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Hardware | What is it, examples and characteristics

The hardware It is the physical or tangible support of a computer system as opposed to software. We describe what hardware is, what it is for, its types, features, and more.

What is the hardware?

In computing the hardware It is the tangible physical part that is part of a computer system, it is in that sense that it refers to electronic, electrical, electromechanical and mechanical components. In turn, peripherals, cables, cabinets or boxes, as well as other physical elements are included as part of the hardware category. In that sense it is a term that is opposed to software which is the support of the logical components.

What is the hardware for?

Being the physical support or that can be touched, the hardware it is necessary for a computer system to even exist. Likewise, it is the component that allows the storage or execution of the logical components of the software, which will send instructions to the hardware to be executed.

In that order of ideas, the hardware is the one that works in a computer system at a physical level, but without its participation the software could not even exist. The software instructions are implemented by the hardware, highlighting that this applies to both a computer and other devices: smartphones, smartwatch, video game consoles, etc.

Hardware classification

One of the ways that you classify hardware types it is:

  • Main Hardware – Here are included all the components that are essential to give a minimum functionality to the device.
  • Complementary hardware – It is used to carry out specific functions or tasks, which are not necessarily basic and which are not strictly necessary for the device to function.

Hardware types

Now, computing devices are electronic devices that can interpret and execute instructions that have been programmed and stored in their memory. Likewise, they basically consist of arithmetic-logical and input / output operations. Data is received as inputs, processed and stored, to finally produce outputs.

  • Prosecution – They are the elements that are dedicated to processing and storing the data or inputs that are given in the computer system.
  • Storage – Corresponds to the memories or where those data that have previously entered are stored.
  • Entry – They are the peripherals that allow the data to be received by the device for further processing or storage.
  • Departure – The output peripherals are used to produce the outputs or the results of the processing.
  • Entrance exit – There are mixed peripherals that can fulfill both an input and output function, depending on what is required of them.

Hardware history

There are four different generations that can be identified as part of the evolution of hardware, which are marked in a considerable way by the specific technological advances of their time and how it was revolutionized.


  • First generation – It occurs between 1945 and 1956, where the first calculation machines emerged that did not work with relays, but used vacuum tubes.
  • Second generation – Between 1957 and 1963. In this case, electronics is applied by means of transistors, so the overall size is reduced for computers considerably.
  • Third generation – From 1964 to date an electronics of integrated circuits has been presented, which are printed on silicon tablets.
  • Fourth generation – There is talk of a future generation for hardware in terms of devices that can overcome these silicon plates and that can venture into formats that are new at a computational level. For now it’s mostly speculation.

Hardware examples

  1. Processors
  2. RAM memory modules
  3. Keyboards
  4. Monitors
  5. Video cards
  6. Electrical circuits
  7. Printers
  8. Modem
  9. Faxes
  10. Sound cards
  11. Multimedia cameras
  12. Touchscreens
  13. Headphones
  14. Electric batteries
  15. Cards of red
  16. Mouse
  17. Pendrive
  18. Speakers

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