How did you combine hardware and software

Hardware & software: the difference and the connection simply explained

Date: | Hardware, software

Modern computers consist of many individual parts that all have to pull together so that complex calculations or processes are even possible. They are divided into the categories of hardware and software, which in combination form the basis of today's information technology. In this article we will explain and show you the difference, how the interaction works.

  • The first hardware existed more than 1000 years before Christ in the form of the "Abacus" calculating machine, which has been continuously improved over the years. The Von Neumann architecture used in modern hardware, however, has only existed since the middle of the twentieth century.
  • Due to the advancing development of the “Internet of Things” (IoT), even household appliances such as washing machines, stoves or refrigerators are now operated with the help of software.
  • Hardware and software are team players: One only works in conjunction with the other.


1. Hardware can be touched

All connectable parts are called external hardware.

The term hardware covers all the physical components of a computer or smartphone, basically everything that can be touched. The main components, the so-called computer hardware, include:

  • Motherboard with the CPU socket and the card slots
  • Processor (CPU)which determines the speed of your computer
  • Random Access Memory (RAMthat temporarily saves running applications and processes
  • hard diskwhere you put your files and programs
  • graphic cardthat translates your PC's processes into understandable graphics and characters
  • Input devicese.g. mouse and keyboard that you use to communicate with your computer.

In addition, however, belong to the hardware also all components that react to mechanical or electrical impulsessuch as the screen, printer and fax machines, USB sticks or other peripherals. They are also called "External hardware" designated. An explanation of the structure of a PC as well as other interesting information on the individual hardware components can also be found in this article.

Good to know: Notebooks and desktop PCs differ in terms of hardware design due to their different sizes, but the core components always remain the same.

2. The declaration for software

The software is the counterpart to the hardware and is called all non-physical componentsa computer. This includes all Programs required for system operation and information processing, as well as all data that are generated with it.

In addition to the operating system also

  • The BIOSwith the help of which the computer can even start up.
  • The ones required for the operation of the hardware and devicesDriver.
  • All applications and programssuch as office programs or games.
  • The ones saved on the computer Files (e.g. documents, music, pictures or videos)

In contrast to the hardwaresoftware is easier to change: It does not require any modification of the computer, but is simply installed on the device or uninstalled.

Nothing works without BIOS or UEFI: it boots up your computer and initiates the start of the operating system.


If software is developed for certain products and "embedded" on it, one speaks ofEmbedded software engineering". As "Embedded software"Or"Firmware“She takes over the control of the system and takes care of the Interaction with the environment. This form can be found, for example, in on-board computers in cars, in navigation systems or in entertainment devices such as MP3 and DVD players. The special: "Embedded software" can only be operated on the hardware for which it was programmed and is not compatible with other systems.

Good to know: From a purely economic point of view, the term “software” includes not only the components of the program code, but also the licenses and documentation required for operation.

3. How does the interaction between hardware and software work?

There is hardware and softwareexclusively in a double pack: All actions of the computer are carried out by the hardware, but only the Cooperation with the softwaredefines the functional options and make it a working system.

For example, do you want your in Word vprint out captured text, you need a printer for this. Conversely, have a printer but not one Operating system with the appropriate drivers, your computer will also not be able to recognize it as such.

In short: the software tells the hardware what to do. If we compare a computer system with a human being made of flesh and blood, the hardware would correspond to the body with its skeleton, muscles and tendons. The software, on the other hand, is responsible for management and thus, so to speak, the computer's brain.

The software also makes a not insignificant contribution to the efficient use of the built-in hardware. For example, depending on the selected operating system and the installed drivers Different system performance on identical hardware configurationsachieve.

The briefest definition of the two components can be found here:

  • Hardware ("hard goods") are all physical components, i.e. everything that you can touch with your hands.
  • Software: ("soft goods") are all immaterial things, i.e. everything that you cannot touch with your hands.

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Hardware & software: the difference and the connection simply explained
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