classes of hardware :
- Input - used
to get information into the computer. Includes keyboard, mouse, scanner, digitizer,
digital camera, etc.
- Output - used
to get information out of the computer. Includes monitor, printer, plotter
- Central Processing Unit.
The brains of the computer - where the processing takes place.
- RAM. Random
Access Memory. Think of this as the active memory of the computer. Temporarily
stores program instructions and data. The more RAM, the more stuff your
computer can handle at once. Turn the computer off, and you lose everything
that's in memory. For perspective, in 2018, don't buy anthing with less than 16GB of RAM if you want to do anything computer-heavy (GIS, games, image processing, etc).
- ROM - Read
Only Memory. This is your permanent memory. It stores the information
required to boot up the computer.
This does the work. It gets info from RAM, changes it, and sends it back
to RAM - where it can be accessed by the monitor or stored to a mass storage
- Video card
- this is the beastie that displays stuff on screen. It usually has it's
own RAM to do the work. They come in two flavors - those built into the motherboard and a separate video card. For basic use with a basic monitor, the built-in stuff is fine. However..... if you're doing a lot of mapping, image processing, gaming, etc, you will want a video card. Buy the most you can afford. This is usually my first (and often only) upgrade that I do on desktop PCs.
- Mass storage:
Where you store your files. Harddrives (as of July, 2018, 12 terabyte drives are
available), CD (640 MB), DVD (up to 9 gb), Blu-ray DVD (25
GB),flash/usb drives, etc... There are many many,
many different ways of storing data - these are only the most common. Note,
tape drives have become less and less common, zips are completely obsolete,
floppys are useless, and most folks use USB flash drives as their portable
storage medium. Wow. you can now get these up to 2 terabytes. Crazy.
on back of computer
- USB. The new
standard for just about everything. Fast, simple. in 2018, we were at usb3 - the basic difference between the versions is the transfer speed. The higher the version, the faster the speed.
- Video - this
is where you plug in your monitor. There are multiple options out there. Fair warning, buy a new cable with your monitor, there are cable compatibility issues out there.
and some obsolete stuff you may run into.
- Parallel. slow.
typically, this is your printer port. being phased out. Newer computers no
longer have them. Replaced by USB
- Serial. slow.
being phased out. Now phased out, plug stuff into USB.
- SCSI. A fast
connection, usually requiring a SCSI card being installed in your computer.
Generates excess heat and are expensive. Pretty much obsolete these days. Think USB.
- PCMCIA. Credit
card sized cards plug into PCMCIA ports - usually found on laptops. obsolete.
- PS2 - mouse/keyboard
ports. Also being phased out. Again, gone on new computers. Replaced by USB.
- Firewire. The
competitor to USB. Also very fast. Usually only found on Macs. Typically,
firewire is a little faster than USB. And is now dead. Think USB