles, we need a place to store things like photos, music, documents, and software. In a computer, it’s not the basement, but a hard drive. A computer’s hard drive is where you keep all the things you want to use later. And like basements, the bigger the hard drive, the more you can store.
But basements aren’t perfect. Going to the basement takes too much time whenever you need something. Closets on the main floor can help. They’re small, and make things easier to access when you need them. You don’t need to go all the way downstairs.
It’s the same with computers. Some of the information stored on computers is hard for the computer to open quickly because it needs to take the long way. To solve this problem computers use RAM or Random Access Memory. It makes information easier for the computer to access. This means RAM makes computers faster. Plus, this kind of closet gets cleaned out every time you restart your computer.
Of course, houses have all kinds of parts that need to work together. It would help to have someone like a butler in the house making sure the house is always in working order. If it’s too hot, maybe the air conditioning needs adjustment. When it’s dark, lights are needed.
Computers need this too. Something has to make sure all the parts run smoothly. In computers, this is called the processor. It’s a tiny part that’s like the butler of the computer. It sends and receives information, completes tasks and puts the software to work. And the faster it can complete tasks, the faster your computer will be.
So, let’s review. The hard drive is like a basement. It stores all the things you need for later. RAM is like a closet on the main floor. It makes some information quick and easy to access. And the processor is like having a butler around always completing tasks and making things work together.
The next time you use a computer, think about what’s happening under the hood. Computer hardware is working together to help you get things done.