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Difference between Input and Output Devices

In this section we will learn about the input and output devices which are used to operate computer. The computer is a machine which takes input in the user understandable form, convert it to binary and then process it. The result of the processing is the output. Computer has lot many types of input and output. The common examples are:

Input Devices:
  • Keyboard;
  • Mouse;
  • Joystick (to play games);
  • Miscellaneous Input devices, like camera, pen or flash drives, etc.;
  • Scanner;
  • Microphones.
Output Devices:
  • Printer;
  • Display;
  • Speakers (or audio output devices);
  • Projector;
  • Plotter.
We see that there are lot of the devices which can be used as input and output devices. An example of a device which can work both as input as well as output device is the touch enable display. It takes input by the user interaction and also output the result.

Input Devices:

As is evident from the name, the input device is used to provide the input to the computer so that it can process and gives the desired output. The input devices like keyboard have a matrix of ASCII codes. When a key is pressed a corresponding ASCII code is generated and sent to the computer. The computer reads the ASCII code and outputs the desired result. So for example alphabet “e” is pressed on the screen then the ASCII code (in decimal) of 100 is generated which is input to the computer. Now computer can only understand these codes and hence it interprets and display a letter “e” on the screen.

Another type of input device is mouse. A typical computer mouse has three buttons. These three buttons are associated with different commands and user can interact with the digital object by using the mouse and one or more of its buttons. The mouse gives user complete freedom to roam on the screen and do anything conveniently, which is not possible with the keyboard.

Output Devices:

As is evident from the name, the output device is used to present the output to the user for a given input. The output device like monitor outputs the result of the input fed to the computer. The common example being the display of alphabet when the key related to it is pressed by the user on the keyboard. There are several other types of out devices as discussed above. The printer is used to print anything which is either available in the computer or which is processed by it when an input is provided.

The output device like speaker is used to output the sound which is available in the computer in the form of songs or music. The songs as well as music is also stored in the form of binary in the computer and when it is played the binary is converted to the voltage which generates particular frequencies and enable us to enjoy the song or the music.

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From Wikipedia

Input device

An input device is any peripheral (piece of computer hardware equipment) used to provide data and control signals to an information processing system (such as a computer). Input and output devices make up the hardware interface between a computer as a scanner or 6DOF controller.

Many input devices can be classified according to:

  • modality of input (e.g. mechanical motion, audio, visual, etc.)
  • the input is discrete (e.g. keypresses) or continuous (e.g. a mouse's position, though digitized into a discrete quantity, is fast enough to be considered continuous)
  • the number of degrees of freedom involved (e.g. two-dimensional traditional mice, or three-dimensional navigators designed for CAD applications)

Pointing devices, which are input devices used to specify a position in space, can further be classified according to:

  • Whether the input is direct or indirect. With direct input, the input space coincides with the display space, i.e. pointing is done in the space where visual feedback or the cursor appears. Touchscreens and light pens involve direct input. Examples involving indirect input include the mouse and trackball.
  • Whether the positional information is absolute (e.g. on a touch screen) or relative (e.g. with a mouse that can be lifted and repositioned)

Note that direct input is almost necessarily absolute, but indirect input may be either absolute or relative. For example, digitizing Graphics tablets that do not have an embedded screen involve indirect input and sense absolute positions and are often run in an absolute input mode, but they may also be setup to simulate a relative input mode where the stylus or puck can be lifted and repositioned.


A 'keyboard' is a human interface device which is represented as a layout of buttons. Each button, or key, can be used to either input a linguistic character to a computer, or to call upon a particular function of the computer. Traditional keyboards use spring-based buttons, though newer variations employ virtual keys, or even projected keyboards.

Examples of types of keyboards include:

Pointing devices

A pointing device is any human interface device that allows a user to input spatial data to a computer. In the case of mice and touch screens, this is usually achieved by detecting movement across a physical surface. Analog devices, such as 3D mice, joysticks, or pointing sticks, function by reporting their angle of deflection. Movements of the pointing device are echoed on the screen by movements of the cursor, creating a simple, intuitive way to navigate a computer's GUI.

High-degree of freedom input devices

Some devices allow many continuous degrees of freedom as input. These can be used as pointing devices, but are generally used in ways that don't involve pointing to a location in space, such as the control of a camera angle while in 3D applications. These kinds of devices are typically used in CAVEs, where input that registers 6DOF is required.

Composite devices

Input devices, such as buttons and joysticks, can be combined on a single physical device that could be thought of as a composite device. Many gaming devices have controllers like this. Technically mice are composite devices, as they both track movement and provide buttons for clicking, but composite devices are generally considered to have more than two different forms of input.

Imaging and Video input devices

Video input devices are used to digitize images or video from the outside world into the computer. The information can be stored in a multitude of formats depending on the user's requirement.

Medical Imaging

Audio input devices

In the fashion of video devices, audio devices are used to either capture or create sound. In some cases, an audio output device can be used as an input device, in order to capture produced sound.


In computing, input/output, or I/O, refers to the communication between an information processing system (such as a computer), and the outside world, possibly a human, or another information processing system. Inputs are the signals or data received by the system, and outputs are the signals or data sent from it. The term can also be used as part of an action; to "perform I/O" is to perform an input or output operation. I/O devices are used by a person (or other system) to communicate with a computer. For instance, a keyboard or a mouse may be an input device for a computer, while monitors and printers are considered output devices for a computer. Devices for communication between computers, such as modems and network cards, typically serve for both input and output.

Note that the designation of a device as either input or output depends on the perspective. Mouse and keyboards take as input physical movement that the human user outputs and convert it into signals that a computer can understand. The output from these devices is input for the computer. Similarly, printers and monitors take as input signals that a computer outputs. They then convert these signals into representations that human users can see or read. For a human user the process of reading or seeing these representations is receiving input. These interactions between computers and humans is studied in a field called human–computer interaction.

In computer architecture, the combination of the CPU and main memory (i.e. memory that the CPU can read and write to directly, with individual instructions) is considered the brain of a computer, and from that point of view any transfer of information from or to that combination, for example to or from a disk drive, is considered I/O. The CPU and its supporting circuitry provide memory-mapped I/O that is used in low-level computer programming in the implementation of device drivers. An I/O algorithm is one designed to exploit locality and perform efficiently when data reside on secondary storage, such as a disk drive.


I/O Interface is required whenever the I/O device is driven by the processor. The interface must have necessary logic to interpret the device address generated by the processor. Handshaking should be implemented by the interface using appropriate commands like (BUSY,READY,WAIT), and the processor can communicate with I/O device through the interface. If different data formats are being exchanged, the interface must be able to convert serial data to parallel form and vice-versa. There must be provision for generating interrupts and the corresponding type numbers for further processing by the processor if required

A computer that uses memory-mapped I/O accesses hardware by reading and writing to specific memory locations, using the same assembly language instructions that computer would normally use to access memory.

Higher-level implementation

Higher-level operating system and programming facilities employ separate, more abstract I/O concepts and primitives. For example, most operating systems provide application programs with the concept of files. The C and C++ programming languages, and operating systems in the Unix family, traditionally abstract files and devices as streams, which can be read or written, or sometimes both. The C standard library provides functions for manipulating streams for input and output.

In the context of the ALGOL 68 programming language, the input and output facilities are collectively referred to as transput. The ALGOL 68 transput library recognizes the following standard files/devices: stand in, stand out, stand errors and stand back.

An alternative to special primitive functions is the I/O monad, which permits programs to just describe I/O, and the actions are carried out outside the program. This is notable because the I/O functions would introduce side-effects to any programming language, but now purely functional programming is practical.

Addressing mode

There are many ways through which data can be read or stored in the memory. Each method is an addressing mode, and has its own advantages and limitations.

There are many type of addressing modes such as direct addressing, indirect addressing, immediate addressing, index addressing, based addressing, based-index addressing, implied addressing, etc.

Direct address

In this type of address of the data is a part of the instructions itself. When the processor decodes the instruction, it gets the memory address from where it can be read/written the required information. For example:

MOV register, [address] ; to read MOV [address], register ; to write


IN register, [address] ; to read as input OUT [address], register ; to write as output

Here the address operand points to a memory location which holds the data and copies it into/from the specified register. A pair of brackets is a computer hardware equipment used to communicate the results of data processing carried out by an information processing system (such as a computer) to the outside world.

In computing, input/output, or I/O, refers to the communication between an information processing system (such as a computer), and the outside world. Inputs are the signals or data sent to the system, and outputs are the signals or data sent by the system to the outside.

Examples of output devices:

From Yahoo Answers

Question:2.What is the difference between input and output devices? List all input and output devices that can be connected to a computer. Obtain a picture of a computer showing all possible input and output devices. Label it correctly.

Answers:Input devices help in input to a device and output devices handles the output to be fed to another device. For example an input device should have high impedance so that it should not load the output device to which it is connected. Also it should condition the input so that it can be acceptable to the device to which it is fed. Output devices normally help in the device to which they are connected to have low impedance so that they can offer more output and have a smooth functioning. The keyboard is an input device and the monitor, printer etc are output devices. You behave like a teacher in your question like asking others to give a drawing and mention parts. It will take more time and I cannot afford.

Question:I need 20 examples of Input devices, 20 examples of Output devices and 10 examples of storage devices. They can be examples of devices used 30 years ago or today. Any advice on websites, resources, etc.....

Answers:Wikipedia is a good source for lists like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Input_device http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Output_device http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_storage_device And these questions have been asked here before: http://tinyurl.com/inputdevice http://tinyurl.com/outputdevice http://tinyurl.com/storagedevice

Question:The name of the device Describe how the device could be used Explain one advantage Explain one disadvantage

Answers:An example of in input device: Microphone - This is an example of an input device because you are putting information into the computer. Other examples include keyboards, computer mice, and cables in which information is sent into the computer. There are really no "advantages" or "disadvantages". An example of an output device: Speakers - This is an example of an output device because the computer is giving out information. Another example is a computer monitor, There are really no "advantages" or "disadvantages". If you want more information, visit this site: http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/I/input_device.html Hope this helps. Neel

Question:Please gimmie a detailed info about the working of input and output devices or BIOS in detail or refer me a site from which I can get the brief content regarding the same topic. Please help me to refer a site except WIKIPEDIA as because every child in my class is taking the contents from there. so please your help is required. 10 points guaranteed for genuine answer

Answers:BIOS: http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=332850 http://www.cybertechhelp.com/tutorial/article/what-is-the-bios-and-how-does-it-work http://computer.howstuffworks.com/bios.htm http://e-articles.info/e/a/title/What-is-BIOS-~-How-does-the-BIOS-system-work/ I/O Devices: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/ict/hardware/0inputandoutputdevicesrev1.shtml http://www.abcya.com/input_output.htm http://www.kiv.zcu.cz/~ledvina/vyuka/Java/javanotes/Notes/chap01/ch01_7.html http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/systems/index.jsp?topic=/iphat/iphbliodevices.htm You should get enough out of those

From Youtube

Input_Output Devices Part 2 :Computer input and output devices have undergone remarkable development since their existence. This chapter covers the different types of computer input and output devices. The primary function of input devices is 'getting' data and instruction into the computer. Popular input devices are keyboard, mouse, scanner, microphone and webcam. An Output device is any hardware component that can convey information to a user. Common output devices are monitors, printers and sound speakers

Input_Output Devices Part 1 :Computer input and output devices have undergone remarkable development since their existence. This chapter covers the different types of computer input and output devices. The primary function of input devices is 'getting' data and instruction into the computer. Popular input devices are keyboard, mouse, scanner, microphone and webcam. An Output device is any hardware component that can convey information to a user. Common output devices are monitors, printers and sound speakers