What is a Computer?

A computer is a machine that can be programmed to accept data, process data into useful information and store it for later use. A computer consists of hardware and software. The machine is known as hardware. The programs are called software. The processing of input to output is directed by the software but performed by the hardware.

Computer word is derived from computing that means to calculate. The computer is used to perform arithmetic and logical operations. The calculation is not the only use of computer. It can be used for different purposes.

The term computer literacy refers to the knowledge and understanding of computer and its uses. A person is computer literate if he understands computer and its applications.

Software and Hardware

Software is a set of instructions that tells a computer what to do. A computer works according to the given instructions in the software.

The physical parts of a computer are called hardware. The user can see and touch hardware. Keyboard and mouse are examples of hardware.

Relationship of Software and Hardware

Software is a set of instructions that tells computer hardware what to do. The hardware cannot perform any task without software. The software cannot be executed without hardware. A computer becomes useful only when hardware and software are combined.

Difference between Software & Hardware

Following is a brief difference between software and hardware:

Software is a set of instructions that tell a computer exactly what to do.Hardware is physical parts of computer that cause processing of data.
The software cannot be executed without hardware.Hardware cannot perform any task without software.
The software cannot be touched.Hardware can be seen and touched.
Software is debugged in case of a problem.Hardware is repaired in case of problem.
Software is reinstalled if the problem is not solved.Hardware is replaced if the problem is not solved.


A collection of raw facts and figures is called data. The word raw means that the facts have not yet been processed to get their exact meaning. Data is collected from different sources. It is collected for different purposes. Data may consist of numbers, characters; symbols or pictures etc.

Examples of Data

When students get admission in colleges or universities, they have to fill out an admission form. The form consists of raw facts about the students. These raw facts are the student’s name, father name, address, etc. The purpose of collecting this data is to maintain the records of the students during their study period in the college or university.

During census, governments collect the data of all citizens of country. Government slores this data permanently to use it for different purposes at different times. Different organizations conduct surveys to know the opinion of the people about their product. In these surveys, people express their ideas and opinions about different issues. These ideas and opinions of the people are stored as data. The organizations use this data for the improvement of their products etc.

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