In computing and informatics, hardware (union of the English words hard, rigid, and ware, product, merchandise) is known as the total of tangible material elements that make up the computer system of a computer or computer. This refers to its mechanical, electronic, electrical and peripheral components, without considering the programs and other digital elements, which are instead part of the software.
The term hardware was used in English from the 16th century, but to designate utensils and tools made from hard or heavy metals, such as iron, and which were used for hardware or mechanical work.
From the appearance of the first automatic calculation systems in the 1940s and the first steps towards computerized calculation, it became necessary to distinguish between the physical aspects of the machine and those that belonged to the logical or, more recently, the virtual, reason why the term hardware was rescued from 1947.
There are four different generations of hardware, throughout its evolutionary history, determined by a key technological advance that made them possible:
- 1st generation (1945-1956). Calculation machines operated by vacuum tubes, instead of relays.
- 2nd generation (1957 -1963). Thanks to the discovery of transistors, the total size of computers was greatly reduced.
- 3rd generation (1964- today). Integrated circuits, printed on silicon tablets, were discovered, which provided speed and effectiveness.
- 4th generation (future). Devices that overcome silicon plates and dabble in new computing formats. It is the technology still under development.
The hardware of computer systems is classified according to its performance in the set, thus identifying five different categories:
- Prosecution. The heart of the system or the computer itself is where its ability to perform logical operations, that is, its calculations, resides. It is identified with the Central Processing Unit or CPU.
- Storage. The “memory” of the system, are units that allow for safeguarding the information and recovering it later, both on internal media within the body of the machine, or on removable and portable media, such as floppy disks.
- Input peripherals. These are devices with a specific function: to enter information into the system. They can be integrated into the machine or be removable.
- Output peripherals. Similar to input, but allow to extract or retrieve information from the system.
- Input and output peripherals. They combine the information input and output functions of the system.
Some simple hardware examples are:
- The microprocessors, motherboards, integrated cards (audio, video, etc.).
- Monitors and projectors (video beam, etc.).
- Printers, scanners and other external peripherals.
- The keyboard and mouse pointer with which the user communicates with the machine.
- The modules of RAM in the CPU.
- The batteries that keep the system on, and the wiring that connects the parts.
- Hard drives and removable memory drives ( flash ).
Hardware and Software
The distinction between hardware and software operates similarly to that between the body and the soul of the human being in certain religions and philosophies. By the first term is understood the physical and perishable aspects, replaceable in the case of the computer, and by the second term those intangible, virtual aspects, without which the hardware would not perform any function.
Hardware and software are aspects of the computer that operate together since the former supports the latter on foot and the latter allows control of the way it operates and the objective of the former.