Basic Computer Hardware
Static Charge – Buildup of electricity on people or objects that can damage the circuits on a circuit board and
must be dispersed prior to touching a circuit board.
Card – Flat plastic wafer boards containing circuits, capacitors, and other electronic devices. Different cards
may perform different functions such as, networking, modem transmission, memory, etc… Plug into the
Connector (Plug) – An object at the end of a cable that connects the cable to a device.
Drive – Device for reading or writing data, hard disk drive, floppy disk drive, compact disk drive are various
Jumper – Small plastic covers with a metal core that connect electronic circuits used to set certain functions of a
Mother Board – The main circuit board inside the computer to which all other components attach.
Mount – Bracket or slot that holds a device in place.
Power Cables – Small round cords (typically black, yellow, and red) that originate from the power supply and
end in connectors.
Power Supply – Receives electric power from a power cord plugged into a wall outlet. Can retain a dangerous
electric charge even when unplugged.
Processor – A computer chip that processes the commands sent to the computer.
Ribbon Cable – The flat, gray, cable that connects devices to the motherboard. Red line denotes pin #1.
Riser Board – A board extending from the motherboard with multiple connectors available for efficient
placement of other cards, typically only found in proprietary systems.
IRQ (Interrupt Request Line) – Hardware lines over which devices can sent interrupt signals to the processor.
ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) - The primary structure for expansion slots used in computers prior to the
early 1990s. Typically made of black plastic and only accepting ISA cards. Utilizes a 32-bit bus.
PCI (Peripheral Component Interface) – The common structure for expansion slots used in computers today.
PCI began to replace ISA structures in the early 1990s. Typically made of white plastic and only accepts PCI
cards. Developed by Intel. Utilizes a 64-bit bus.
AGP (Advanced Graphics Port) – Expansion slot structure for video cards supporting 3D graphics. Older video
cards come in both PCI and ISA structures. Typically made of brown plastic and only accepts AGP cards.
Developed by Intel.
RAM (Random Access Memory) – Refers to the temporary memory of a computer that is available only when
the computer is turned on as opposed to permanent memory such as the hard drive or other disk or tape storage.
The RAM comes in the form of small cards that plug into the motherboard.
SIMM (Single Inline Memory Module) – One of the earlier forms of RAM. Must be used in pairs of identical
DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module) – A form of RAM newer than SIMM.
DRAM (Dynamic RAM) – A form of RAM newer than DIMM.
SDRAM (Synchronous Dynamic RAM) - A form or RAM newer than DRAM.
DDR SDRAM (Double-data Rate SDRAM) – A form of RAM newer than SDRAM.
IBM Twist – A special modification made to the ribbon cable for a floppy drive that determines the drive letter.
Flat and Phillips Screwdrivers
Observe as Wes identifies the cards and devices inside the computer. After he is finished, you will be
doing the same thing in your three groups.
Using the paper and pen, draw a diagram of where the cards and other devices are placed in relation to
the motherboard. For example, on your drawing count and number the slots on the motherboard and identify
where the cards are placed. If you were to remove all the cards and devices and replace them, the computer
would recognize any items that are not in the same location and treat them as new devices.
Hands-On – Remember to first disperse any static charge, and then open the case and identify the drives and
cards inside the computer while enhancing the detail of your diagram if needed and naming all the parts. Ask if
you have any questions. Following the break you will be asked to solve a computer hardware problem that will
be introduced to you when you return.
When obtaining and installing a replacement device, check with the sales person to assure you have a
compatible device/card and make sure you receive an instructions booklet and a disk containing the necessary
drivers. Remember to turn off and unplug the computer before opening the case. Discharge any static charge
you may be carrying. Read and follow the instructions booklet that typically outlines the following:
Install the device/card properly after reading all the instructions.
Turn on the computer and load the necessary drivers from the disk.
Keep all the receipts from your purchase in case the device/card you obtained is faulty, incompatible, or
otherwise non-functional. Use any toll free phone number(s) to obtain additional instructions or assistance not
covered clearly in the booklet.