Join Garrick Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video What's a computer?, part of Computer Literacy for Mac.
- [Instructor] When using the word computer in the context of this training course, I'm referring to the entire package of everything you actually need to accomplish tasks. Some people refer to a computer as just the actual unit housing the main components of the hard drive, processor, memory, and so on. For example, this is Apple's Mac Pro, and this is the Mac Mini. They look very different, but they're both computers. They contain hard drives, processors, memory, and ports for plugging in accessories. But to use a computer you also need a monitor so you can see what you're doing.
Some computers like the iMac or notebook-style MacBook computers have built-in monitors. But it's important to not confuse the monitor with the computer itself. The monitor is also referred to as the display, and doesn't do any of the work or processing. It simply displays the computer's interface, which is still an essential component of the entire system. So, in addition to the computer and the monitor, you also need a keyboard and a mouse so you can enter text and commands and control the computer. You often need speakers or headphones so you can hear the sounds your computer makes.
All current Mac models have built-in speakers, but in many cases you'll probably want external speakers, too, which generally will sound better than the built-in speakers, especially if you like to use your computer to listen to music. Computers also need to have an operating system, which is the software that manages the operation of the entire system. We'll talk more about operating systems later. And to use a computer you also need applications, which are the programs that you run on your computer, like word processing, spreadsheet, or photo editing applications.
Many computers, and all Macs, come with built-in software, and you can purchase and install thousands of other software applications you might want or need. You might also need additional hardware to have your computer perform other tasks. For example, you'll need a printer to have paper copies of your documents, or a scanner to create electronic versions of your paper documents. These days, your printer and scanner may in fact be the same device, though. And if you want to get online, you'll need web browsing software, a modem, and to subscribe to an internet service if you want to get on the web with your computer.
So, at the very least you need the computer unit itself, a monitor, the keyboard and mouse, and an operating system to have a computer system. But all of these things and more make up your computer system, and generally when we talk about computers, we're talking about any configuration that involves these basic and essential components.
- What's inside a computer?
- How to learn any application
- Five things that work in all applications
- Setting up a printer
- Connecting to wired and wireless networks
- Email servers and clients
- Dealing with spam
- Working with search engines
- Sharing files with others