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How does a computer work?


Hardware , hardware, computer parts, «iron", (Eng. Hardware) - electronic and mechanical parts of a computing device that are part of a system or network, excluding software and data (information that a computing system stores and processes). Hardware includes: computers and logic devices, external devices and diagnostic equipment, power equipment, batteries and accumulators. Hardware includes devices that configure a computer. Distinguish between internal and external devices. Coordination between individual nodes and blocks is performed using hardware-logical devices called hardware interfaces. Standards for hardware interfaces are called protocols. A protocol is a set of technical conditions that must be provided by device developers. A personal computer is a universal technical system, the configuration of which can be changed as necessary.


Hardware computing systems - a generic name for the equipment on which computers and computer networks work.

Hardware usually includes:

Some of the tasks performed hardware can be performed partially or completely with the help of software emulation, for example, in personal computers the software implementation of communication protocols of modems, software emulation of functions for rendering 3D images are often used. Typically, transferring a task from hardware to software reduces the cost of equipment, but increases the load on the central processor.

In the case of a significant load on the processor of a certain kind of tasks, in order to increase productivity, they perform the opposite operation: they implement part of the algorithm in hardware, reducing the participation of the processor in the execution of the algorithm.

Examples of hardware implementation of algorithms that could be implemented in software:

Program principle

As mentioned earlier, the software of the computer involves various software that has certain functions and is installed on the computer to execute them.

In total, 3 types of software can be distinguished: system, application, and programming systems. Each of them should be considered separately.

System software is the most important in the computer and without it it is impossible. The main representatives of this category are the operating systems that were mentioned earlier. With their help, the so-called "computer-user dialogue" is built up, devices are managed and files are managed. In addition, this includes various utilities and drivers.

The application part includes applications that are designed to perform any specific tasks. For example, it can be text editors, browsers, video games, etc. Application software is divided into general purpose software and special software. The latter includes mathematical, accounting and expert packages. General purpose implies all other programs.

Only one category of software remains - programming systems. Everything is extremely simple here. This includes various development environments that allow you to create new programs in programming languages. These are programming languages, translation systems and service tools.

Hardware principle

Some inexperienced users believe that the processor and RAM are the most important in the computer. However, almost all components of the system unit are equally important. In the absence of at least one of them, PC operation will be impossible.

The main component is the motherboard. All other devices are connected to it: processor, cooling system (cooler or another), RAM, hard drive, power supply. Without these devices, the computer cannot even be turned on. You can also connect a video card, drives, additional cooling fans and a network module.

It is worth noting the differences between RAM and long-term memory. The latter is stored on the hard disk until the user deletes it by himself. RAM is used only during computer operation and stores the data that the user needs at the moment. After turning off the PC, this memory is completely cleared.

It is possible to activate the hibernation mode. At this point, all data from RAM is transferred to long-term. This allows you to turn on the computer much faster, since you do not need to download everything again.

Computer for "dummies": the main components

Speaking about the device of any computer device, it should be clearly understood that at its core it consists of hardware and software.

The hardware refers to all connected devices that, so to speak, can be touched by hands (processors, memory sticks, hard drives, monitors, video, audio and sound adapters, keyboards, mice, peripherals such as printers, scanners, etc. . d.). In the people, all these components are sometimes called "computer hardware."

The software part consists of many components, among which the operating system plays the main role, on the basis of which the interaction between the hardware and other programs and the device drivers installed in it are made — special programs with which the OS can interact with the hardware itself and enable it when performing certain tasks.

From this it is not difficult to conclude that the main principle of operation of a computer of any type is the interaction of hardware and software components. But this is only a superficial representation. These processes will be described a little later.

Turn on the whole system

Many noticed a characteristic "squeak" immediately after turning on the personal computer. This sound alerts the user that all the hardware devices of the computer are connected and are operating normally.

Thus, when the user presses the "Power" button, power is supplied to the microcircuit of the motherboard, which tests all connected modules as quickly as possible. First of all, it checks the performance of the video card. After that, the processor, hard disk, RAM and other devices are checked.

In the BIOS, you can select the appropriate option to boot the system. Here you set the order of the media, which will be checked in turn for the presence of a boot record that is necessary to start the operating system. Windows OS can be installed on a removable drive, hard drive, or even a USB flash drive.

After that, the operating system starts loading. The system loader, which is implemented at the hardware level, transfers data to the boot loaders 1 and 2. After that, the system kernel is initialized, which must be recorded on bootable media. If the kernel is not found, then the OS will not start. Otherwise, the kernel boots and control of all PC processes is transferred to the hands of the operating system and the user.

The operating system is fully up and running. Now begins to use the installed software. First of all, the central processor and RAM are responsible for this. Also involved are device drivers that are used by the program.

When the executable file is launched through the kernel of the system, the associated components from the ROM are transferred to the RAM. These can be dynamic libraries that are processed for the application to work. The higher the amount of RAM, the more components you can load into it. This increases the speed of their processing and, as a result, the speed of the entire computer and programs.

After processing the components in RAM, the system receives certain interaction commands that are executed by the central processor. After turning off the program, all data is unloaded from the RAM, but there are exceptions.

Some applications are programmed in such a way that they are constantly in RAM. In this case, if necessary, they must be turned off automatically. For example, this includes various Windows services that start automatically.

This is only a superficial analysis of the principle of personal computers. In fact, this hides a huge number of different systems that are not so easy to understand for an ordinary user. However, this is not necessary. An ordinary PC owner will have enough of this information if he does not plan to delve into the details.

What is this about?

Before figuring out what the basics of system software are, what the machine consists of, and how to program using it, you first need to figure out what the subject is in focus of attention. Its name came to us from the English language. A computer these days is called an electronic machine that can be programmed to accumulate data, process information and transfer knowledge.

The most important, main subject on which the computer is built is a clock generator. It is he who produces signals with predetermined time intervals. Pulses are further involved in the workflow of various internal, external devices for inputting information, its processing and output. In fact, the control process involves the distribution of signals in such a way as to achieve the goal set before the person. There is no need to independently direct all signals to where required: this happens automatically when there is appropriate program control. True, the result will be successful only in conditions of adequate code without errors.

How it works?

A key aspect that is always explained in the framework of computer courses for beginners: the software principle is the basis for the workflow. We are talking about the presence in the computer memory of a specialized program. This idea has become the most important for computer architecture at the current time. At the courses (computer) for beginners, the main theses of the principle are necessarily described:

  • the computing program is recorded in electronic memory, where it is stored, like the original values,
  • the sequences of commands generated in the program are encoded with numbers and the format does not differ.

The basic tenet of the software principle of computer operation

A general description of a computer always begins with the declaration of this managerial principle, due to the presence of pre-written code that the machine must execute. Such an idea has become the basis for understanding the universality of computers: in a specific time period, such a task is solved that is regulated by the updated program.

Once the result is obtained, you can proceed to the next program, performing calculations according to the algorithm described in it. This approach involves the use of software. The programmatic principle of computer operation declares mandatory the availability of software for any modern user. What is curious is that people who create the code (of course, not any, but still) use programs, algorithms, which are software.

About terminology

As the name implies, the basic concept for the modern approach to determining the principles of computer operability is the program. Through it, data is recorded, data is output from memory to an external device, any other operations - calculations, image construction, and so on. The term is used to denote an algorithmic record that allows one to obtain a solution to the formulated problem by sequential execution of operations. The program is formulated using the operators of the selected language available for computers. The main task of any modern program is to monitor the activity of hardware. The use of programs is the first sign of the software principle of computer operation.

How to use it?

Suppose, in the framework of solving a work problem, a person needs to analyze the work of the enterprise where he is employed, and in relation to this issue he needs to build examples of computer models. The program principle of a computer becomes for him an indispensable tool in achieving the task: you do not need to draw anything by hand and perform volumetric calculations, you just need to choose a program that, in the correct mode and in the prescribed manner, activates the hardware capabilities of the machine, which ultimately output to the information transfer device (monitor, printer) result.

On the other hand, the results will be correct only if debugged software is used. It should not require refinement, that is, the user only launches the product and uses functions that are clear to him, without a special education regarding the internal structure of the software. All that he needs is an understanding of the application and knowledge of the general description of the computer. The software principle of computer operation provides for the availability of specialized documentation for all applicable software.


This term is used to characterize a set of rules, procedural sets, software components, official supporting documentation that allows you to process data and implement the declared functionality of the system.

Understanding what is the essence of the software principle of computer operation, it is important to consider that the software and hardware structure are constantly in close relationship, the functionality of one is determined by the clarity of the other. The software used on modern computers depends on the technical parameters and is called the software configuration.

Methodological approach

The software principle of computer operation is based on the ideas expressed by Babbage, von Neumann. It is customary to talk about three key components:

  • CPU,
  • memory,
  • devices that allow you to display, enter information.

Speaking about the processor, the division into two devices is accepted:

  • manager
  • providing logical, arithmetic operations.

Classification system

The division of computers into several large categories is accepted:

Large - powerful devices that are common in large organizations, often working for the benefit of the national economy. To service such devices, dozens of professionals are needed. Large computers - the basic component of the formation of a computer center. In such a huge machine, it is completely impossible for a layman to guess which device is designed to process information!

Mini - such computers that have small dimensions, relatively low performance, low price. Often used by companies, scientific, research, educational institutions. They are entrusted with the functions of monitoring production processes. Micro - even smaller computers, which are actively used not only in enterprises, but in computer centers as auxiliary equipment.

Perhaps this is the category of technology that causes the general public to be so curious about the software principles of computer operation. The term is used to denote the technique used within the workplace, that is, intended for one person. Often with the help of a PC, the educational, workflow is made more effective, but this functionality is not limited to. International standardization allowed the introduction of grouping. The following categories are distinguished:

  • massive
  • office
  • mobile
  • workers
  • gaming.

Why do you need it?

Depending on a more or less broad focus on problem solving, it is customary to talk about computer specialization. Exists:

The former are designed for a wide range of tasks, computer systems can be completed at will, choosing the optimal structural elements. The resulting computer will be effective for workflows, editing text or music files, and so on. Specialized - these are machines designed for a specific direction of work. These include on-board computers installed in aircraft, cars. When exploring such a machine, an inexperienced user is unlikely to be able to immediately figure out which device is designed to process information! Many of them are distinguished by an abundance of screens, counters, sensors, lights - eyes just run up. Therefore, to put such a device into practice, you will first have to go through a specialized development course.

Data: store and process

The program principle of the computer is to execute the specified programs, which as a result produces useful information used by the user to solve his tasks. Фактически ЭВМ – исполнитель заданного человеком набора шаблонных команд, называемых алгоритмом. Идеи конструирования основаны на булевой алгебре.In fact, a set of requirements is loaded into the machine in a format that is understandable to a computer, allowing sequentially to perform a limited number of actions, as a result of which the result the person needs will be obtained. The algorithm is characterized by name, starting point, end.

An idea of ​​what is the essence of the program principle of computer operation can be obtained by analyzing the main characteristics of the algorithm:

  • discreteness (a set of commands is formed by predetermined actions for which the order is declared),
  • determinism (each action is strictly defined, cannot have more than one meaning),
  • finiteness (actions separately, the algorithm as a whole necessarily have a completion path),
  • effectiveness (lack of errors, provable by obtaining a result for a finite number of iterations),
  • mass character (applicability to a large number of tasks of the same type, excellent in the scatter of the initial parameters).

And if in more detail?

The managerial principle assumes the presence of a command set sequentially executed by the processor in automatic mode.

The homogeneity of memory involves the accumulation of information in one type of memory, which eliminates the need to determine the nature of the data in a given cell. Both programs and data are stored together, which allows you to apply the same sequence of actions to them. The user, skillfully using this feature, gets ample opportunities. Say, by running a program, you can work on it by choosing the rules for obtaining parts.

Addressing says that computer memory is structured, formed by cells, each of them has its own unique number. The processor at any time may require information from an arbitrary cell, an ordered structure will provide the fastest access to the necessary information. Different areas of memory can be named in different ways, programs recorded in them are simply searched, and the accumulation of information about structuredness makes it easy to access. In addition, using the assigned names, it is easier to change the recorded information by executing the selected program set of actions.

Data and software presentation

Any information can be processed by modern computers: graphics, pictures, text, sound. This is due to the ability to convert to a format that is understandable for the hardware level. The processor receives an instruction based on which it performs operations. The solution to the problem is accompanied by a sequence of activities, often including countless operations. It is called a program.

The software that a modern user has has appeared more than once. For several decades, the leading minds of our world took the development of the basic principles of building programs, debugging optimal operations that allow you to quickly and efficiently get results with minimal workload of hardware. Modern computer software is a collection of such programs.

ON: features

No ordinary modern user can work if the computer is not equipped with system software. The main component of this complex is the operating system, recognized as the basic component of software. This element is necessary, its absence makes impossible the operation of a computer in the understanding of an ordinary person. In addition to the OS, the category of system software includes a variety of service projects, service programs. Some of them deal with disks, others compress data, resist malware attacks, and so on.

In order to be able to solve the tasks posed by the user with the use of computers, it is necessary to have software. Such projects help to create graphic information, drawings, sounds, texts, allow you to perform operations with numerical data. The application software category is divided into:

  • applications
  • systems for programming.

Application software

Programming systems are necessary for professionals working in the field of creating new computer products. Several programming languages ​​have been developed, the most widely used family for object-oriented programming. Visual environments are very popular. Even a beginner, when applying such products, can master the basic coding operations and create his own workable product.

Applications are a slightly different type of application software. Through it, processing of text arrays, graphic and sound information, numbers and videos takes place. You can use specialized programs for networking. Using products does not require programming skills. General applications that allow solving classical problems are required by almost any user. These include text editors, graphs, tables, systems that allow you to centrally manage databases accumulating data. Do not overlook the products through which you can create presentations. Computer networks, which have been actively developing recently, have significantly increased the importance of programs to ensure user communication.

What other applications are there?

Some offer to separate antivirus programs into a separate group, the importance of which is growing from year to year due to the increasing prevalence of malware. Noteworthy are professional software environments used by qualified users. These are used to create animations, graphs, help develop projects, produce complex accounting calculations, translate texts. Extremely valuable to many modern users, electronic dictionaries.

An important category of software is training applications that allow you to increase your level in the chosen specialization without involving third parties. This is most relevant in relation to foreign languages. Demand is for tests, tutors programmed in electronic format.

OS: functionality

The OS works in close cooperation with computer hardware, controls equipment, and transmits user commands in a format that is understandable to the machine. OS functionality:

  • data exchange between devices,
  • data storage, ensuring their availability,
  • organization of work processes,
  • error report, adequate response to the accident,
  • equipment operation control,
  • access to system tools
  • ensuring mutual dialogue between the machine and the user.

Computer hardware

In the hardware, according to many, in the first place are the processor and RAM. In part, this is so. They provide the execution of all program commands and make it possible to run certain processes.

On the other hand, if you dig deeper, not a single “iron” component costs anything by itself, because you need to connect it somewhere to use it. And here the paramount importance is given to the so-called motherboards (popularly referred to as “motherboards”) - special devices on which all other components, microcircuits are mounted, etc. In this sense, the basic principle of computer operation (correct functioning without failures) is is to correctly connect all hardware components through the corresponding controllers to special slots or connectors on the board itself. There are rules here, for example, on the correct use of PCI buses, on connecting hard drives and removable drives using the Master / Slave principle, etc.

Separately, it is worth mentioning the read-only memory (ROM), on which information is recorded, as it were forever, and the random-access memory (RAM), which serves to execute software components.

Types of software

The software principle of the computer involves the use of appropriate software to perform tasks.

In a general sense, software is divided into several categories, among which system and application software can be separately distinguished. The system software includes the operating systems themselves, device drivers, sometimes service utilities necessary to ensure the correct operation of the entire system. This, so to speak, is a common shell into which application programs and applications are embedded. This type of software has a strict focus, that is, it is focused on the performance of a specific task.

But since it is precisely what the basic principles of computer operation are in a general sense, it is system software that comes to the first place. Next, consider how the entire computer system starts.

Computer science lesson. Computer: turning on and checking devices

Probably, many users of stationary PCs noticed that when you turn on the computer, the characteristic sound of the system speaker is heard. Few people pay attention to it, however, from the fact of its appearance, we can conclude that all the "iron" devices are working properly.

What is it? The principle of computer operation is that when power is supplied to a special microcircuit, called the primary input / output device, all devices are tested. First of all, there is a detection of malfunctions in the video adapter, because if it is not in order, the system simply will not be able to display visual information on the screen. Only then is the type of processor and its characteristics, parameters of RAM, hard disks and other devices determined. In fact, the BIOS initially stores information on the entire hardware.

Download Options

In addition, the download can also be interpreted as the software principle of computer operation, since the verification takes place precisely in software, and not in a physical way.

There is also a system for selecting a boot device (hard disk, optical media, USB device, network, etc.). In any case, the further principle of the computer’s work in terms of loading is to have the so-called boot record necessary for starting the system on the device.

Operating system start

To boot the OS, you need a special bootloader that initializes the kernel of the system recorded on the hard disk and puts it into RAM, after which process control is transferred to the OS itself.

In addition, the master boot record can also have more flexible settings, giving the user the right to choose a bootable system. If the start is made from removable media, the executable boot code is read from it, but loading in any version is done only if the BIOS determines the executable code as valid. Otherwise, a notification about the impossibility of starting will appear on the screen, such as that the boot partition was not found. In this case, a partition table is sometimes used, which contains information about all logical disks into which the hard drive can be divided. Among other things, access to information directly depends on the structure of the file organization, which is called the file system (FAT, NTFS, etc.).

Note that this is the most primitive interpretation of the boot process, because in fact, everything is much more complicated.

Computer memory: running programs

So, the operating system has booted. Now let us dwell on the functioning of programs and applications. First of all, the central processor and RAM are responsible for their implementation, not to mention the drivers of other devices involved.

The principle of operation of the computer’s memory is that when the executable file of the program or other object is launched from the ROM or removable media, when the application plays a complementary role, some associated components, most often dynamic libraries (although for simple programs their presence may not be provided), and device drivers necessary for operation.

They provide a link between the operating system, the program itself, and the user. It is clear that the larger the RAM has, the more components can be loaded into it and the faster they will be processed. Upon receipt of interaction commands, the central processor enters the case, which performs all the computational actions in the system. Upon completion of the application or when you turn off the computer, all components from the "RAM" are unloaded. But this does not always happen.

Change system settings

Some processes may reside in RAM permanently. Therefore, they must be stopped manually. On Windows systems, many services start automatically, but to the user they are completely unnecessary. In this case, the autostart setting is applied. In the simplest version, optimizer programs are used that clean up unnecessary processes and remove computer trash in automatic mode. But this is a separate conversation.