How It Works
Most of us rely on computers every day - but how do they work?
A home computer consists of memory, integrated
circuits and a central processing unit to execute instructions and run software
for the user. Desktop computers use a separate monitor to view and interact with information and
graphics. These screens can use cathode ray tube (CRT - looks like an old TV
screen), liquid crystal display (LCD) or light emitting diode (LED) technology.
The user typically interacts with the computer through a keyboard and mouse.
Notebook and Laptop computers are smaller,
portable versions of the desktop computer with
the computer, screen, keyboard and mouse
contained within a single unit. Computers have ports to enable electronic
connection of other devices to enhance performance, computer memory and
What Can Go Wrong?
Computers are susceptible to computer viruses and power line disturbances that can
cause disruption of software, loss of data and hardware failure. Computers should always have antivirus
software installed, operating and updated. Power surges can damage or
even destroy your computer if you don’t have the proper protection. If data is
critical or is being used for a home-based business, the computer should be
connected through an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to insure continued
operation and proper shutdown during power line disturbances and interruptions.
Computers use up to 250 watts
(W) while operating and as much as 45 W when in sleep mode. If your desktop computer runs eight hours a day and sleeps the
rest of the time, it can consume up to 990 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, which
results in about 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year.