In terms of storage space (memory) a byte can be considered to be the size of a character. 

Kilobyte – Approximately 1,000 bytes.  A kilobyte can store up to      1,000 characters of information.

Megabyte – Approximately 1 million bytes.  A megabyte can store up to 1 million characters of information.

Gigabyte – Approximately 1 billion bytes.  A gigabyte can store up to 1 billion characters of information.

CD-ROM Drive

The CD-ROM drive gets information on and off a CD-ROM.

Burner –A special type of CD-ROM that allows information and data to be copied to a CD-ROM disk.

CPU – Central Processing Unit

The “brains” of the computer, sometimes called a tower, which contains the microprocessor.  This is the large part of the computer that contains the hard drive, CD-ROM drives, floppy drive, and places to plug in peripherals (mouse, printer, keyboard, etc.)

Disk Drive

The disk drive allows information to be extracted or added to a floppy disk.

Hard Drive

The hard drive is the C: drive in most computers.  It is located in the CPU and never seen.  The hard drive is the place a computer stores programs and data files used and created by the computer.


The parts of the computer you can see or touch, such as the CPU, keyboard, monitor, hard drive, disk drive and the printer.  The amount, type and appearance of computer hardware vary depending on the use and design of the computer.

Most classroom computers today are either MacIntosh or IBM PC compatible.  HOSA uses IBM PC compatible hardware.


The keyboard contains keys that resemble a typewriter and allows for information to be entered into the computer.  Keyboards are an “input device” because they allow information to be added to file storage.


The term megahertz identifies CPU clock speed.  Megahertz determines how fast the computer processes data. Computers are measured by how many millions of instructions per second they can execute.  For example a computer, which has a clock speed of 500MHz, can process 500 million bits of data within one second.


Information is stored temporarily in “memory” to allow the CPU to accomplish various tasks.  Memory is measured in terms of Megabytes.  There are two types of memory - RAM (Random Access Memory) and ROM (Read Only Memory)


A monitor is a display unit that resembles a TV screen.  It allows the user to see what is happening inside the computer.


The mouse is an electronic pointer.  This device allows the user to point to a word, picture or specific spot on the screen and double click to select that spot or place something there.  A mouse is plugged into the CPU or the device may be wireless.  Today’s optical mouse uses laser technology and works on most surfaces.


The printer records information from the computer onto paper. (hard copy)  Most printers today are laser printers and Bubble Jet or Inkjet.  Laser printers use an internal laser and usually produce a high quality copy.  Laser printers print in black and/or color.  Bubble Jet or Inkjet printers usually print it both black and color.


Random Access Memory (RAM) is temporary space which can be changed or erased.  RAM is the onboard memory that the CPU uses to store information temporarily.  When the computer is turned off, RAM is completely erased. 


Read Only Memory (ROM) is permanent memory that cannot be erased, whether or not the computer is turned off or on.  The information stored in ROM can be read but not updated.


Computer programs and applications that direct the computer to perform specific functions.  Most HOSA documents sent to HOSA chapters use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Publisher.


A scanner is similar to a copying machine allowing the computer to create digital images of text, graphics or pictures.  A scanner is also an “input device.”

Web Cam

A Web Cam is a camera that sends digital images back to a computer of whatever is in the camera’s view.  Web Cams can be used for teleconferencing or surveillance.




National HOSA
6021 Morriss Road, Suite 111
Flower Mound, TX 75028
Phone: (800) 321-HOSA
Fax: (972) 874-0063

Activities and procedures within Health Occupations Students of America are governed by the philosophy of simple fairness to all. Therefore, the policy of National HOSA is that all operations will be performed without regard to race, sex, color, national origin or handicap. HOSA is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.