Once you have unpacked your Personal Computer and set up the different hardware elements, it's worth taking the time to get to know exactly what each part does. All personal computers have the same basic elements. Knowing how they fit together and operate as a unit, and understanding where you fit into the picture will help you and your family to get the most out of home computing.
Your computer is simply a tool that, given the correct instructions and data, will make your day to day life easier and more enjoyable. You enter instructions and information into the computer via the mouse and keyboard. The results can be seen on your monitor's screen and printed out on your printer.
The most important part of the computer, the system unit, links all these elements together. Whatever make of computer you have, it will have these same key components that allow you to use it. Although most computers look similar, there are variations between models, so always check instructions in the computer manual to make sure you're using your computer correctly.
Here is how you can get the most out of your PC by understanding the purpose of each part:
- Monitor. Your monitor is home to the computer screen, which shows you what your computer is doing. The screen comes in different sizes and, in the interest of preventing eyestrain, the bigger the better. Screens are measured in inches, diagonally. A 15 inch screen or larger is the ideal choice. Your monitor do have their own power switch.
- Mouse. Your mouse is use to select items on screen and move the text cursor. A text cursor is a flashing line that identifies where new text appears. Basically you move the mouse around with your hand and a mouse pointer moves around on the screen, allowing you to select menus and click on commands.
- Keyboard. You use the keyboard for typing in data and commands and has the familiar typewriter keys. On the right is a separate numeric keypad, plus navigation keys with arrows that help you to move around the screen. There is also a series of function keys along the top that allow you to give special commands.
- Printer. You need a printer to put your work on paper. The two main types are laser and inkjet. Laser printers produce better quality print-outs and have the fastest printing speeds. However, they tend to be more expensive, especially color models. Inkjet printers are cheaper and most can print in color. Unless you are printing hundreds of pages a week, an inkjet printer will almost certainly meet your needs.
- The system unit. This is where all the cables plug in. Whether your system unit is on its side like a desktop unit or its end like a tower unit, it acts in the same way. The system unit also contains disk drives like a floppy disk drive and a CD Rom drive.
In summary, your hardware is the actual body of the computer system, comprising the system unit and all the elements that you can plug into it. It also determines which type of operating system you can use.
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