Hardware - Term Overview

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In computing and informatics, it's known as hardware (union of the English words hard, rigid, and ware, product, merchandise) to the total of the material, tangible elements that make up the computer system of a computer . This refers to its mechanical, electronic, electrical and peripheral components, without considering the programs and other digital elements, which are instead part of the software.

The term hardware was used in English from the 16th century, but to designate utensils and tools made from hard or heavy metals, such as iron, and that were used for hardware or mechanical work.

From the appearance of the first automatic calculation systems in the 1940s and the first steps towards computerized calculation, it became necessary to distinguish between the physical aspects of the machine and those that belonged to the logical or, more recently, the virtual, which is why the term hardware was rescued from 1947.

The term is applied in Spanish and other languages ​​without translation, since there is no equivalent, and it has also become a common word in today's hypercomputer world.

There are four distinct generations of hardware, throughout its evolutionary history, determined by a key technological advance that made them possible:

- 1st generation: Calculation machines that operated by means of vacuum tubes, instead of relays.
- 2nd generation: Thanks to the discovery of transistors, the overall size of computers was greatly reduced.
- 3rd generation: Integrated circuits are discovered , printed on silicon tablets, which provided speed and effectiveness.
- 4th generation: Devices that surpass silicon plates and venture into new computational formats. This is technology still in development.

Hardware types

The hardware of computer systems is classified according to its performance as a whole, thus identifying five different categories:

- Prosecution: The heart itself of the system or the computer is where its ability to perform logical operations, that is, its calculations, resides. It's identified with the Central Processing Unit or CPU.
- Storage: The "memory" of the system is about units that allow information to be safeguarded and recovered later, both on internal media inside the body of the machine, or on removable and portable media, such as floppy disks.
- Input peripherals: These are devices with a specific function: to enter information into the system. They can be integrated into the machine or be removable.
- Output peripherals: Similar to the input, but allow the extraction or retrieval of information from the system.
- Input and output peripherals: They combine the information input and output functions of the system.

Hardware examples

Some simple hardware examples are:

- The microprocessors, motherboards, integrated cards (audio, video, etc.).
- Monitors and projectors (videobeam, etc.).
- Printers, scanners and other external peripherals.
- The keyboard and the pointer ( mouse ) with which the user communicates with the machine.
- The modules of the RAM memory in the CPU.
- The batteries that keep the system running, and the wiring that connects the parts.
- Hard drives and removable memory ( flash ) drives.

Hardware and Software

The distinction between hardware and software operates in a similar way to that between the human body and soul in certain religions and philosophies. By the first term we mean the physical and perishable aspects, replaceable in the case of the computer, and by the second term those intangible, virtual aspects, without which the hardware would not perform any function.

Hardware and software are aspects of the computer that operate jointly, since the former supports the latter running and the latter allows control of the way it operates and the purpose of the former.

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