Updated date:

The Four Functions of a Computer

Alfred is a long-time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

The four functions of a computer actually explain the core reasons why it was built. They include:

  • Data input
  • Data processing.
  • Information output.
  • Data and information storage.
An illustration of the four functions of a computer

An illustration of the four functions of a computer

To illustrate the four functions of a computer, we can take a look at the basic steps we all go through to produce a LETTER on the computer.

It starts when the user composes, inputs and edits sets of letters, numbers and symbols using a keyboard. The raw data is then processed and viewed real-time via display hardware.

Finally, the user may choose to print the letter onto paper, or better still send it via electronic mail to designated recipients.

The same data and information can be retained digitally in disk drives and other media for future reference.

1. Data Input

Every computer is designed with data input as a first function, an activity which is accomplished via input devices.

Data entry is done manually, automatically or both. Manual input is done via add-on peripherals like the keyboard, mouse and stylus. Input can also be accomplished via vocal dictation applications and body gestures peripherals like Kinect and biometric devices. Elsewhere, data input is also done using secondary storage media and networking interfaces.

Application software used for this purpose will also dictate what data is entered. Word processing software is designed to input basic alphanumerical data, while a photo editing application is used to input and manipulate images.

This data may be entered into a database, spreadsheet or other forms of a computerized work area.

Automated applications and robotics can also be used to intelligently feed data into the computer on station or remotely. As an example, tallying of electoral process can be accomplished remotely and automatically.

Laptop keyboard and touchpad

Laptop keyboard and touchpad

2. Data Processing

Data processing is the core function of a computer. Processing involves manipulation of raw data into before converting it into meaningful information. Usually, data is in raw form, and will thus undergo processing before dissemination for user consumption.

The 'brain' of the computer where data is processed is referred to as the microprocessor. It is also commonly known as the central processing unit (CPU) or accelerated processing unit (APU).

The processing chips in modern personal computing devices continue to evolve and outperform its predecessors. One particular evolution is the merger of microprocessor and graphics processing unit (GPU) into what is now known as accelerated processing unit. The merger allows for the integration of powerful graphics processing abilities inside the traditional arithmetic and logical computations of the processor.

Besides the microprocessor, the dynamic random access memory (DRAM) and static random access memory (SRAM) are integral parts of data processing. Data entered via input devices is stored temporarily in DRAM, then transferred to SRAM from where the microprocessor manipulates it.

An AMD microprocessor, inserted onto a laptop motherboard socket

An AMD microprocessor, inserted onto a laptop motherboard socket

3. Information Output

When raw data has been manipulated by the microprocessor, the outcome is meant to be disseminated for useful purposes. The output is thus referred to as information and is beneficial to the computer user.

Processed data or information can be,

  • viewed as alphanumeric, images and video via a display hardware
  • listened to as audio files by use of a speaker
  • printed as hard copy output onto paper
  • printed as 3D models
TV output on a computer screen

TV output on a computer screen

4. Data and Information Storage

The fourth and equally very important function of a computer is data and information storage. After sleepless nights of video and animation creation and editing, the user wants to have the finished product stored for future dissemination and additional editing.

A computer can store information internally and externally. The hard disk drive (HDD) and/or solid-state disk drive (SSD) are internal storage devices and serve to protect and house all data and information on a computer. In bigger systems, the RAID system is used. Multiple disk drives operate simultaneously to ensure data and information integrity.

External storage is achieved through accessories that attach externally to the computer. They include external drives and optical disks.

Better still data and information can be stored online in cloud solutions for a fee or for a fee if large space is required.

Storage integrity is a crucial phase that can actually determine the worth of a computer system. In any case, what use is a computer without data and information?

Information created in the computer can be stored onto CDs and DVDs

Information created in the computer can be stored onto CDs and DVDs

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2013 Alfred Amuno

Comments

Nashy on July 02, 2020:

Wow thanks..these has helped me a lot

Geoffrey Eric nojiri on February 24, 2020:

Am glad cose this portal helps me alot to solve my assingmet and some reserch

Jessica on February 05, 2020:

I am very thankful. it helped me a lot in my homework. I hoped there was the exact definition too.

thanks on December 04, 2019:

Thanks

wisdom sam on September 10, 2019:

wow this help, thanks

Anumeha Roy on August 26, 2019:

Nice answer.....but needs improvement !

Anup on August 05, 2019:

Fine

Hashimu on July 13, 2019:

Very like it

Amy on July 07, 2019:

Thanks a lot. It really helped

Alheri John on May 15, 2019:

good

franciska pius on May 03, 2019:

thanks a lot it meant a lot to me. i mean it really helped.

isah hassan on January 14, 2019:

what is the different between hard disk and solid state disk?

alex on November 05, 2018:

great work. you are a mentor.

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on September 12, 2018:

Thank you, Adam Ali and all those whose comments mean a lot. I am grateful the content is beneficial.

Adam ali nor on September 12, 2018:

Thanks for your helping us

David on September 06, 2018:

Thank you so much

ricky marodza zou zimbabwe on August 29, 2018:

great thank you so much

qandeel zahra on August 23, 2018:

explain working of function of computer?

Monika. ND on July 11, 2018:

Its very nice to see

Norman Muchemwa on June 27, 2018:

What are the four functions of a computer referring to hardware and software used to perform such functions

said dhorre on May 13, 2018:

input output memory processing

Harisankar on May 03, 2018:

Inputting is computer function

Franky on April 23, 2018:

Hello!

Anyone up to answer my question?

Here!

State 5function that a digital computer carry out?

Pema yangchen on April 10, 2018:

it was really helpful. Tank you

saadik on April 09, 2018:

Thank you sir for your help☺☺☺

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on April 04, 2018:

Thanks for appreciating and its good to know that results went your way.

I love informations on April 03, 2018:

Thanks for the information sir.i got high score on my test

Neighbor on March 08, 2018:

I love this, I will cite your work

Theman on March 02, 2018:

This is good alfred, SO GOOD!

Hassan on February 11, 2018:

This page help me to learn hardware components.

Thanks alot

HARMONEY on December 11, 2017:

nice information

St on November 17, 2017:

Thanks for your help

thanks it help me to access my assignment on September 19, 2017:

thanks it help me to access my assignment

Sa,ad musa muhammad on June 13, 2017:

Peace and conflict

Ratih Firdi from Indonesia on January 14, 2017:

thank nice article

jael on October 23, 2016:

good information like it

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on June 20, 2016:

Thanks for appreciating Alvin

Alvin on June 19, 2016:

THANK YOU!! I will cite your work =))

faheem on November 08, 2015:

good

Alfred Amuno (author) from Kampala on October 31, 2015:

Glad that you found the info herein helpful, Hope.

esmiralda hope on October 31, 2015:

OMG that is great cant wait for the test