Updated: 04/01/2018 by Computer Hope

Input and Output exampleAlternatively referred to as I/O, input/output is any software or hardware device that is designed to send and receive data to and from a computer hardware component. For example, a computer mouse can is only an input device, because it can send data but cannot receive any data back. A computer monitor is an output device, because it can display information but cannot send data back to the computer.

The most commonly used input/output device is a hard drive, which is found in every computer. However, there are other input/output devices used by users and computers.

Types of input/output devices

Tip: Drives such as a CD-ROM, DVD, floppy diskette drive, hard drive, and USB flash drive are also considered storage devices.

What are the input/output devices of my computer?

All computers have a hard drive, as they could not function without it. Today, most computers have a CD-RW or DVD-RW drive, network card, and a sound card (or on-board sound on the motherboard), which are all input/output devices. Some people consider a sound card to be more of an output device, but it does have input capabilities as well. A microphone can be connected to a computer through the sound card, allowing the sound card to accept sound (input) and send it to the computer.

If you save files to be accessed on other computers or want to copy files from one computer to another, you likely will use a USB flash drive to do so.

Older computers used to have a floppy diskette drive and a modem, but both are seldomly used anymore and not found on most computers today.

Why does a computer need an input/output device?

Without an input-output device, computers would not be able to access data and save data. A computer's operating system, like Windows or macOS, are stored on a hard drive and accessed by the computer. Without the hard drive, a computer could not access an operating system and could not function.

To access the Internet, a computer needs to use an input/output device, like a modem or network card. Without either of those, the computer could not connect to or access the Internet.

Computer acronyms, Database terms, Input, Input/Output supervisor, I/O device, I/O ports, Output