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User interface peripherals Linux kernel and gaming input-output latency.svg
User interface peripherals

A peripheral or peripheral device is "an ancillary device used to put information into and get information out of the computer". [1]

A computer is a machine that can be instructed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically via computer programming. Modern computers have the ability to follow generalized sets of operations, called programs. These programs enable computers to perform an extremely wide range of tasks. A "complete" computer including the hardware, the operating system, and peripheral equipment required and used for "full" operation can be referred to as a computer system. This term may as well be used for a group of computers that are connected and work together, in particular a computer network or computer cluster.

Three categories of peripheral devices exist based on their relationship with the computer:

  1. an input device sends data or instructions to the computer, such as a mouse, keyboard, graphics tablet, image scanner, barcode reader, game controller, light pen, light gun, microphone, digital camera, webcam, dance pad, and read-only memory);
  2. an output device provides output from the computer, such as a computer monitor, projector, printer, headphones and computer speaker); and
  3. an input/output device performs both input and output functions, such as a computer data storage device (including a disk drive, USB flash drive, memory card and tape drive).

Many modern electronic devices, such as internet capable digital watches, smartphones, and tablet computers, have interfaces that allow them to be used as computer peripheral devices.

Smartphone Multi-purpose mobile device

Smartphones are a class of mobile phones and of multi-purpose mobile computing devices. They are distinguished from feature phones by their stronger hardware capabilities and extensive mobile operating systems, which facilitate wider software, internet, and multimedia functionality, alongside core phone functions such as voice calls and text messaging. Smartphones typically include various sensors that can be leveraged by their software, such as a magnetometer, proximity sensors, barometer, gyroscope and accelerometer, and support wireless communications protocols such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and satellite navigation.

Tablet computer mobile computer with display, circuitry and battery in a single unit

A tablet computer, commonly shortened to tablet, is a mobile device, typically with a mobile operating system and touchscreen display processing circuitry, and a rechargeable battery in a single, thin and flat package. Tablets, being computers, do what other personal computers do, but lack some input/output (I/O) abilities that others have. Modern tablets largely resemble modern smartphones, the only differences being that tablets are relatively larger than smartphones, with screens 7 inches (18 cm) or larger, measured diagonally, and may not support access to a cellular network.

See also

Computer hardware physical components of a computer

Computer hardware includes the physical, tangible parts or components of a computer, such as the cabinet, central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card, speakers and motherboard. By contrast, software is instructions that can be stored and run by hardware. Hardware is so-termed because it is "hard" or rigid with respect to changes or modifications; whereas software is "soft" because it is easy to update or change. Intermediate between software and hardware is "firmware", which is software that is strongly coupled to the particular hardware of a computer system and thus the most difficult to change but also among the most stable with respect to consistency of interface. The progression from levels of "hardness" to "softness" in computer systems parallels a progression of layers of abstraction in computing.

In computing and especially in computer hardware, a controller is a chip, an expansion card, or a stand-alone device that interfaces with a more peripheral device. This may be a link between two parts of a computer or a controller on an external device that manages the operation of that device.

Display device Output device for presentation of information in visual form

A display device is an output device for presentation of information in visual or tactile form. When the input information that is supplied has an electrical signal the display is called an electronic display.

Related Research Articles

Bus (computing) communication system that transfers data between components inside a computer

In computer architecture, a bus is a communication system that transfers data between components inside a computer, or between computers. This expression covers all related hardware components and software, including communication protocols.

Removable media is a form of computer storage that is designed to be inserted and removed from a system. Some forms of removable media, such as optical discs, require a reader to be installed in the computer, while others, such as USB flash drives, have all the hardware required to read them built into the device, so only need a driver to be installed in order to communicate with the device.


In computing, spooling is a specialized form of multi-programming for the purpose of copying data between different devices. In contemporary systems, it is usually used for mediating between a computer application and a slow peripheral, such as a printer. Spooling allows programs to "hand off" work to be done by the peripheral and then proceed to other tasks, or do not begin until input has been transcribed. A dedicated program, the spooler, maintains an orderly sequence of jobs for the peripheral and feeds it data at its own rate. Conversely, for slow input peripherals, such as a card reader, a spooler can maintain a sequence of computational jobs waiting for data, starting each job when all of the relevant input is available; see batch processing. The spool itself refers to the sequence of jobs, or the storage area where they are held. In many cases the spooler is able to drive devices at their full rated speed with minimal impact on other processing.


The UNIVAC 1050 was a variable word-length decimal and binary computer.

NCR 315

The NCR 315 Data Processing System, released in January 1962 by NCR, is an obsolete second-generation computer. All printed circuit boards use resistor–transistor logic (RTL) to create the various logic elements. It uses 12-bit slab memory structure using magnetic core memory. The instructions can use a memory slab as either two 6-bit alphanumeric characters or as three 4-bit BCD digits. Basic memory is 5000 "slabs" of handmade core memory, which is expandable to a maximum of 40,000 slabs in four refrigerator-size cabinets. The main processor includes three cabinets and a console section that houses the power supply, keyboard, output writer, and a panel with lights that indicate the current status of the program counter, registers, arithmetic accumulator, and system errors. Input/Output is by direct parallel connections to each type of peripheral through a two-cable bundle with 1-inch-thick cables. Some devices like magnetic tape and the CRAM are daisy-chained to allow multiple drives to be connected.

This article covers the peripherals available for Atari's 8-bit computer family, which includes the 400/800, XL, XE, the and XEGS.

SIMONAYZAYZAYA text entry interface or text entry device is an interface that is used to enter text information an commonly used device is a mechanical computer keyboard. Most laptop computers have an integrated mechanical keyboard, and desktop computers are usually operated primarily using a keyboard and mouse. Devices such as smartphones and tablets mean that interfaces such as virtual keyboards and voice recognition are becoming more popular as text entry systems.

RCA Spectra 70 series of mainframe computers manufactured by RCA from 1965 onwards

The RCA Spectra 70 was a line of electronic data processing (EDP) equipment manufactured by the Radio Corporation of America’s computer division beginning in April 1965. The Spectra 70 line included several CPU models, various configurations of core memory, mass-storage devices, terminal equipment, and a variety of specialized interface equipment.

Input device peripheral to provide data and signals to an information processing system

In computing, an input device is a piece of computer hardware equipment used to provide data and control signals to an information processing system such as a computer or information appliance. Examples of input devices include keyboards, mouse, scanners, digital cameras, joysticks, and microphones.

Single-board microcontroller

A single-board microcontroller is a microcontroller built onto a single printed circuit board. This board provides all of the circuitry necessary for a useful control task: a microprocessor, I/O circuits, a clock generator, RAM, stored program memory and any necessary support ICs. The intention is that the board is immediately useful to an application developer, without requiring them to spend time and effort to develop controller hardware.

Punched card input/output

A computer punched card reader or just computer card reader is a computer input device used to read computer programs in either source or executable form and data from punched cards. A computer card punch is a computer output device that punches holes in cards. Sometimes computer punch card readers were combined with computer card punches and, later, other devices to form multifunction machines. It is a input device and also an output device. Most early computers, such as the ENIAC, and the IBM NORC, provided for punched card input/output. Card readers and punches, either connected to computers or in off-line card to/from magnetic tape configurations, were ubiquitous through the mid-1970s.

The Datamatic Division of Honeywell announced the H-800 electronic computer in 1958. The first installation occurred in 1960. A total of 89 were delivered. The H-800 design was part of a family of 48-bit word, three-address instruction format computers that descended from the Datamatic 1000, which was a joint Honeywell and Raytheon project started in 1955. The 1800 and 1800-II were follow-on designs to the H-800.

This is a glossary of terms relating to computer hardware – physical computer hardware, architectural issues, and peripherals.

IBM System/360 Model 20

The IBM System/360 Model 20 is the smallest member of the IBM System/360 family announced in November 1964. The Model 20 supports only a subset of the System/360 instruction set, with binary numbers limited to 16 bits and no floating point. In later years it would have been classified as a 16-bit minicomputer rather than a mainframe, but the term "minicomputer" was not current, and in any case IBM wanted to emphasize the compatibility of the Model 20 rather than its differences from the rest of the System/360 line. It does, however, have the full System/360 decimal instruction set, that allows for addition, subtraction, product, and dividend of up to 31 decimal digits.


The PDP-8/e was a model of the PDP-8 line of minicomputers, designed by the Digital Equipment Corporation to be a general purpose computer that inexpensively met the needs of the average user while also being capable of modular expansion to meet the more specific needs of advanced user. The first was built in 1970 and was among the first ever minicomputers and this one was small enough to fit in the back seat of a Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. It originally sold for $6,500 but after 18 months the price dropped to $4995 to make it the only computer under $5000 available at that time.

The 12-bit ND812, produced by Nuclear Data, Inc., was a commercial minicomputer developed for the scientific computing market. Nuclear Data introduced it in 1970 at a price under $10,000.

МИР-2 is the version of the МИР-1 computer developed by the Institute of Cybernetics of the Academy of Sciences of Ukrainian SSR. under the guidance of Academician VM Glushkov. Produced since 1969.

DATAmatic 1000

The DATAmatic 1000 is an obsolete computer system from Honeywell introduced in 1957. It uses vacuum tubes and crystal diodes for logic, and featured a unique magnetic tape format for storage.


  1. Laplante, Philip A. (2000). Dictionary of Computer Science, Engineering and Technology. CRC Press. p. 366. ISBN   0-8493-2691-5. Archived from the original on September 23, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2018.