That Blue Square Thing

AQA Computer Science GCSE

May 2019: this area of the site is being built just now. I’m making progress but there are areas where there is no content yet. That will get added over the next 6 months or so.

Computer Systems - Hardware and Software Types

Computer systems are made up of hardware and software.

Hardware is simply any physical component that makes up the computer system. This might include the monitor, keyboard and mouse on a PC as well as the circuit boards and memory inside the machine. Not every system has all of this hardware - simple, embedded systems (such as those in a microwave oven or a supermarket till) might have much less hardware that a user can interact with.

Software is the programs that run on the hardware.

You need to know the differences between application software and systems software and be able to explain what an Operating System does. Some of this will make a little more sense once you understand what's going on inside the computer.

PDF iconHardware and Software Introduction - slides from class

PDF iconHardware and Software - textbook double-page spread

PDF iconOperating systems and Utility Software examples - screenshots to illustrate this

Input and Output Devices

Some elements of hardware are designed to be interacted with by users. This can be to either input data into the system or to receive outputs from the system. These types of hardware are called I/O devices - meaning input/output devices.

Input devices allow users to input data into the computer system. These devices include keyboards, mice, touchscreens, microphones, fingerprint readers, cameras, game controllers and any other type of device where data can be inputed via buttons, switches or in any other way.

Output devices are any piece of hardware which allows the computer system to provide feedback of some kind to the user. Most simply these include screens, printers and speakers/headphones. Any kind of LED or sound is also an output device, as is the movement received from a device such as a game controller (an example of haptic feedback). Embedded systems such as the computers in dishwashers will provide feedback in a different way to a standard computer system.

Note that some I/O devices will be used for both input and output - for example, a touch screen or a game controller.

A Multiple Choice Test

A quick multiple choice test to check your understanding of some of the key defintiions.

Test iconHardware & Software Multiple Choice Test

No need to be logged in or submit your details to do this. You should be able to complete it multiple times.