The hardware is any tangible part of a computer, meaning all the electronic and mechanic devices, such as the cables, cabinets, entrance and exit devices, among others. The term “Hardware” comes from the English language, and is defined by as the “collection of the components that integrate the material part of a computer”; however, this terminology can be currently applied to other devices.
During the pass of time, the hardware has been evolving to adapt to the new technology that appears in each computer; at first, the change was perceived in a radical way, because during the first three generations, the technology world was in a high process of evolution. However, during the last years, the changes have not been as drastic as they were at first, because nowadays, software are much more important, which means that the hardware is adapting to the evolutionary process of the software.
How has the hardware evolved?
To focus in the evolution of hardware, each generation will be evaluated, which are mentioned as follows:
- First Generation (1945 – 1956): electronics are based in the implementation of empty tubes, which generated the first electronic evolution, which worked in computers and, as a consequence, it displaced the electro mechanic components.
- Second Generation (1957 – 1963): in this generation, the electronics are developed with the aid of transistors, which helped to reduce the physical components of the computer. The reasoning was similar to the one used in the former generation, but the result of implementing this technology was much more efficient, because the speed of data processing was increased significantly.
- Third Generation (1964 – nowadays): the electronics were based in integral circuits, which allowed sticking a great amount of transistors and other electronic components to an integral circuit, conformed by a silicon plaque. In fact, the size and cost of the computers was significantly reduced, increasing its capacity, speed and reliability, up to the point in which it became the computer that we use nowadays.
- Fourth Generation (the future): probably, it will produce in the moment in which the silicon circuits are replaced by another, more sophisticated technology, which will content integral circuits in a higher scale than the one used now.
How can software be classified?
Hardware can be classified in two main categories:
- Basic components: These components are indispensable for the computer, because they provide it with a reduced functionality.
- Complementary hardware: In this category we find those devices that are used to perform specific activities, which do not involve great relevance in the functioning of the computer.
In the same way, the internal part of the computer can be classified according to the devices:
- Processing: the CPU or central processing unit
- Storage: the memories
- Entrance: the entrance peripherals
- Exit: the exit peripherals
- Entrance / Exit: the mixed peripherals
According to the classification mentioned, the computer is organized in a specific way for each device; been the microprocessor the only general controller for all the devices, the one which will inform and integrate any data transmission performed.