In computer science, the term hardware refers to any computer system components which are actual physical objects in contrast to software which exists in digital form. This includes the hard disk and built-in drives, i.e. all components that are “hard.”
The development of computer hardware begins when the first computers came into existence and has its true origin in the “Von Neumann architecture.” The Hungarian mathematician presented a structure for a computer in 1945 which is still quite applicable even today. His model consisted of four elements: a control unit, an arithmetic/logic unit, a memory unit, and an input and output device.
This pretty much comprises the definition of hardware. In 1947 the term hardware was mentioned in reference to the “physical components of a computer” for the first time. In the Anglophone environment the term “hardware” primarily denotes items made out of metal such as tools, locks, hinges or cutlery. Therefore, it is usually referred to “computer hardware” to set it apart from its original meaning. Due to technical progress, hardware for computers has evolved tremendously. This did not change the Von Neumann principle, however.
Crucial development steps can be described for all four levels:
Hardware today includes many different elements and the below is by no means a complete list:
The craft of search engine optimization has also changed with the increasing development of computer hardware. Without the enormous computing power of computers, programs such as Google Analytics or other tools could not be used at all.
User hardware requirements are a key factor in terms of optimizing websites. Today, for example, the kinds of devices being used are much more sophisticated than at the beginning of the 2000s. At that time, the Internet was accessed mainly at home with a desktop PCs. Today, a variety of devices with different hardware are used to connect to the Internet. Moreover, we are no longer bound to a stationary Internet connection, but can surf the web with smartphones or tablets on the go. A definite result of this hardware development is responsive design that adapts to the respective output device. Mobile optimization is another a direct consequence of the changed user hardware requirements. Web analytics had to be adapted as well and can now do cross-device tracking.
The current hardware development plays also a role in website assessment through Google’s algorithms. For example, load speed of a webpage is a ranking criterion which can be optimized with appropriate hardware such as faster servers.