Chapter 5, Basic Computer Principles, of the book Cybersecurity for the Home and Office takes the reader through the foundations of how computers work and the basic parts of a computer. The book has some diagrams, but couldn't contain photos, so here are some photos to assist the reader to learn about computers.
A desktop computer is a helpful model to discuss computer components. I disassembled an older desktop computer and took photos throughout. A newer computer may have different ports, and newer components, but will be similar. A laptop computer, and even a tablet, and smartphone have similar components, they are simply packed very tightly together.
Section c. Computer hardware: Summary of basic computer parts.
Inside of case
This is what the inside of a desktop computer looks like. Many parts, but if one part fails, or if you want to upgrade it, it can be done simply. You can see the CD/DVD drive, Hard Disk Drive, power supply, and motherboard.
ii. Power supply
In a desktop, the power supply is large, with a fan, and converts your house AC current into DC current for the computer. There are multiple wires that feed power to all the components in the desktop, such as hard drive, motherboard, CD/DVD drive, fans, and more.
A display is just a monitor or screen. You know what that is and are using one to view this website.
a. Video cable. These are different types of video cables that communicate from the computer to your display (monitor). There are many different types of connectors, check what your computer and monitor require. Common types are HDMI, DP (Display Port), DVI (not pictured), VGA (not pictured) and analog cables.
b. Video card. A computer processor on the motherboard that assists with video image processing.
c. Video driver. Software that drives the video card and communicates with the display.
iv. Ports: USB, Parallel, Serial, VGA, DVI, HDMI, DP
v. Input devices (keyboard, mouse, and more)
You know what a keyboard and mouse looks like so I didn't include photos here. Note that a touch screen is an input device too, as is a microphone. Speech recognition is becoming common, as are voice activated assistants like Siri and Alexa.
vi. Network interface controller (NIC)
This is integrated on the motherboard, and connects to the Ethernet port.
vii. Processor (central processing unit, CPU, microprocessor)
The chip that does the calculations which attaches to the motherboard. It's held in place with a strong clip. It gets really hot from all the thinking it does, so it is attached with special paste to a heat sink and fan which help cool it. Watch here as I remove it from the desktop.
viii. RAM (random access memory)
Where information is temporarily stored by the computer, located on the motherboard. Upgrading (increasing) your RAM is a relatively simple do-it-yourself technique provided you do your research ahead of time.
Removing RAM cards from the motherboard.
Here I remove the motherboard from the computer. You can see the motherboard has the ports on it, which connect to components on the motherboard (including NIC, Video Card, etc). In these pictures, I have already removed the RAM and CPU from the motherboard. The motherboard is a printed (integrated) circuit board, there are wires inside the motherboard that connect the various chips and components to each other. No external wires are needed to connect components within the circuit board, but wires are of course needed to connect to other components in the computer, such as power, hard disk drive, CD/DVD drive, etc.
Pictures of the motherboard as it is removed from the case and at various angles. All of the ports you plug into are actually attached to the motherboard.
x. Internal data storage
a. Hard disk drives (HDD). The main long term storage in a computer, though computers are available now with SSDs instead of HDDs. (soon to be replaced by SSD). Stores data even when the power is off. Here, you get a look inside the workings of a HDD.
b. Solid state drives (SDD). A newer technology to store data long term, an alternative to an HDD. The insides of these look a lot like RAM chips (pictures coming).
c. Hybrid drives. A storage system comprised of both an HDD and SDD.