Between receiving input and providing output, your computer processes. In other words, the computer processes input and produces output. Without processing, the computer’s output would be the same as its input — kind of like plumbing: Water goes into the pipe, and water comes out of the pipe. The water is the same before, during, and after the journey.
With a computer, you have the added element of processing, which means doing something to the input so that you get something else as output. To continue the plumbing example, turning dirty water into clean water would be a type of processing.
Processing is handled by a gizmo inside the computer called (logically enough) a processor:
By itself, the processor doesn’t know what to do with input. No, the processor relies on instructions to tell it what to do. Those instructions are referred to as software.
It’s amazing when you think of it: Computer input is all digital. Yet with the proper processing, the output can be anything from a poem to a graphical image to a symphony. That’s all thanks to the power of processing.