What is the CPU?

by Miriam Tocino

Two weeks ago, you learned that a computer bus is a set of wires that moves all the data and information in your computer between its different parts. For example, from the memory to the CPU.

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Now, it's time to break that down and dive deeper into each of the components that make up your computer.

In this chapter, you'll learn:

  • What the CPU is
  • Why the CPU overheats
  • A brief history about it

Let's begin with some computer basics for kids!

What is the CPU?

The CPU or Central Processing Unit is like the "brain" inside your computer, and it's in charge of controlling each of its other parts. 

Let's take a human example. Every time you want to move a finger, it all starts in your brain. It sends instructions to that part of your body and tells it to move.

The CPU plays a similar role inside your computer! 


Why does the CPU overheat?

CPUs have a tendency to overheat. Have you ever noticed your computer making a buzzing noise? You may have touched it and found that it's getting warmer and warmer!

If you use your computer for typical tasks, like writing, sending emails, or listening to music, the CPU is usually running cool.

But, if you use it to run complicated tasks, like graphics or building 3D models, the CPU will be more active, and it can heat up easily.

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

A Brief History

Historically, one of the most important CPUs was the Apollo Guidance Computer, used in the moon flights under the Apollo program in the United States during the years 1961-1972. 

Each flight to the moon had two of these computers!

It's not widely known, but the system failed during the first lunar descent because one of its radars was left on and overloaded the CPU. They almost had to abort the mission!

Luckily, no harm was done and the software continued to operate reliably.

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Hooray-bits! You just learned what the CPU is, why it tends to overheat, and a brief history about it.


Now, it's Arts & Crafts Time!

Do you like maps as much as we do? Here's your own map of a CPU. Click here to download it, print it, and color every section, then hang it on your wall!

what is the cpu kids

Remember, understanding computers is a superpower. So, keep on learning!

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Lots of Megas from The Binary World,

Zerus & Ona


P.S. If you liked this chapter, share it with your Human-Friends on Twitter, and help us reach Gigas of kids! 🙌

P.S. Keep learning with what a computer bus iswhat bits and bytes are, and how to raise your kid's interest in technology.

Want to learn more about computers?

Have a look at the Zerus & Ona collection. Our books teach computer basics for kids with adorable characters, fun adventures, and a hands-on approach for parents and educators. Visit the shop!