Four Basic Functions of a Computer System You Should Know

Get used to the Four Basic Functions of a Computer. However, computers are used for many things. Companies use them for managing their businesses, photographers for processing photos, authors for writing books, and gamers for playing virtual reality games.

Despite this diversity, all computers perform the four basic functions of data input, data processing, data output, and data storage.

Computer systems have two main components: hardware and software. The physical parts of the computer, such as the tower, monitor, and keyboard, are the hardware.

The software consists of the code that controls the hardware and tells it what to do. Computers are general-purpose information machines that can perform a variety of tasks on data.

A computer has hardware designed around performing these four basic functions as efficiently as possible.

Functions of a Computer

  1. Data is entered into the computer using Input Devices.
  2. Data or Instructions are stored in the computer in its memory and processed or used as and when required.
  3. That data is processed and converted into useful information.
  4. The output is generated as per format.
  5. Control Mechanism is established for controlling all the functions.

We can divide the computer into hardware and software

  1. Hardware: Keyboard, mouse, joystick, microphone, camera, printer, monitor, Hard disk, CD, DVD, CPU, motherboard, RAM, etc are known as Hardware.
  2. Software: System Software & Application Software.

Advantage of Computers

A Computer has a very High Speed of processing i.e can perform large amounts of data very quickly. Computers are very accurate. Computers are very fast devices.

Once the correct input is given to the computers, the output is 100% accurate. It has a large memory capacity. It can store a large amount of information for a large time. It’s a reliable device.

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Uses of Computers

Nowadays, it is used in every walk of life. It has an important role in industrial automation. Computers are playing a very important role in medical science, engineering, general education, government, and private organizations, film, and entertainment.

The Four Basic Functions of a Computer


In order for a computer to perform any function, it needs data. This is typically input through a keyboard, but there are also other ways of inputting data.

For example, data can be automatically fed from a LAN connection or a computer controlling a chemical process will read data sent to it from sensors in the plant.

Other ways of inputting data include downloading information, such as photographs from a camera or memory card for later processing.

This data is temporarily held in the computer’s random access memory (RAM) so that it can be processed.


Raw data in RAM needs to be processed into useful information. This is performed by the computer’s processor, also referred to as the CPU.

The CPU is a complicated piece of computer hardware made of thousands of tiny transistors built into a single integrated circuit and controlled by an operating system.

The CPU, together with the computer’s operating system and the program that’s running, takes data and processes it.

If working with an Excel spreadsheet, it calculates the output based on the formula programmed into the spreadsheet.

During gaming, the CPU projects the game onto the monitor and interprets commands as the user operates the controller. The CPU is an amazing piece of technology that represents the processing “brains” of a computer.


Output can be in many forms. It may simply be a letter shown on the monitor that’s printed onto paper or sent as an email attachment.

Alternatively, the output can be the skill of a gamer when defeating virtual enemies or a beautifully edited photograph. When viewing videos, the output is the images seen on the monitor as well as the soundtrack played over speakers.

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


Users often want to save the output. When a document is printed, it’s saved on paper. This was how the earliest computers worked, they printed their results onto paper tape.

However, this isn’t convenient if the output needs to be reused as it requires the inputting of information all over again.

This is why computers have hard drives that can store outputs so it’s easy to access information. Alternatively, it’s possible to store music on a USB drive, take it to a friend’s home and play it on their computer.

There are many other ways to store information, including using external hard drives or what is known as SSD drives, which have no moving parts and are incredibly fast.

Information can also be stored in the cloud using OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox, which are just a few of the many online storage facilities available.

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