That Blue Square Thing

Syllabus content:
PDF iconTextbook double page – for everything on this page
This section is quite straightforward, although there are some definitions and a list to learn. All of it fits on one double page.

AQA Computer Science GCSE

This page is up to date for the AQA 8525 syllabus for exams from 2022.

4.1 Computer Systems – Hardware, Software and Operating Systems

Computer systems are made up of hardware and software.

Hardware is simply any physical component that makes up the computer system. This might include the monitor, keyboard and mouse on a PC as well as the circuit boards and memory inside the machine. Not every system has all of this hardware – simple, embedded systems (such as those in a microwave oven or a supermarket till) might have much less hardware that a user can interact with.

Software is the programs that run on the hardware.

PDF iconComputer Systems, Hardware and Software Introduction – slides from class

Input and Output Devices

Some elements of hardware are designed to be interacted with by users. This can be to either input data into the system or to receive outputs from the system. These types of hardware are called I/O devices – meaning input/output devices.

Input devices allow users to input data into the computer system. These devices include keyboards, mice, touchscreens, microphones, fingerprint readers, cameras, game controllers and any other type of device where data can be inputed via buttons, switches or in any other way.

Output devices are any piece of hardware which allows the computer system to provide feedback of some kind to the user. Most simply these include screens, printers and speakers/headphones. Any kind of LED or sound is also an output device, as is the movement received from a device such as a game controller (an example of haptic feedback). Embedded systems such as the computers in dishwashers will provide feedback in a different way to a standard computer system.

Note that some I/O devices will be used for both input and output – for example, a touch screen or a game controller.

Types of Software

You need to know the differences between application software and system software. Examples will help when you come to answer questions on this.

PDF iconTypes of Software – application and system software

Operating Systems

And you need to be able to explain what an Operating System does. Some of this will make a little more sense once you understand what's going on inside the computer.

Utility software comes in here as well in a quite sneaky way. It's a bit of a mix between application and system software.

PDF iconOperating systems and utility software – slides

PDF iconOperating systems and Utility Software examples – screenshots to illustrate this

A Multiple Choice Test

A quick multiple choice test to check your understanding of some of the key defintiions.

Test iconHardware & Software Multiple Choice Testwiki link

No need to be logged in or submit your details to do this. You should be able to complete it multiple times.