The word “driver” gets tossed around when talking about computers and technology, but do you really know what they are? For most people, looking up to see if they need to update their sound driver for windows 10 is about as far as they go into understanding the technology. It doesn’t have to be too complicated to understand, so here’s a little bit of information about what drivers are.
What Is a Driver?
To put it simply, a driver tells your operating system how to interact with each installed device. It acts as a bridge to connect the software the hardware of your computer. It allows the computer to access each of the functions that the device offers and makes sure that programs know that they are there.
Having drivers makes it easier for software developers to develop apps that can work on a wide variety of systems. If the program had to interact directly with the hardware, it would make things a lot more complicated and harder to program. The driver can translate the information being exchanged so programs can be compatible. This is how you can run a video game across most systems if the hardware itself can handle it.
If drivers weren’t there to translate for a program, things would get almost impossible for software developers. They would have to account for every single hardware configuration that exists when writing their code. This process would be very time-consuming and lead to fewer programs being developed for the users.
One of the types of drivers that is present in most personal computers is for the audio. When computers first came into the world, they didn’t really make a wide variety of sounds. They communicated through just one noise, a simple beep. While programs were sometimes able to add a little bit of variety by changing how long and how often the computer beeped, they couldn’t do much of anything else.
Computer run with electrical signals while a sound is a vibration in the air, the two are quite different and developers needed to figure out a way to program more than a beep. They needed to write a program that could translate the electric impulses into sound waves. When speakers and sound cards started getting popular, the beeps were changed forever. These sound cards needed audio drivers to make them work properly and speakers to be able to hear the sounds it was producing.
Just as the brain converts the audio vibrations received from the ear and converts it into electrical impulses that we can understand, the audio driver essentially does the same process but in reverse. It acts almost like part of the nervous system of a computer. The audio driver also helps the computer communicate with the speakers as well so they can produce the correct sounds that are recognizable to the human ear. If the drivers aren’t functioning properly or are outdated, there could be issues with the audio output of your computer.