NIC(Network Interface Card)


Short for Network Interface Card, a NIC is also commonly referred to as an Ethernet card and network adapter and is an expansion card that enables a computer to connect to a network such as a home network or the Internet using an Ethernet cable with a RJ-45 connector. The picture is an example of a SMC EZ Card 10/100 PCI network card, a network card commonly found in most desktop computers today that do not already have an onboard network on their motherboard. 

The second picture is another example of a network card, a PC Card SMC EZ Card 10/100 wireless network card. These cards are used in laptop computers that do not have a built-in wireless network.

Types of computer modem

Types of computer modems

Below are the three available versions of a computer Modem that can be used in computers. 

Internal modem that connects to a PCI slot inside a newer desktop computer or ISA slot on an older computer. The Internal Modem shown at the beginning of this document is an example of a PCI modem. 

External computer modemExternal modem is located within a box and is hooked up externally to the computer, usually the Serial Ports or USB port. 

Removable modem that is used with older laptops PCMCIA slot and is removed when you need the PCMCIA slot for another device, but are not planning on using the modem.



Short for MODulator/DEModulator, the first Modem known as the Dataphone, which was first released by AT&T in 1960. It later became more common for home users when Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington released the 80-103A Modem in 1977. 

The Modem is a hardware device that enables a computer to send and receive information over telephone lines by converting the digital data used by your computer into an analog signal used on phone lines and then converting it back once received on the other end. In the picture below, is an example of an internal expansion card modem. Click the image to get a description about each of the components found on the card.


FDD( Floppy Disk Drive)


A Floppy Disk Drive, or FDD or FD for short, is a computer disk drive that enables a user to save data to removable diskettes. Although 8″ disk drives were first made available in 1971, the first real disk drives used were the 5 1/4″ floppy disk drives, which were later replaced with 3 1/2″ floppy disk drives. Today, because of the limited capacity and reliability of floppy diskettes many computers no longer come equipped with floppy disk drives and are being replaced with CD-R, other writable discs, and flash drives.


Above is an example of each of the different floppy drives. As can be seen, the size of the floppy drive and the diskettes they use have decreased over time.

Differences between hardware and software

What are the differences between hardware and software?

Computer hardware is any physical device used in or with your machine, whereas software is a collection of code installed onto your computer’s hard drive; it is intangible. For example, the computer monitor you are using to read this text and the mouse you are using to navigate this web page is computer hardware. The Internet browser that allowed you to visit this page and the operating system that the browser is running on is considered software. 

Nearly all software utilizes hardware to operate properly. A video game, which is software, uses the computer processor (CPU), memory (RAM), and video card, all of which is hardware, to run. Word processing software uses the computer processor, memory, and hard drive to create and save documents. 

In a computer, hardware is what makes a computer work. A CPU processes information and that information can be stored in RAM or on a hard drive. A sound card can provide sound to speakers and a video card can provide an image to a monitor. All of this is hardware. 

On that same computer, software can be installed and allow a person to interact with the hardware. An operating system, like Windows or Mac OS, is software. It provides a graphical interface for people to use the computer and other software on the computer. A person can create documents and pictures using software.

Device driver

Device driver

More commonly known as a driver, a device driver or hardware driver is a group of software files that enable one or more hardware devices to communicate with the computer’s operating system. Without drivers, a hardware device such as a computer printer would not be able to work with the computer, which is why every hardware device in and connected to your computer has associated drivers. 

If the appropriate driver is not installed, the device may not function properly if at all. For Microsoft Windows users, a driver conflict or an error can be seen in the Device Manager. If problems or conflicts are encountered with a driver, the computer manufacturer or hardware manufacturer will release a driver updates to fix the problems.

Components of computer


When referring to hardware, a component or part is a piece of hardware that is part of a larger piece of hardware or system. For example, an integrated circuit can be considered a component of the motherboard and a video card can be considered a component of a computer. 

Full list of computer components 

Below is a list of all the major components of a computer, clicking any of the links below gives you further information and pictures. 

Chassis (case)

Disc drive: CD-ROM, CD-RW, DVD, Blu-ray

Expansion card (ISA, PCI, AGP, and PCI-X )

Fan (Heat sink)

Floppy drive

Hard drive: HDD, SSD

IDE cable (Data cable), new computers use SATA

Memory (RAM)

Motherboard (see page for full listing of motherboard components)

Power cable (Molex)

Power supply (PSU)

Processor (CPU)

Video card


Video card 

Alternatively referred to as a display adapter, graphics card, video adapter, video board, or a video controller, a video card is an internal circuit board that allows a display device such as a monitor to display images from the computer. 


In the picture above, is an example of a video card with three connections or video ports on the back, the standard VGA connector, S-Video connector, and the DVI connector. In this example, the card connects into the AGP slot on the computer motherboard. 

Video card expansion slots 

Over the development of computers, there have been several types of expansion slots used for video cards. Today, the most common expansion slot for video cards is PCIe, which is replacing AGP, which replaced PCI, which replaced ISA.

Sound card


Sound card 

Alternatively referred to as a sound board or an audio card, a sound card is an expansion card or integrated circuit that provides a computer with the ability to produce sounds that can be heard by the user either over speakers or headphones. Below is an image of the Creative Sound Blaster sound card and an example of what a sound card that connects to an expansion slot inside your computer may look like. 

he computer sound card is considered a peripheral, although the computer does not need a sound card to function almost every computer today will include a sound card in the expansion slot or on the motherboard (onboard). 

Sound card connections

The picture gives an example of what a sound card audio ports or audio jacks may look like on the back of your computer, associated colors, and the connector symbols usually found next to each of the connections.

  • Digital Out (White or Yellow) (words: “Digital” or “Digital Out”) – Used with surround sound or loud speakers.
  • Sound in or line in (Blue) (Arrow pointing into waves) – Connection for external audio sources, e.g. tape recorder, record player, or CD player.
  • Microphone or Mic (Pink) (Microphone) – The connection for a microphone or headphones.
  • Sound out or line out (Green) (Arrow pointing out of waves) – The primary sound connection for your speakers or headphones. This sound card also has a second (black) and third (orange) sound out connector.
  • Firewire (Not pictured) – Used with some high quality sound cards for digital video cameras and other devices.
  • MIDI or Joystick (15 pin yellow connector) – Used with earlier sound cards to connect MIDI keyboard or Joystick.

Tip: Usually the cables connecting to the devices are also color-coded and will match or be close to the colors the cables connect into. For example, the end of the speakers cord may have a green line or be completely green.