Computer Basics Lesson 1: What are the main parts of the computer?

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A computer is an electronic device with many attachments. These attachments are either necessary or enhance a computer's performance. These are mainly external components of computers. These parts you can see and touch while sitting at a personal computer. They fall under the category called Hardware. In order to start learning about how to use computers, you will need to be able to identify the main parts that make up a computer. In this lesson, we’ll cover the basics of computer hardware.

What are these parts on my desk?

Some of the following components may be similar to what you have seen while seated at a personal computer.


Used for making selections. There are two buttons on a mouse. Most actions are performed using the left mouse button. Some mice have cords and some do not.

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Used for entering data, generating commands. The keyboard layout is similar to a typewriter with additional keys for other functions. There is a number keypad to the right of the main alphabetical keypad.

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The monitor is the visual component of the computer. It displays information to the user. This is a required part of the computer. This part requires electricity so it will have its own power cord to plug into an outlet.

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The speakers are the audio component of the computer.


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Computer System Unit

This is where everything comes together to work. The system box holds the central processing unit to act as the brains of the computer. The unit contains the motherboard which is the main circuitry for the system. The power supply for the main computer is located in the unit. All the other parts including the monitor, mouse, keyboard, speakers, and others join at the unit to become a functional system.

Central Processing Unit 

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The printer is used to develop a hard copy or paper copy of a document or picture. The printer connects to the computer and requires the use of its own power cord.


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Compact Disk (CD)

This device is used for storage. Some CDs hold information to be loaded into a computer. Some are used to hold information from the computer. It depends on what type of CD it is.


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Thumb Drive

The thumb drive is a portable storage device. You use it store information from a computer and use it on another system. They are also known as flash drives.

thumb drive 

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Interesting Tidbit

Not all hardware components look the same. In fact, a laptop has most of the same hardware components but is more compact and not as easy to recognize. The laptop is a portable computing device. Your task is to realize these parts exist, how they work for you, and how you can use them.

More Information

What are the differences between hardware and software:

Computer hardware in plain English (video):

To visit the previous website, place your mouse over the underlined link above then click. You must be connected to the internet in order for the link to work.

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