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The three main Components of a computer system

Do not get confused when you hear the components of a computer. Whenever a lot of people think of the components of a computer, they most at times think of the hardware components as the main components. Let me make it very simple and straight forward for you.

There are three main components of a computer. These are;

a. Hardware

b. Software

c. Liveware

Let’s now take them one after the other.


The hardware components of a computer are the physical items of the computer you can actually touch. The main hardware components include; the monitor, system unit, keyboard and mouse. There are other peripherals like an external hard drive, printer, speaker and any other item that can be attached to the computer whether with a cable or through wireless connection.

The system unit also contains some vital internal hardware components like;

  • Motherboard
  • Hard Drive
  • Random Access Memory(RAM)
  • CPU
  • Video Card
  • CD ROM
  • Fan
  • Universal Serial Bus(USB) Ports
  • Floppy Disk Drive, etc.

Among all the above internal hardware components that are found within the system unit mentioned, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) also known as Processor is considered the most important and some computer users even refer to it as the brain of the computer. This is because it carries out almost all the processes that go on in the computer’s system. The CPU has two main components which are the Control Unit and Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU). The control unit extracts instructions that has been sent to the memory and executes them while the Arithmetic Logic Unit (ALU) takes care of the arithmetic and logical processes.

The other components in the system unit have their functions as well. The motherboard has a CPU socket for holding the CPU, a slot for the main memory, slot for graphics/video card and all the connectors to the other hardware components of the computer. The hard drive stores data/information permanently, the RAM stores data temporarily to be accessed randomly for processing, the fan reduces the heat produced by the CPU, etc.


Software is a set of instructions or programs which instructs the computer to perform a particular task at a particular time. The computer user controls the software as to what to do at which time as it is controlled by the press of a key on the keyboard or the click of a mouse button. Unlike hardware, software can’t be touched but works in the system of the computer.

Softwares have been categorised into two main types ;

  • System software
  • Application software

System software is a software that interacts and controls the computer hardware directly and also serves as a platform for application software to operate. The commonest example is operating system like the Microsoft Windows (i.e. Windows Xp,7,8,8.1,10 etc) and MacOs. There are other system softwares like the device drivers; these drivers control all devices attached to the computer. In oder for any attached device to work, it must have at least a corresponding device driver installed in the computer’s system. Some of the operating systems come with device drivers already attached to them so you don’t need to install any device driver after installing such an operating system. Utilities; these are programs that aid the maintenance of the computer.

Application software is a software that is designed to use the system software as its platform to perform other functions.Application software is mostly called Application or App and it adds a lot more functionality to the computer’s operations.An application cannot work without a system software. Some common examples of application software are;

  • Browser App (egs. Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc)
  • Word Processor App (eg. MS Word)
  • Media player App (eg. Vlc media player)
  • Spreadsheet App (eg. MS Spreadsheet)
  • Photo Editing App (eg. Photoshop) and a lot more.

NB: A computer will not function properly or may not function at all without system software but can perform to some extent without application software.

There are other types of software like Malicious software (malware) which is designed by dirty minded hackers to either commit a computer crime or cause damage to a computer’s system and the Programming software which is a special software used by software developers to update or create other software.


Liveware is simply the user of a computer who some people also referred to as humanware. Before a computer turns on or starts operating, it requires the push of a button, a press on a key or a click on a button. All the actions mentioned above are carried out by the computer user and that is what makes the computer user an important part of the computer system.


In all, a computer system has three main components; the hardware, software and Liveware. The hardware components are the physical items you can touch, the software components are the programs that instructs the hardware components to perform a particular task and the Liveware is the user of the computer. They are the main components because without one part, the computer will not work. They all need each other to make up the computer.

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