Computer System Basics – A Combination of Hardware & Software

Many people are confused by what makes up a computer system to allow it to operate the way it does, whether it be a desktop or notebook system. In this article I will cover the basics on what a computer system is actually made of and how an integration of software and hardware provides us what we now call today the modern computer!

The first thing you need to understand is the difference between software and hardware. Both software and hardware are needed for any type of system to exist, period! A computer system in itself is comprised of various hardware components to create a working computer system, which by know if you had not figured out is classified as a piece of hardware! Both notebook and desktop pc are constructed from the following main hardware components:

Hardware in a computer

A motherboard

This can be referred to as the pizza base! A motherboard allows all hardware components of a computer to connect and interact with each other. Without a motherboard you have no computer.


The brains of the computer. A processor performs all the necessary calculations and actions so that all other additional hardware and software can operate. As stated, see the processor as the human brain


Standing for ” Random Access Memory”, these are memory chips in rectangular form that come in various sizes and speeds and act as a buffer for data being transferred to the brain of the computer, the processor. RAM is necessary for any computer to operate and provides the processor with the necessity sized chunks of data it needs to operate.

Hard drive

This is a hardware device that stores all the software and personal files you need as well as most importantly the operating system. Without a hard drive you wouldn’t have a place for your operating system to operate whether it be windows or linux.

The 4 main hardware components listed above are necessary for any computer to operate and be a computer. Now lets move on to software and it’s meaning.

Software in a computer

Software is what allows any device to operate whether it be a computer or any other sort of electronic device. In the case of a computer the main bit of software that they all require to operate is the operating system. The operating system allows the user to interact with the computer as well as provide instructions for your computer to follow. Hardware can’t exist without software, and without no software hardware would not not operate. Windows and Linux are 2 forms of operating system software that are available on the market, with windows being the most popular and favoured amongst mass consumers. Just like the pc system itself, the operating system is a piece of software that is made of various other software components to allow it to operate effectively, of course the difference being that software is code and hardware is physical.

When you break things down as I have done you understand clearer about how a combination of software and hardware allow a computer to operate the way it does. You will find the basic principles that I have covered in this article apply to any other electronics device. Devices such as televisions, dvd players, mp3 players and more all basically operate in the same way.

Source by Robert Roderick