What is a Computer? Functions, Language and Types of Computer

Hi, if you are able to read this article, I’m sure you have heard of the words – computer, laptop, smartphone. Well, laptop and smartphone are also type of computer. To understand it, I want you to first understand what a computer is.

If you ask anyone about the definition of a computer, he/she will start with ‘a computer is an electronic machine’ and then he/she may say ‘it inputs data, processes it and then provides us the output’. So, what does this input, process and output mean? Don’t worry, if you don’t know about these. Before, I tell you these stuffs, I want to show you how a computer looks.

A desktop computer or Desktop PC or PC, looks like what you can see in the image below.

figure of desktop and laptop computer

As you can see in the image, the parts of a desktop computer are a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, a CPU.

A monitor looks like a television. Anything that you type using keyboard, you can see that on monitor screen. If you play a video on a computer, you need a monitor to watch it. A monitor shows you the output and so it is called an output device.

You use a keyboard for typing and entering alphabets, numbers, symbols into the computer. With a keyboard, you also instruct a computer to do some task.

A mouse is also called a pointing device and you use it to instruct the computer. Using a mouse, you can select photos, videos, text or any type of file that you can see on the computer screen. You can also use mouse for drawing using drawing tools available on software like Photoshop, Paint.

A laptop is also a computer and because of its small size, you can easily carry it from one place to other. When you close the lid of a laptop, it looks like a small briefcase.

When the lid of a laptop is open, you can see that the parts of a laptop also has a monitor and a keyboard. Instead of a mouse, a laptop has a touchpad, also known as trackpad, that looks like a small rounded box. You can use your fingers to touch the touchpad and use it as a pointing device. And, you may not notice a CPU box here; a laptop has a built-in CPU above which the keyboard is attached. So, with laptops, you do not need to carry the CPU box, keyboard and mouse separately.

Like I earlier said, a smartphone is also a computer. You may ask me how? When you see a modern smartphone, it has a touchscreen that is similar to a monitor in a desktop computer or a laptop. The touchscreen also has the functionality of a touchpad to work as a pointing device. When you open WhatsApp or Message box, you’ll see a keyboard appearing that you can use for typing. Like laptops, our smartphones also have built-in CPU.

A smartphone today is able to do almost the tasks that a general person requires in his/her daily life. You can create your resume, application letter, watch videos online, edit photos, send email, use internet for searching information on Google and a lot of things.

How does a computer run?

A computer requires a source of power that can be a UPS, electric power or just a battery. A laptop and smartphone already come with a battery attached to them. After power, a computer hardware requires a software to run the hardware, such software is system software – operating system. If you do not know what an operating system is then you can think of Android. Android is a popular operating system that runs in smartphones.

So, a computer requires power supply, hardware and software to start and function properly.

Now, we will understand the technical definition that we had already discussed above.

A computer can be defined as an electronic machine that stores the input data and processes it. A data can be a letter, a word, a number or any information. Anything that you see on the computer screen is also a data. Any information you see written on a notebook or a paper is also data.

Function of a Computer

A computer has 4 main functions: input, process, store and output. Firstly, I want to have a look on the diagram below.

function of computer

Input – Any data that we send into the computer through input device is called as input. If you type your name using the keyboard, your name is a data to the computer.

Process – Any logical or arithmetic operation a computer does with the data is called as processing the data. For example: You type 2 and 3 and, press + button, the computer will do addition of 2 and 3. So, when the computer is adding 2 and 3, it is processing by doing addition of 2 and 3.

Output – Any data or information a computer provides you through output device is called as output. When the computer adds number 2 and 3, it gives shows you 5 on the screen. The result 5 is the output data. Also, when you see 2 and 3 on the computer screen, they are also output.

Store – If you notice in the diagram above, a computer does the function of storing two times – after input and before output. When you input number 2, the computer stores number 2 in its memory. After 2, when you enter number 3, it stores number 3 in its memory. Now, it has both numbers in its memory. If you press + button, it adds number 2 and 3 and stores the result number 5 in its memory and then shows number 5 on the screen.

Language of a Computer

Like we human have languages like English, Hindi, Spanish etc. to communicate to each other, computers also have a language called as Machine language. The machine language is in the form of 0 and 1 and so also known as Binary language. Now, you can say that you type alphabets or numbers given on the keyboard, not 0 or 1. You are right that we type characters given on the keyboard.

Here, I want you to understand that a computer is an electronic and like every machine, each computer part has electronic chips inside it. So, a computer actually understands current and the 0 and 1 is used to identify when we press OFF and ON switches on the computer chips. Now, you have understood that there are switches on the electronic chips. If a switch is ON, computer understands it as 1 and when the switch is OFF, it understands 0.

For humans to understand and work more easily, technology on computer language has been developed so much that now we’re able to use English words, sentences to instruct computers to get our work done.

Types of Computer

Computers can be categorized in various ways – according to size, according to processor. As most of us never look for processor while buying a computer, I will discuss about computers according to their size.

Micro Computer

Microcomputers are the type of computers that we use at our home, office and you also see these computers at ticket counters, retail outlets and everywhere you go. They are small in size and cheaper than other types of computer. People can easily buy a microcomputer for their personal and everyday use. The desktop computers, laptops that we use today all are kind of microcomputers.

Mini Computer

Minicomputers were a little bigger than Microcomputers, and you won’t see them being used today. They’re also called as mid-size computers.

Mainframe Computer

A mainframe computer has more data storage capacity than a microcomputer and is so large in size that it requires a room space for its installation. Such computers are usually used by banks, universities, small or large size businesses. Mainframe computers are mostly used as computer servers to store and manage large amount of data. Multiple microcomputers are connected with one mainframe computer through computer network.

Super Computer

Supercomputers are called the fastest computers in the world and they usually take space of a large room and may also take a space of an entire building. Such computers use very large amount of data storage capacity and multiple high-end processors for fastest and accurate computing. The supercomputers are widely used for scientific and research purpose and also used by large organizations like Facebook that store very large amount of data.

I hope this article was helpful enough to give you an idea about computer and its function. I would recommend you to subscribe our YouTube channel – LM Skills Academy and also follow us on Instagram @lmskillsacademy for more learning.

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