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Components of a Computer System

A computer is used to process data and a data processing system must consist of more than just machines. A computer system must contain:
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Humanware
  • Operational Procedures


Hardware generally refers to objects that you can actually touch, including memory, cabling, display screens, keyboards, printers, power supply, peripheral devices, and circuit boards. In addition to the computer itself, other hardware devices are also required. These devices may be off-line that is detached from the computer and operating independently or they may be on-line that is directly connected to and controlled by the computer. A printer is an off-line device and a keyboard is an on-line device.


Software is a general term for the various kinds of programs used to operate computers and related devices. On the other hand, A program is a sequence of instructions which directs a computer to perform certain functions. A computer must have access to prewritten, stored programs to input and store data, make decisions, arithmetically manipulate and output data in the correct sequence. Programs are referred to as software. Computer system must be supported by extensive software systems. Software is generally categorized as either system software or application software.


Humanware is hardware and software that emphasizes user capability and empowerment and the design of the user interface. On the other hand, Humanware refers to the persons who design, program, and operate a computer installation. There are numerous categories of jobs, but the three principal positions required in a large computer installation are system analyst, programmer, and computer operator. People in each of these areas generally perform special-purpose tasks under the supervision of a director or manager.

Operational Procedures

Operations of a data processing center require an extensive and clearly defined set of procedures for performing the essential functions of the installation. These functions generally include obtaining, preparing, and entering data into the computer, processing jobs, initiating new programs and changing or deleting old ones etc. Such procedures must have provision for actions to be taken in the event of hardware or software malfunctions.

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