“Hardware” is a word whose various meanings defined different eras in our history. In the olden days, “hardware” described farm tools, iron fittings and accessories that the village blacksmith fashioned from his hammer and anvil. With the onset of the two world wars, military jargon expanded the definition of the word to include armaments and war machinery. Then, with the reconstruction period that followed in the post war years, the word “hardware” generally referred to metal parts, appurtenances and other items used in construction work. In today’s modern world, the ubiquitous word brings to mind a technological wonder that is fast shaping the future—the computer.
Today’s computer age spawned the term “computer hardware,” that had become all too familiar to young and old alike. How far the various categories of computer hardware have evolved in recent years is simply mind-boggling.
The keyboard, for example, had always been known as an input hardware. But technological advances translated into reality newfangled computer hardware that resided in the realm of our imagination just two decades ago. Erstwhile futuristic input hardware such as bar code scanners, touch screens, voice recognition devices and digitizers suddenly seem to make everything much easier to do.
Similarly, storage hardware such as the memory card and hard disc that respectively provide the means of storing temporary and permanent data and instructions have evolved exponentially. From a capacity of a few thousand bytes of data and instructions in the early days of the computer, today’s storage hardware have become smaller yet surprisingly capable of storing hundreds of billions of bytes.
The biggest leap in computing technology is in the area of processing hardware, whose purpose is to retrieve, interpret and direct the execution of instructions. It is hard to imagine that today’s affordable home computer systems have a processing speed a thousand times faster than the bulky, room-sized computers that were custom-made four decades ago for industrial and military applications.
Not to be left behind are output hardware such as monitors and printers that provide the means to view the information processed by the computer. Not too long ago, we strained our eyes looking at grayscale monitors and reading printouts produced by noisy dot matrix printers. Today, we enjoy high resolution colour monitors and high speed laser printers that produce stunningly clear print-outs.
More astounding is the replacement of miles of wires that make up the circuitry of yesterday’s computers by the modern microchip the size of your thumbnail.
The popularity of the term “computer hardware” lies not in their indispensable presence in our daily lives. It resides more on the knowledge that our creative ability stretches as far as the limitless bounds of our imagination as we strive to find ways to do things better and cheaper. The computer hardware that makes our work easier is a testament to this fact.
Charlie is a free lancer writer and content builder of many Technology sites and he is sharing his experience regarding how laser printer works.