The Computer Tower

The Back of the Computer Tower

Before learning about the hardware that runs your computer, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the outside of your computer. Once you see what you have access to, you will have a good idea of where you will find the different hardware components inside your computer.

Power Plug

This is the plug for your power cord, which is really nothing more than a hole in the back of the case through which the cord connects to the power supply

Serial Port

This port used to be the standard connector for most computer hardware peripherals, but it has been phased out with the arrival of USB as the new standard. On older computers, this port can be used to connect some types of external printers, modems, bar code scanners and other external digital interface tools.

Parallel Port

This is where older printers would be plugged in, ones that do not have USB connectors.

PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse Connectors

If your keyboard and mouse are not USB-powered, wireless, or Bluetooth, they will plug into these two ports. The keyboard always goes into the purple port, the mouse goes into the green, and many keyboards and mice color-code their plugs so that you don't mix them up. The PS/2 does not stand for Playstation 2, but rather is named after the PS/2 line of IBM computers, where these connectors were first standardized.

USB Ports

“USB” stands for Universal Serial Bus, which is a standard for interfacing devices to a computer. There are many external components that can interface with your computer through these USB ports, including keyboards and mice, printers, external hard drives, MP3 players, and flash drives, just to name a few.

LAN Port

This is the connector for your local area network cable, if you use anything other than standard dial-up. DSL and cable Internet connect from their external routers to your computer using CAT-5 cable, which plugs into this port. Dial-up connections, however, use telephone cable and plug into the computer's modem.

Video and Sound Cards

The covers surrounding the backs of these two cards can be removed if you want to add additional PCI cards to your computer. If this computer had a modem, it would be contained on a PCI card in one of those slots. Other types of PCI cards can include wireless network cards and USB port cards, just to name a few.

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the outside of your computer, you can: