The computer is an electronic device that can be programmed to manipulate information or data. It can process, store and retrieve data. It responds in a well defined manner to a prerecorded set of instructions. A general-purpose computer requires some basic hardware components in order to be able to function: a mass storage device which allows the computer to retain large amount of data, in the form of one or more hard disk drives; a motherboard that acts as a hub between the various hardware components; memory in the form of RAM circuits that allow the computer to temporarily store data; input devices that allow a user to enter instructions and information in a computer, usually a keyboard and a mouse; a central processing unit which is the hardware component that actually executes the various instructions; an output device, mainly a computer monitor that lets the user visualize everything the computer has accomplished.
However all these parts wouldn’t be of much use unless you add its counterpart, namely the software. The software is the opposite of the hardware. While the hardware represents all of the physical parts that you can touch and feel, the software represents the parts of the computer that you can’t touch, meaning the programs that you use when you spend time at your computer. When people talk about software they often refer only to a part of it. Think about the operating system (Windows, Linux, Solaris etc.), the program you use to listen to music, the internet browser you use (Internet explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape, Safari, Opera etc.), the program that you write your Curriculum Vitae in (Microsoft Word, Open Office, Notepad, WordPad etc.) and other similar programs. All these programs are part of what is called software. But these are only a part of the computer software; more exactly this is what we see of the computer software with the help of a hardware component, the computer monitor. The other part of the computer software consists of a slightly different type of computer software. This part of the software hides behind the rest of the computer software. I’m referring to the programs that have been written for the various computer hardware parts and help the computer process and do everything that we tell it to do. This part of the software is written in machine code that the computer hardware parts can understand.
Can you see the relationship between hardware and software now? The computer hardware components are similar to the human body, while the programs that constitute the software part of the computer is similar to the human soul. If one of them is missing the other dies, or in our case the absence of one of them makes the other useless and without purpose. This is why computer hardware and software are considered inseparable. If you wander why I used this comparison it is quite simple. The computer is the scientific equivalent of the human being. Just as the human body gets old and is prone to physical damage so is the computer hardware. The electric power that brings to life all of the computer’s systems is similar to the blood that flows through our bodies.
Computer hardware will never find a use without software, while the computer software fulfills it’s purpose only in the bowels of the computer hardware parts.