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  The Beginning   

Computer = PC (Personal Computer)
Computers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs but all operate the same way. In this section, I'll show you the parts that make up a computer and give you a general idea of what they do.

A PC consists of 4 standard parts: the computer chassis (the box), the monitor (viewing screen), the keyboard, and the mouse. Simple so far, right? But you would be surprised to know how many people think the monitor IS the computer and the box is simply the part that provides power or helps them get online.

: Some computers such as the IBM Vista or Apple iMac combine the box and screen into one piece.  Of course a laptop consists of, well, just the laptop. The computer chassis (the box) being the part that sits on your desk (or lap) and the monitor (viewing screen) being the part on the top that opens and stands vertically.

*Couch Potato Computer Analogy: Think of the box (the part that holds all of the components) as your cable TV box and the monitor (the visual aid that lets you see what's going on) as your TV. Along that same line, your keyboard and mouse would be your interactive/input tools much like your cable TV remote.

As I mentioned above, the computer chassis is the shell that holds all the components that make your computer work. It comes in different shapes, sizes and designs. It's an aesthetically pleasing housing for all the cables, wires, and chips that make up the computer. Now we'll take a look at a few parts inside the computer chassis and tell you what they do.

:  I'm using an older computer for this demonstration.  While the types of parts used in a computer are generally the same in every computer, there are different versions of those types depending on the kind of computer and the age.  (ie... Memory modules have gone from small, 3 inch sticks with 16MB memory to 5 inch sticks with GB memory today.  All the same type of part but a difference in technology.)

The motherboard (MOBO or main board) with the attached CPU is the brains of the system. It controls what comes in, what goes out, how information is processed, what you hear, what you see, and the speed at which all this happens.  It is a large circuit board containing various computer chips, slots for installing smaller circuit boards (including video, sound, modem, network, RAM, and CPU), and connectors for other devices (such as the hard drive, CD/ DVD drives, floppy drives, the keyboard, the mouse, and power supply). It also contains a system of little highways that go from component to component called the bus. This is how all incoming and process information gets to its destination. There are different kinds of motherboards but all work essentially the same way and require essentially the same components to work.

There is a small battery on the motherboard used to keep time and the information stored in the system BIOS (which I'll explain later) when  your computer is off.   Note: if you ever notice the clock on your computer is losing time or if the time and date seem to start over when you turn the computer on, your battery may need to be changed.

CPU (Central Processing Unit) or Microprocessor
The CPU does all the calculating and processing that makes the computer operate.  It is a square ceramic part that fits into that white block in the motherboard picture above.  It locks into place and a heat sink and fan are locked in on top of it in order to draw the heat away from the CPU. 
Note:  If the fan stops working, your CPU will likely burn up.

(Read Only Memory)
This computer chip is permanently attached to the motherboard and contains the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).  The BIOS contains information and settings, as well as, instructions the computer carries out when starting up.  This includes where to look for the boot device.   In this case, the boot device is the computer's hard drive.