Computer Science

Start Free Trial

What are the main functions of a computer?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Computers use inputs and outputs to do various tasks. Computers receive programs in various codes and use them to do complex tasks. The first computers were the size of a room and relied on a system of punch cards in order to receive data. As electronics have improved, computers have become smaller. Computers can now take a given input and return a set product quite quickly and in a lot less space.

Computers are also used to store data. This data is cataloged into the electronic hard drive of the computer or the computer can send it to "the cloud" where there is more data storage ability. This data can be used to track customer data, medical records, and a host of other things. Computers can also read data from external devices such as floppy disks, CD's, and Flash drives provided that they have the right programs downloaded to do so.

Computers can also communicate with each other if linked. This is probably one of the best-known functions of computers today as the Internet is a system of linked computers who communicate with each other.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A computer is a device that inputs, manipulates, stores, and outputs digital information based on stored instructions known as programs. 

The first main function of a computer is input/ output. This function is what enables the computer to communicate with external devices such as screens, printers, keyboards, the internet, or pointing devices. Without the abilities to communicate its results or stored information or to accept instructions, a computer would be useless.

The second main function a computer has is the ability to store data. This can be in either volatile or non-volatile storage using a variety of media, such as DVDs, CD ROMs, flash drives, hard drives, or even cloud storage.

Finally, a computer is able to manipulate digital data. Most computers operate on binary data, performing large numbers of very simple operations very quickly in order to perform complex tasks.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial