It’s never wise to assume, right?  So we’ll start with the very basics.

HARDWARE is equipment.  Back in the introduction, you may have noticed some of the advances were equipment upgrades.  Writing with that erasable No. 2 pencil on smooth (cheap) white paper probably would have moved Bob Cratchit to tears.

Computer.  Keyboard.  Mouse.  Server.  And wires.  Lots and lots of wires, right?

SERVER by the way, means a dedicated computer that simply houses information.  Servers are generally used in a business environment when the company’s needs have grown such that multiple users need to access the same information simultaneously, so everybody gets a computer, (also called a terminal,) but all the information is actually kept on a separate computer.  The separate computer is the server.

SOFTWARE is harder to define.  “Anything that is not hardware, but is used with hardware,” says  Merriam Webster tells us software is “the entire set of programs, procedures, and related documentation associated with a system, and especially a computer system; specifically computer programs.”  Gobbledy-gook.

Try this:

Software is how we interact with the hardware.   You have a computer and I have a computer.  The computers are identical.  We even have the same mouse, mouse pad, and keyboard.  (And we both have lots of wires; mine are neatly tucked away and secured with twisty ties and rubber bands, by the way.)  You install software to play solitaire, and I install software to do tax prep and bookkeeping.  Somebody else installs software to store and display their photography.  Or their recipes.  Or to design skyscrapers.  Or to write articles to post on the internet.

The computer (hardware) all by itself does nothing.  Only when you add software can you take advantage of all the power that the computer has to offer.

Hardware is a tool.  Software adapts that tool to a particular use.

Once upon a time, up until about 5 years ago, software was purchased in a box, and installed directly onto your computer.  Today, software is likely to be something you use on a subscription basis.  It is no longer actually on your computer.

So where is it?  Enter the ubiquitous cloud.  (see next post)