• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 2. Hardware Basics > Before Hardware

Before Hardware

The first thing to consider before hardware is the operating system (OS). For personal computers, there are three basic versions of an OS. There is the Windows family, the UNIX family (which includes Linux), and the Macintosh OS (which runs only on Apple hardware). An OS manages the hardware and software resources—processor chip memory, disk space, where and how to store data—and it gives software application programs a consistent way to interface with the hardware so that different programs don't have to be specific to the differences in the hardware. Another thing the OS does is gives the software developers a similar format, the application program interface (API). This lets a software developer write a program that will run on many different computers, no matter what configuration it may be or what might be added. This flexibility is important. The OS manages the hardware and the resource allocation, and makes sure everything runs smoothly. As well, the OS provides a consistent graphical user interface (GUI) for the user. (All programs will have a similar pull-down menu, help command, save function, etc., so that each program doesn't have wildly different commands, as they did in the dark ages in the beginning of computing.)

All computers work in layers, for example:

Hardware— IBM-compatible PC (Personal Computer)

OS— Microsoft DOS and/or Windows

GUI— Windows was initially a GUI for DOS

Programs— Microsoft Word



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint