A computer is an electronic machine that stores, retrieves, and manipulates or processes data. It cannot think or reason; it can only carry out instructions given to it. A set of instructions that directs its actions is called a program. Different programs are used to solve different problems. Ability to accept, store, and execute various sets of instructions (or programs) makes the computer the invaluable, all- purpose business tool.


The term computer is derived from the Latin term ‘computare’, this means to calculate or programmable machine.

A computer is an electronic device that manipulates information, or data. It has the ability to store, retrieve, and process data. Computer can not do anything without a Program.

Major Characteristic of Computer:

There are following major characteristics of computer:
  • It responds to a specific set of instructions in a well-defined manner.
  • It can execute a prerecorded list of instructions (a program).
  • It can quickly store and retrieve large amounts of data.

Important Characteristic of Computer:

There are following important characteristics of computer:
  1. Speed: Computers work at an incredible speed.
  2. Accuracy: In addition to being fast, computers are also accurate.
  3. Diligence: Unlike human beings, computers are highly consistent.
  4. Versatility: Computers are versatile machines and are capable of performing any task as long as it can be broken down into a series of logical steps.
  5. Storage Capacity: Today’s computers can store large volumes of data.

What are the functions of a computer?

There are basically four (04) basic functions of computers:

  1. Data Input
  2. Data Processing
  3. Program Storage
  4. Information Output

These are described below:

  1. Data Input: Computer can keep track of any different types of information. Receiving or accepting information from outside sources. The most common way of performing this function is through the information entered through the keyboard and the click of mouse. There are many other type of devices for receiving such information - for examples of input devices include, your keyboard, computer mouse, microphone etc. Computers are also able to receive information stored in other devices like DVD disks, Pen drives and from other computers or similar devices.
  2. Data Processing: This is really the core of computer operation. Computer can rapidly solve all types of numerical problems. Solving numerical problems can be considered as an example of computer processing. With the ability of data manipulation of company, task can be completed efficiently with effectively. Saving lots and lots of time and effort, compared to human work. Also, computers are accurate and error free, they can process huge amount of information at the same time and they inexpensive.
  3. Program Storage: Store information in the computer. The memory is stored in computer in several different ways depending on how the information is used. For simplicity we will classify in two broad categories. First is the memory in the central processing unit of the computer, and second is the auxiliary memory. The auxiliary memory includes devices such as fixed hard drives. The information stored in computer can also be divided broadly used in two categories. The user data and the instructions used for internal operation and processing in the computer. These instruction are what we call computer programs or software.
  4. Information Output: Output is one of the most commonly used function in computer. The results of the processing are made available for use by any user or other devices. The most common ways of producing such outputs are through computer monitor, speakers, and printers. When a computer is connected to other devices, including through Internet, this output is in the form of electrical pulses. The output data can also be recorded on to an external recording medium such as a DVD disk.

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