So, what is a computer?
So, what is a computer?
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A desktop computer is one of the most common types of computer. This kind of computer is also known as a 'desktop' or 'PC', which is short for personal computer.
In this activity, we're going to look at what a desktop computer can do, the parts of a desktop computer, and what programs are.Start activity
What can a desktop computer do?
You can use a desktop computer to do a range of useful, informative, fun and creative activities. Some of these may include:
- using the internet
- playing games, music and videos
- writing letters
- selling or shopping online
We'll be walking you through many of those activities in future courses, but for now we're going to provide a basic guide to the parts and operations of a computer.
Parts of a desktop computer
We are going to look at the different pieces of equipment that connect together to make a desktop computer. These are the physical parts of a computer, and are often called 'hardware'.
The computer case
The case, or box, contains the 'brains' of the desktop computer. All the other parts of a desktop computer connect to this case.
Also known as the monitor, the screen lets you see what's happening on the computer. Some desktop computers combine the screen with the computer case, or box. In most desktop computers, the monitor needs to connect to mains power.
A keyboard lets you type letters, numbers and symbols into the computer.
The mouse lets you point to and move items you see on the screen.
What are programs?
A desktop computer will include programs, or applications (or 'apps'), that let you do a range of things. Programs may also be called 'software'.
A web browser, for example, is a program that lets you use the internet (we often call this 'surfing' the internet). A word processor program lets you write letters, and a music player program allows your computer to play songs.
There are many types of computer programs, and each does something different. Some programs will come with your computer, while others can be loaded onto your computer as you need them.
How to turn a desktop computer on or off
A desktop computer needs to be plugged into mains power to work.
To turn a desktop computer on or off, you need to press the power button. Look for a button usually with a symbol that looks like a circle with a line through it (as you can see in the picture).
On most desktop computers, the power button will be located on the computer case. If the desktop computer has a separate screen, you will need to turn this on too. Look for a button along the front, edge or back of the screen.
On some desktop computers, a single power button will turn on the computer and the screen. Look for a power button on the front, back or edge of the screen.
The computer may take a minute or two to start. This is called 'booting up'.
You've come to the the end of the What is a computer? activity.
You have just learnt that a desktop computer is made up of several parts, called 'hardware', and that it also has programs called 'software'.
You will also have learnt that the main parts of a computer are the:
- computer case
- screen or monitor
In the next activity, What is a screen?, we'll take a closer look at another important part of a desktop computer.