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[ The PC Guide | Introduction to the PC | Overview of Systems and Components ]

Peripheral I/O

Peripherals are external devices that you connect to your PC. (Well, technically your hard drive and CD-ROM etc. are peripherals too, but often people use the term to refer to devices outside the main box). There are two main ways that you can connect peripherals to your machine: through a serial connection, or through a parallel connection:

  • Serial Communications: A serial connection sends information over the line one bit at a time. It is a simple way to send information in or out of the computer, but is not as fast as other ways the computer can communicate. Serial connections are typically used for devices such as mice and modems.
  • Parallel Communications: A parallel connection is faster than a serial one because it sends many bits in parallel. The advantage of this is that it is faster, but the disadvantage is that it is more complicated to do. Parallel connections are used most often for printers and removable storage drives, which need more speed than serial peripherals.

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