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Computer Lesson 4

What are All the Buttons, Sockets, and Slots Used For?

Take a look at the front and back of your computer case and count the number of buttons, sockets, and slots you see. Now, look at your monitor and count any that appear there. You probably counted approximately 20.

Each computer is different, therefore the buttons, slots, and sockets will vary from computer to computer; however, there are certain features you can expect to find on most desktop computers. Being familiar with the names of each and how they are commonly used will help you when the time comes for you to connect that new printer, mouse, digital camera, or other device.

Front of Computer Case

1. Power Button

The power button is used to power the computer on and off. Additionally, you can use the power button on some computers to place the computer in different energy-saving modes such as hibernate, sleep, and standby. It is a good idea to read your
manual to learn how these features work on your computer.

2. CD-ROM (Compact Disk Read-Only Memory)

A CD-ROM drive, also known as an optical drive, allows you to play a CD-ROM , just like a CD player allows you to listen to music. With a CD-ROM drive you can listen to music (if your computer is sound enabled), view files, and install software that is located on a CD. A CD writer is a device that can be used in conjunction with a CD-ROM drive and allows you to copy or burn information onto specific types of CDs called CD-RW (Compact Disk ReWritable) and CDR (Compact Disk-Recordable) discs.

3. DVD-ROM (Digital Versatile Disc Read-Only
Memory) Drive

A DVD-ROM drive, also known as an optical drive, reads DVD discs, all types of CDs, and can display movies from digital video discs. DVDs can hold more data than a CD, so they are a good storage option. A DVD burner is a device that can be used in conjunction with a DVD-ROM and allows you to copy information onto DVD discs. It is considered a type of storage.In many of the computers you can purchase today, the CD and DVD-ROM and/or burners are combined.

4. USB Port

The Universal Serial Port typically appears on the back of the computer case, but can sometimes be found on the front of the case, or hidden under a panel on the front of the case.

5. Audio In/Audio Out Every computer has a bank of audio ports where you can connect various devices, including speakers, microphones, headsets, and more.


Back of Computer Case

On the back of the computer case are connection ports that are made to fit specific devices. The arrangement of these vary from computer to computer, and many companies have their own special connectors for the specific devices. Some of the ports are color coded to match a color on the device, which will help you determine which port is used with a particular device.

Sample Computer Case

1. PS/2 Port

These ports are called PS/2 ports and are used for the mouse and keyboard. Many people refer to them as the mouse port or the keyboard port.

2. Ethernet Port

This port looks a lot like the modem or telephone port but it is actually wider. You can use this port for networking and also connecting to the Internet.

3. Audio In/Audio Out

Every computer has a bank of audio ports where you can connect various devices, including speakers, microphones, headsets, and more.
4. VGA Port

Your monitor can is connected to this port.

5. USB Port

The Universal Serial Bus port is one of the newest ports, but is also one of the most useful. These USB ports let you attach a variety of devices such as mice, printers, keyboards, web cameras, USB/flash drives, and digital cameras to your computer
quickly. Almost every peripheral made comes in a USB version, and installing the devices using USB ports is much easier than connecting devices using parallel and serial ports. This is primarily because USB ports do not require you to reboot
your computer before you can use the new device.

6. Parallel Port

The parallel port is one of the two original ports on the first personal computer. It is commonly known as the printer port since this port is used to connect your printer to your computer; however, with the rise in use of the USB ports, you can expect to see a decrease in the use of this port. Currently, a large number of parallel port printers are still manufactured and used on older computers that don’t have USB support.

7. Serial Port

The serial port is the other original port on the first personal computer. Serial ports can be used to plug in devices such as dial-up modems and other devices. On recent computers, the serial port has been replaced by the USB port. This is due to the fact that most peripherals use the USB drive.
8. Expansion Slots

These empty slots are where expansion cards are added to computers. For example, if your computer did not come with a video card, you could purchase one and insert it here. 

9. FireWire Port

FireWire is actually the Apple brand name for the IEEE 1394 port, but the term caught on and it this port is commonly referred to as the FireWire port. It is the standard port used with digital videocameras and high-resolution scanners. FireWire replaced the Parallel SCSI, but it is not on every computer; however, you can buy an adapter card to add FireWire ports to your computer. The labeled image does not include a FireWire port.


Peripherals You Can Use in Various Ports

  • Printers: A printer is a peripheral that is used to print, or produce, a version of what appears on the screen in a hardcopy format. There are many types of printers available including ink-jet, laser-jet, and photo printers. Also, combination printers that include scanners and copiers are increasing in popularity.
  • Scanners: A scanner allows you to copy an image or document and save it in electronic form onto your computer. While you can purchase a handheld and flatbed scanners, you are more likely to purchase a scanner as an all-in-one option that combines a scanner, printer, and copier into one product.
  • Scanners vary in resolution, or sharpness, so when shopping for one, be sure to compare the resolution of the products. A scanner is connected to the computer via a parallel port, a USB port, or a SCSI connection. No matter which connection is used, the images are stored on your PC's hard drive in a digital format.
  • Speakers/Headphones: Speakers and headphones are output devices, which means that they are devices that communicate information from the computer to the user. They allow you to hear sound and music. Both speakers and headphones connect to a computer; however, some computers are designed with speakers built into the monitor.
  • Microphones: A microphone is a type of input device, or a device that receives information from a user. You connect the microphone to the computer and use the computer to record sound or to communicate with another computer user via the Internet. Many computers come with builtin microphones.
  •  Web Cameras: Web cameras, or web cams, are devices that connect to a computer and display avideo image of whatever it is recording. This video image can be transmitted over the Internet, allowing a user in another location the ability to see the video in real-time. Web cameras are used often in business for video conferences, and are also a great tool for families to use to stay connected from different parts of the world.
  • Joystick or Game Controller: A joystick is a lever used while playing a computer game.
  • Digital Cameras: A digital camera lets you capture a picture in digital (computer-readable)form. You can transfer that image directly from the camera to the computer. When you use a digital camera, you can also preview your pictures before printing them. If you don't like what you see, you can edit or delete them.
  • Personal Digital Assistant (PDA): A PDA is a handheld computer that can have a variety of features including a calendar, Internet access, video recording, word processing, email access, phone, media player, and more. Most PDAs can be synchronized with a PC to allow up-to-date contact information stored on software such as Microsoft Outlook, RSS feeds, or other web updates.
  • l MP3 Players: An MP3 player is a portable device that stores, organizes, and plays audio files. The player can read files that are recorded from a CD using a computer, or downloaded from various sites via the Internet.