The four components that all computers have in common are input, output, storage and processing, according to Intel's educational website. Input devices accept information into a computer, while output displays the information in a readable format. Storage involves items like discs or memory sticks that save data and the processor executes computer programming instructions.
The most common way data inputs to a computer is with a keyboard. A scanner, mouse and even a person's voice adds information to be processed in a computer. Copy machines and bar scanners also place information into a mainframe.
A luminous screen is the most obvious version of an output device. When someone types information on a keyboard, the information displays on a screen to be seen as letters and numbers interpreted by humans. Printers are another common way a computer outputs information, this time onto paper.
Storage refers to secondary storage media such as CD-ROMs or memory sticks. Storage differs from memory, which is the hardware that stores raw data before it is processed.
A processor consists of electronic circuits that interpret and execute computer programming instructions. This is part of the central processing unit. Powerful processors can perform billions of mathematical functions in one second.