The etymological origin of the term hardware that we are now going to analyze in depth, we find it clearly in English. And it is that it is made up of the union of two words of the Anglo-Saxon language: hard which can be translated as “hard” and ware which is synonymous with “things”.

The Royal Spanish Academy defines the hardware As the set of components that make up the material part (physical) of a computer, unlike the software what refers to logical components (intangibles). However, the concept is usually understood more broadly and is used to refer to all the physical components of a technology.

Physical components

The physical components make up the hardware of a computer.

Hardware in computing

In the case of computing and personal computers, the hardware allows defining not only the internal physical components (hard disk, motherboard, microprocessor, circuits, cables, etc.), but also to the peripherals (scanners, printers).

Hardware is usually distinguished between basic (the devices necessary to start the operation of a computer) and complementary (they perform certain specific functions).

Classification according to type

As for the hardware types, can be mentioned input peripherals (allow you to enter information into the system, such as the keyboard and mouse), the output peripherals (they show the user the result of different operations carried out on the computer. Example: monitor, printer), the input / output peripherals (modems, network cards, USB sticks), the central processing unit or CPU (the components that interpret instructions and process data) and the random access memory or RAM (used for temporary storage of information).


Hardware is essential for the operation of a notebook.

In the case of what is RAM, we must also emphasize that there is a classification of it into two large categories. Thus, on the one hand, we have what is known as dynamics, the set of cards that in computers are connected to the memory bus of the motherboard, and on the other hand there are the special ones. The latter, unlike the former, are not used in computers as central memory.

Among the latter, we should highlight VRAM (Video Random Access Memory), SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) and NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory).

Different generations of hardware

The history of hardware development, on the other hand, marks various milestones and stages. There is talk of a first generation (with glass tubes that housed electrical circuits), a second generation (with transistors), a third generation (which allowed hundreds of transistors to be packed into an integrated circuit of a silicon chip) and a Fourth generation (with the advent of the microprocessor).

Advances in studies on nanotechnology allows you to foresee the emergence of more advanced hardware in the coming years.

Free devices

In addition to all the information exposed so far, we cannot ignore what is known as free hardware. This is a concept of great importance in the sector as it refers to the set of devices that are characterized by the fact that anyone, either for free or by paying a certain amount, can publicly access what are your specifications.

Specifically, this type of hardware can be classified taking its nature as a starting point, which will lead to two categories (static or reconfigurable), or according to its philosophy. In the latter case we will find, for example, free hardware design or open source hardware.