Hardware and Software: Concept, Functions and Examples

We explain what hardware and software are and what functions each one fulfills. Also, how they are composed and examples.

Hardware and software
Hardware refers to the tangible of the computer and software to the intangible.

What are hardware and software?

In computing, the terms hardware and software are used to refer to the two distinct and complementary aspects of any computerized system: the physical and tangible, on the one hand; and the virtual and digital, on the other. Body and soul, respectively, of any computer system.

When we talk about hardware (from English hard, rigid, and ware, product) we refer to the mechanical, electrical or electronic set of the real parts that make up the body of a computer, that is, the plates, cards, integrated circuits, mechanisms, electrical devices, responsible for the processing, support and connection of the machine.

This hardware is classified according to its function in the overall system process:

  • Storage hardware. It operates as the “memory” of the computer, where information and data are stored. It can be primary (internal, inside the computer) or secondary (removable, portable) storage.
  • Processing hardware. The heart of the system is where calculations are carried out and logical operations are solved.
  • Peripheral hardware. These are the attachments and accessories that are incorporated into the system to communicate with the outside and / or provide new functions. It can be of three types, in turn:
    • Input hardware. It is used to introduce data to the system, either by the user or operator, or from other systems and computers on the network.
    • Output hardware. Similarly, it allows to retrieve information from the system, or share it over telecommunications networks.
    • Mixed hardware. Execute the input and output functions at the same time.

When we speak of software, instead, we refer to the virtual content of the system: the programs, applications, instructions and communication protocols that interface with the user and control how the system operates, and give it meaning. It is the “mind” of the system.

Said software can also be classified according to its function in the system:

  • Soperating system (or System software). They are in charge of regulating the way the system operates and guaranteeing its continuity, serving as the basis for other programs or applications, and allowing the interface with the user. They are usually built into the system at the factory.
  • app software. This is the name given to all the additional programs that are incorporated into the computer, already equipped with an operating system, in order to carry out an endless number of possible tasks: from word processors, spreadsheets, internet browsers, design applications or video games.

The sum of hardware and software completes the entirety of any computer system.

Hardware and software examples

Some hardware examples:

  • Monitors or projectors. Where information and processes are displayed to the user, they are considered output hardware, although there are already touch monitors (which would then be mixed peripherals).
  • Keyboard and mouse. Input peripherals par excellence, they allow user data entry: through buttons (keys) and through movements and buttons, respectively.
  • Webcams. Also calls webcamsSince they became popular with the arrival of the Internet and videoconferences, they allow the entry and transmission of audio and video through the system.
  • Microprocessorit is. The core of the CPU (The Central Processing Unit) is a very powerful microchip, which performs thousands of logic calculations per second.
  • Cards network. These integrated circuits to the CPU motherboard give you the ability to interact with data networks remotely, whether through cables, radio signal, etc.

Some software examples:

  • Microsoft Windows. Probably the most popular of the operating systems used today, it is typical of IBM computers. It allows the user to manage and interact with the different segments of a computer, through a friendly user environment, based on windows and visual representation.
  • Mozilla Firefox. An extremely popular Internet browser, available for download without payment. Connects the user to the World Wide Web, to perform data searches and other types of virtual operations.
  • Microsoft Word. Part of the Microsoft Office package, it is a word processor of the most recognized that there is, and includes tools for business, database management, presentation preparation, among others.
  • Google Chrome. Another Internet browser, offered by the Google company, whose lightness and speed quickly made it popular with Internet users. In addition, it opened the door to projects for a Google operating system.
  • Adobe Photoshop. An acquaintance image editing and visual content development application, useful for graphic design and photo retouching, a product of the company Adobe Inc.