Understanding the Basics of Computers

Computer peripherals

What is a computer made of?

Welcome to this very first lesson! We will start by familiarizing ourselves with the different elements that make up a computer. The diagram below represents the minimum to operate a fixed computer:


In general, a computer is composed of:

  • Screen
  • Keyboard, to type text
  • Mouse, to move the cursor on the screen
  • Speakers for the sound, it is not mandatory but still better
    and especially of a central unit which is the heart and the brain of the computer

Central unit

The central unit is the box containing all the electronic equipment allowing the computer to operate. The keyboard, the mouse, and the screen are connected to it. It is in the central unit that we insert a disk, for example. There is no central unit for a laptop, all the electronics are grouped under the keyboard of the computer.

Computer and its various peripherals

To this basic composition, it is possible to add other electronic devices with various functionalities. This is called a peripheral. Today many devices can be connected to your computer for all types of uses such as:

  • printer, scanner
  • webcam, a digital camcorder, a digital camera
  • Internet connection by cable or wireless (Wi-Fi)
  • USB key, memory card…
  • Gamepad

What about laptops?

A laptop must be compact and easily transportable. It concentrates a central unit, a screen, a mouse, a keyboard, a webcam, and sound in a single device!

Just like the desktop computer, it is possible to connect various peripherals: printer, mouse, digital camera, etc.

The laptop also has a battery that allows it to be autonomous for up to several hours without needing to be supplied with electric current.

It’s the same principle for tablets, but even more compact!

Connecting your computer: child’s play!

And when I say child’s play, it is! Because each branch has a well-defined shape and color, which makes it almost impossible to get it wrong. In addition, at present, most computer peripherals (mouse, keyboard, camera, removable memory, webcam, etc.) are all connected via a universal connection:

USB port

USB is the acronym for Universal Serial Bus in English. It is a rectangular connection that is intended to be universal: almost all current equipment connects via USB to your computer. Computers now have USB ports on the back as well as on the front of the central unit, but also sometimes on your screen.

Here is the back of a central unit where each connection is indicated by a color:

CPU back

  • The power supply is connected directly to a power outlet (mains).
  • The 0-1 button cuts off the power supply.
  • Depending on the age of your computer, several sockets will allow you to connect it to a screen: a DVI connection (rectangular white) to connect modern screens and a VGA (rectangular blue) for old screens. And more recently HDMI which has the same standard as for our televisions!
  • USB ports for connecting various peripherals (mouse, keyboard, USB key, etc.). These are currently the most used ports!
  • A special socket allows you to connect to the Internet by cable: it is an RJ45 socket. Today most computers can connect wirelessly.
  • The sound sockets allow you to connect speakers, subwoofers, microphones, etc.
  • The ventilation grille is very important because it allows the heat generated by the components of the computer to be evacuated. Be careful not to obstruct this outlet.

Of course, these connections can vary from one computer to another depending on its age. We will almost always find the USB ports which have become essential.

Remember that a computer generally consists of at least a screen, a central unit, a keyboard, and a mouse. To go to the next class, click on the big green button below!


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