Computers as Devices That Help Us Manipulate Information or Data

Since ancient times, simple manual devices like the abacus aided people in doing calculations and early in the Industrial Revolution, some mechanical devices were built to automate long tedious tasks, such as guiding patterns for looms. Also, more sophisticated electrical machines did specialized analog calculations in the early 20th century.

The first digital electronic calculating machines were developed during World War II and the speed, power, and versatility of computers has increased continuously and dramatically ever since, to the point that artificial intelligence may become possible in the future.


Computers and computing devices from different eras. | Photo Credit: Wikipedia

What is a computer?

You probably already know that you can use a computer to type documents, send email, play games, and browse the Web. You can also use it to edit or create spreadsheets, presentations, and even videos

A computer is an electronic device which is capable of receiving information or data in a particular form and of performing a sequence of operations in accordance with a predetermined but variable set of procedural instructions called a program to produce a result in the form of information or signals. In other words, computers help us manipulate information or data.


Computer Tangibles and Intangibles

All computers, no matter the type, have something in common. They are made up of tangible parts called the hardware, parts that can be touched, and somewhat intangible parts called the software. 

Computer Hardware

Hardware is the computer’s physical components such as the keyboard and mouse as well as internal parts of the computer such as the processor. For example, the computer monitor or screen you are using to read this text and the mouse or touch-pad you are using to navigate this web page is computer hardware. 


Computer Hardware

Computer Software

Software, on the other hand, gives the hardware a list of instructions to use to accomplish certain tasks. The software also uses the hardware for some basic functions such as taking input (e.g. using the keyboard), displaying output (e.g. using the monitor) and storage (e.g. using the hard drive).

The Internet browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera Mini, UC Browser, etc. that allowed you to visit this page and the operating system such as Windows, iOS, Android, etc. that the browser is running on is considered software.

In other words, when you install a software or an application on your computer device, you have installed a set of instructions that will tell the device how to accomplish a certain task such as displaying this web page for you.


Computer Software

Different Types of Computers

When most people hear the word computer, they think of a personal computer (PC) such as a desktop or laptop. However, computers come in many shapes and sizes, and they perform many different functions in our daily lives. In fact, when you withdraw cash from an ATM, or use a calculator, you’re using a type of computer.


Some types of computers include:

  • Desktop Computers: Desktop computers are designed to be placed on a desk, and they’re typically made up of a few different parts, including the CPU case, monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  • Laptop Computers: Laptops are battery-powered computers that are more portable than desktops, allowing you to use them almost anywhere.
  • Tablet Computers: Tablets are handheld computers that are even more portable than laptops. Instead of a keyboard and mouse, tablets use a touch-sensitive screen for typing and navigation. 
  • Server: A server is a computer that serves up information to other computers on a network. For example, whenever you use the Internet, you’re looking at something that’s stored on a server.
  • Smartphones: Many cell phones can do a lot of things computers can do, including browsing the Internet and playing games. These 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. 
  • Game Consoles: A game console is a specialized type of computer that is used for playing video games on a television or other form of screen. Most consoles come with game pads for control.
  • Televisions: Many TVs nowadays include applications or apps that let you access various types of online content. For example, you can stream video from the Internet directly onto some TVs.
  • ATMs: Automated teller machines or ATMs enable clients of a financial institution such as a bank to perform financial transactions without the need for a cashier, human clerk or bank teller.


Desktop computers have a separate monitor for displaying information, a separate keyboard and a separate mouse. Laptop computers on the other hand, have the screen, keyboard and mouse coupled together as a single unit. Can you describe the differences in these hardware on a touchscreen smartphone device? In other words, where is the monitor, keyboard and mouse on a touchscreen smartphone?

Confused about anything that was mentioned in the lesson? Ask a question!


Leave Your Comment