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A computer is a programmable machine that receives input, stores and automatically manipulates data, and provides output in a useful format.

Mechanical examples of computers have existed through much of recorded human history. The first electronic computers were developed in the mid-20th century (1940 - 1945). Originally, they were the size of a large room, consuming as much power as several hundred modern personal computers (PCs).

Modern PCs normally have the following main components:

  • A display, known as a monitor. This is the main form of output to the user.
  • A keyboard and mouse, the main forms of input by the user.
  • Storage drives or disks, where data is stored long term. The following are typical types:
    • Optical - CD, DVD and Blu-Ray
    • Hard disks
    • USB/Thumb/Jump - highly portable storage that plugs directly into the USB port.
    • Cards - SD, CompactFlash, and others; typically requires a card reader. Also used in "portable electronics", like MP3 players and digital cameras.
  • Power Supply Unit
  • Motherboard with CPU
  • Graphic system, aka, video card (this is where a GPU might be found).
  • Sound system:
    • a sound 'card'
    • an internal speaker
    • external speakers
    • microphone
  • Networking devices, such as:
    • WiFi
    • modem
    • Network 'card'

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