The term computer hardware is commonly used to describe the physical components of a computer. These include input devices, output devices, storage devices, and processing devices.
Examples of input devices are a keyboard, mouse, and webcam. Other input devices include image scanners and joysticks.
Output devices are monitors, speakers, and headphones. Optical disk drives are often used by machines to store data. Some machines have a network interface card that is connected to a local area network.
A CPU is the central processing unit of a computer. It processes digital instructions from various programs. Computers are built with RAM, a memory that stores code accessed by the CPU.
Short-term memory is used to store information while long-term storage is stored on the hard drive. Memory can be stored as RAM, a volatile memory that only has a limited lifespan, or as persistent storage, which maintains its state even after power is turned off.
Software is another important component of a computer system. It contains instructions that tell the physical components what to do and how to do it.
Hardware and software are complementary. Without either of them, a computer will not work. However, they are also interdependent.
Unless software is installed, most hardware will not work. Input and output devices are usually housed externally to the main computer chassis.
Software can be installed and uninstalled and reinstalled, as needed. Software is usually divided into two categories: application software and system software. Application software includes programs such as MS Word and Photoshop.