What Is the Purpose of the Computer?

By Brenda Sanders

The purpose of the computer is to perform calculations, store information, retrieve data and process information. A computer has programmed data or computer language that tells the computer how to fulfill its purpose. The computer will only do what it is programmed to do. Hence, the saying: “computers do not make mistakes; people do.”

Performing calculations

Computers are able to perform logical calculations such as mathematical operations. Most computers, for instance, have a built-in calculator that can be used to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Spreadsheets are accounting programs for computers that compute totals and sub-totals. Microsoft Excel is an example of a popular spreadsheet program.

Storing Data

Computers are used to store information created by the user. This data is stored in the memory of the computer. A computer will store any information in its memory that is saved by the user. You, as a computer user, designate where on the computer you want the information to be stored. Depending on your computer’s settings, your computer may automatically save information to your computer every 10 or 15 minutes.

Retrieving Data

Any information that has been saved to the computer can be retrieved at a later time. In order to retrieve data, open the program it was created in, go to the File drop-down menu; then, click on the name of the file to access the information.

Processing Data

Every operation or activity done on a computer is done through the processing of data. This all starts with the keyboard. Each time you strike a key on the keyboard, the computer is processing this information. In other words, when I type a "p" on the keyboard, this signals the motherboard (the brain of the computer) that the letter p should be put on the computer screen. Likewise, when I use the arrow drawing tool, this signals the motherboard to draw an arrow on the computer screen.

Uses of the Computer

The computer has many uses. It was one of the most instrumental devices in making Internet use possible. A computer can be used for word processing, graphic design, gaming, teaching, bookkeeping, organizing, as well as surfing the Internet. In recent years, computers have been used to watch DVDs, play CDs, create recordings, compose music, download and organize pictures, as well as fax information. The list goes on.