In computing, hardware is the set of physical and material elements, tangible, that make up a computer system or a computer.
This includes its mechanical, electronic, electrical and peripheral components, and excludes the logical programs and digital elements that make up the software. The term hardware is applied without translation because there is no equivalent in Spanish, and as it became a commonly used word it has also been applied to the additional tools and components of a computer system.
The distinction between hardware and software in computer science is similar to that between body and soul in certain branches of philosophy: the first term implies physical and perishable aspects, while the second involves intangible and ethereal aspects.
Characteristics Of Hardware
1- Origin of the term
The term hardware was used in English since the sixteenth century, when it designated utensils of hard or heavy metals such as iron, used for hardware or physical works. But since the 1940s, with the appearance of the first and primitive systems of automatic calculation and then computerized calculation, it became essential to distinguish between the physical aspect of the machine and the logical, so this term was rescued with a new meaning since 1947
Given that the physical components of a computer or computer system can be very varied, a first delimitation of the hardware concept proposes to understand it from two categories:
Principal. The main hardware is that essential for the operation of the system itself, that is, for its basic operation.
Complementary. The complementary hardware would come to be all that destined to fulfill specific and secondary functions, only carried out if the principal is functioning correctly.
3. Types of hardware
Commonly, the hardware of the computer systems is classified according to its function in the system, according to six possible categories, which are:
Prosecution. Elements that constitute the heart of the system or the computer, that is, its mechanical capacity to perform logical operations. It is also known as the Central Process Unit (CPU).
Storage. Elements that allow you to save the information to retrieve it later, either on the machine’s internal supports or removable and portable supports.
Input peripherals. Devices of specific function, integrated to the machine or removable, that allow to enter information to it.
Output peripherals. Devices of specific function, integrated to the machine or removable, that allow to extract or recover information to it.
Input and output peripherals. Devices that combine the input and output of system information.
4. Processing units
The CPUs of modern computers are the basic element of the whole system, without which it simply can not be used. It includes a microprocessor, responsible for carrying out logical operations at superhuman speeds, inserted in a motherboard or motherboard in which also the memory units (RAM and ROM) are inserted, and the storage disks are connected. All the electronic circuits that make up the computer system are mounted on this motherboard, it is its operative core.
5. Storage units
This is the name given to the different forms of memory that a computer system has, and which are commonly:
RAM (Random Access Memory). A type of random access memory that is cleaned when starting or restarting the system, since it is available as a place to temporarily store system data.
ROM (Read Only Memory). The read-only memory serves to provide the system with identical and unmodifiable information necessary for its operation, such as certain basic data systems that allow it to function.
Secondary storage disks. These are the places where the information contained in the computer is accumulated and retrieved, such as operating programs, functional programs or files generated by the user. They can be fixed (hard disks) or portable (compact disks, pen drivers, diskettes).
6. Input peripherals
Input peripherals are those non-fundamental elements of the system that allow information to be entered into it, either by the user or a network of them, or by a removable storage unit. Thus, digital cameras, keyboards and mice (mouse), CD players, etc. are examples of this.
7. Output peripherals
The output peripherals are used to extract information from the computer system, either digitally or on a physical medium (paper, for example). This means that printers, faxes, monitors and speakers are examples of output peripherals.
8. Input and output peripherals
Also called ‘mixed’, these peripherals comply with the function of introducing and extracting information from the computational system. Examples of this are multifunction printers, which allow a document to be scanned and then printed, or headset systems (microphone and earphones) that allow a remote interlocutor to speak and listen.
9. History of hardware
Four different generations are identified in the evolution of hardware, marked by a specific technological advance that revolutionized them, and which are:
1st generation (1945-1956). The first calculation machines that did not work with relays, but with vacuum tubes.
2nd generation (1957-1963). Electronics through transistors, which reduced the total size of computers considerably.
3rd generation (1964-today). Integrated circuits electronics, printed on silicon wafers.
4th generation (future). This fourth generation is spoken of as devices that overcome the silicon plates and enter new computational formats. There is much speculation about it.
10. Hardware examples
Common examples of hardware are: monitors, keyboards, video and sound and graphics cards, processors, RAM modules, microphones and speakers, multimedia cameras, touch screens, hearing aids, printers of all kinds, faxes, modems, network cards, electrical circuits, electric batteries, disks, pen drivers.