What is a Computer? – Definition, Features, and Types

Definition Computer:

A computer is a device which has functions of receiving, storing and suitably processing data. A computer is automated to perform logical or arithmetic operations.

The computer, that essential equipment in today’s everyday life that is also known by the name of the personal computer or desktop system, is an electronic machine that allows to process and accumulate data. The term comes from the Latin computer (“calculate”).

If we look for the exact definition of the term “computer,” we will find that it is an electronic machine capable of receiving, processing and returning results based on specific data and that to perform this task, it has an input and an output means.

On the other hand, a computer system consists of two subsystems that receive the names of software and hardware, the first consists of the logical part of the computer (programs, applications, etc.) the second in the physical part (elements that form it like motherboard, fan, RAM).

For its operation, it requires computer programs (software) that provide specific data, necessary for the processing of information. Once the desired information has been obtained, it can be used internally or transferred to another computer or electronic component.


A computer is composed of the monitor, the keyboard, the mouse, the tower (where the hard disk and other components of the hardware are located) and the printer, and each one fulfills a particular function. On the other hand, this device is prepared to perform two functions mainly: respond to a specific system of commands in a fast way and execute programs, which consist of a series of instructions recorded in advance.

Computer Software:

The software of a computer is one of the fundamental elements for its operation, its operating system, which consists of a large platform where programs, applications or tools that serve to perform different tasks can be executed.

Computer Hardware:

Hardware, on the other hand, is formed by memory (it allows to store data and programs), input devices (to enter the data in the computer, eg: mouse and keyboard), output devices (to visualize the data, ex: screen or printer) and CPU (brain of the computer where the instructions are executed.) The acronym is the English form of the Central Processing Unit.

Computer Architecture:

The first computers appeared in the middle of the last century since then they have not stopped manufacturing, growing by leaps and bounds. Despite this, most computers today still respect the Eckert-Mauchly architecture, published by John von Neumann and created by John Presper Eckert and John William Mauchly.

This architecture conceives four main sections in it: the logical and arithmetic unit (Arithmetic Logic Unit – ALU), the control unit, the memory (a succession of storage cells that have a number, where each cell represents a known unit of information as bit) and the input and output devices. All these parts are interconnected by a group of cables called buses.

The connections inside a computer are called electronic circuits; the most complex is those included in modern microprocessor chips, which have a very powerful ALU inside. Each microprocessor can have multiple cores and these in turn with various execution units (each of them has different ALU).

It should be noted that the circuits together with those components linked to them allow executing a variety of sequences or routines of instructions ordered by the user. These sequences are systematized according to a large plurality of practical and specific applications, in a process that is called programming.

Different Types:

  1. Microcomputers (small devices that can receive programming, in this classification enter the PC or desktop computers).
  2. Minicomputers (medium size and a little more expensive than the PC),
  3. Maxicomputers (serve to control many devices Simultaneously, in this classification come the so-called mainframe)
  4. Supercomputers (fastest and most expensive, those used for the realization of large-scale projects such as movies or video games of the latest generation)

According to how it works the data it receives can be called: digital, analog or hybrid. The digital ones process the data working by different letters and symbols, the analog ones do it using a standard scale, and the combinations use both forms.