A computer is an electronic device that takes instructions in the form of a command or a program to carry out a series of algorithmic tasks (also known as computation, hence the name) accurately and efficiently.
To accomplish the above-mentioned definition, a computer requires a lot of hardware and software and communication between them. This is the right way to learn computers. But before that let us see what are Hardware and Software.
What is a Hardware?
Hardware is a tangible entity that you see when somewhere refers to a computer. Of course, there are a lot of parts of the hardware that are enclosed that you can see only when you unscrew the enclosures.
Different parts of the computer that you can see, contribute to the formation of the hardware. Each of these has a function associated with it.
Hardware can be classified into required, recommended, and fun-being.
Hardware that comes under the category required is that part of the computer without which a computer cannot work—Eg. hard disk, random access memory, motherboard, etc.
On the other hand, the hardware that is recommended performs some of the impossible tasks that look smoother. —Eg. graphics card, webcam, etc.
Fun being, however, is purely for the purpose of entertainment and glamor. —Eg. Joystick, Smart Monitor, etc.
Let us list the required hardware and its functioning and move ahead.
What are the important parts of Hardware?
The motherboard is the central part of the hardware that is a complex circuit comprising connectivity points using which most of the other hardware parts are connected.
A processor, which is placed on the motherboard, is the device that is responsible for handling the basic instructions that drive a computer.
The processing, yet to be processed or processed data in the form of bits have to be stored for further processes. This is when the hard disk comes into the picture.
Random Access Memory
Also known by its short-form RAM, this type of memory can store data that can be read and changed in any order. This is typically used for storing working data and machine code.
A Keyboard is an input device using which we can send instructions or write programs that can run certain tasks. The command or instruction will be in the form of words, while the computer understands the binary system which is formed using 0s and 1s.
The mouse is another device that helps the users in passing on the inputs via the user interface which is typical of that of graphics.
The hardware parts mentioned above are some of the required devices without which the very purpose of the computer is lost.
Now that we have a fair idea of what hardware is and how it helps form a computer, let us now go ahead and find out what software is, which is another important part of the computer.
What is Software?
The first thing you have been told about software is that it is intangible, in other words, virtual. In addition to that what you need to understand is that the software has to have the hardware to run on.
Software is a set of instructions or a program in the form of algorithms that are written to do some specific tasks including operating the computer.
What are different types of Software?
- Text Processing
- Data Storage
- Enterprise Infrastructure
- Operating System
- Product Engineering
Are Hardware and Software Interconnected?
After reading out another article, you would know about different types of software and how they help the communication between software and hardware.
To understand this better, let us consider an example of electric engineering because our modern-day electronics is evolved from this branch of engineering.
Consider a light. A light turns on when electricity is passed through the wire. It is an obvious thing that it gets turned off when the passing electricity is turned off.
So, by this, we understand that light and other devices are controlled by either passing electricity or not.
If you are not yet clear, let us consider a fan. Apart from the regular switch, there is something more available for this, which regulates the speed of the fan, hence the name regulator.
From the example of the fan we got to know that when we change the voltage, the devices behave differently. In the case of the fan, when the voltage is high, the speed of the fan increases and decreases when the voltage comes low.
Do Hardware and Software need each other?
Yes. This is the same reason with respect to the hardware that controls the software. Let us see further how it does so.
How does Hardware Communicate with Software?
So, this is what software does. By referring to the communication between software and hardware in the form of instructions, the software essentially provides an order of electrical impulses using which the hardware turns on/off at different moments, which in turn is used to present information to the user.
Here in below table let us see this communication in the form of a table.
|What it does
|Applies electric impulse
|Stops applying the electric impulse
Software communicating with the hardware in the form of electric impulses
Let us consider an example to understand this better. A screen or a monitor, one of the hardware parts of the computer, is used to understand what is going on in the computer. The monitor displays all that is going on in the computer.
How does Hardware like a Monitor Display text?
The screen is a device, which has hardware (required hardware that we have not mentioned in the previous section). This screen has an array of LEDs (light Emitting Diodes).
LEDs are nothing but miniature versions of the serial lights that you would have witnessed in different parts of society.
The best part of these diodes is that they emit different colors when exposed to different voltages of electricity. Here is the interesting part of the interaction between the hardware and the software.
The software takes the “text to be displayed” as the parameter/input only to output the required electrical impulses for each and every pixel to light up the pixels with the desired colors.
If you consider the text color to be yellow and the background color to be blue, the software passes electric impulses for each of the LEDs that are displaying yellow with a specific amount and the LEDs in the background with a different set of electric impulses.
The display looks like a text illusion to the user, but in reality, it is an array of LEDs working with different electric impulses.
What Connects the Hardware and Software?
This is where there are different levels of languages to make it easy for human programmers or developers to come up with a program that humans can understand.
What refers to all the Hardware and Software working together to Process Data?
The flow of data can be understood by this simple infographic:
What do the Software and Hardware use for their Interaction?
To establish these electric impulses, integrated chips also known as ICs take care of one another using meshes. The meshes connect point A and point B with all permutations and combinations. The decision to activate which impulse from which circuit from millions that are out there.
- Essentially, everything you see on your computer screen is the pixels turning on and off
- What you send as the input from the mouse and keyboard is actually the key completing its circuit
Which comes first Hardware or Software?
Hardware has to come first to accomodate the software and listen to the instructions a software instructs.