Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Device and Machine

Machines and devices are everywhere – be it a ceiling fan, a refrigerator, or a smartphone for that matter. They are so designed to make our everyday lives much easier by doing simple to most complex tasks in a matter of seconds. For one, computer is a device designed for a purpose that is to compute one of more computing functions effortlessly, or a smartphone, which allows us to create and send emails, send messages, store information, install applications along with the basic functionality of making calls – all in one device. The difference between a machine and a device is very subtle and there is no easy way to distinguish the two.

What is a Machine?

A machine is basically a combination of six simple machines – inclined plane, pulley, lever, wedge, screw, and wheel & axle – which are used almost everywhere. In simple terms, a machine is anything that reduces cost, time, and human effort. It’s a tool or a collection of tools each with a specific function, designed to accomplish one or more operations together using mechanical energy. It can be either automated or human-operated that augments human capabilities in order to perform an intended operation. In short, machines are just a piece of equipment used to make work simpler and smoother.

What is a Device?

A device may refer to a piece of mechanical or electronic instrument specifically designed for an intended purpose meaning it’s intended to make machine operations effortless and free of errors. It’s more of a collection of machines aimed at a specific action or procedure. For example, a clock is so designed to keep track of time or a smartphone which is a collection of many different parts each designed for a specific task. In short, device is a more sophisticated version of a machine or a collection of machines which can be either electric powered or hand operated.


Difference between Device and Machine

  1. Definition of Device and Machine

Machine is an apparatus or a tool which comprises of one or many parts, each designed for a specific task or function, combined together to perform a particular task using energy as power. A machine is nothing but a piece of equipment that is powered by electrical, mechanical, thermal, or chemical energy to perform one or more operations. A device is a rather sophisticated version of a machine designed for an intended purpose. Unlike machines which are usually limited to a specific operation, a device can be many things that are so designed to make machine operations smooth.

  1. Origin of Device and Machine

The idea of simple machines was recognized by the Greek philosopher named Archimedes around the time of the 3rd century BC and his main focus was study of Archimedean simple machines: lever, pulley, and screw. He was also the first to understand the concept of mechanical energy in the lever. From a human perspective, the idea of mechanical devices were the result of human’s war making capabilities such as crossbows which were originated around 500 BC. The first portable device was a timepiece which came into use around 1500 BCE but evolved into modern-day mechanical devices. For thousands of years, devices have been augmenting our daily lives in many different ways.

  1. Purpose of Device and Machine

Machines have a unique purpose that is to augment human efforts as much as possible to reduce cost and time, thereby increasing production. You can refer machine to as a combination of devices which can be either automated or human-operated. The main purpose of a machine is to make work easier. A device, in general sense, is something that is tasked for a specific purpose like a GPS device, which is used for tracking movements and navigation or a printer, for that matter, which is a device used specifically to print documents.

  1. Types of Device and Machine

The term machine is used to refer to six classical types defined by Renaissance scientists as the inclined plane, pulley, lever, screw, wheel and axle, and wedge. It’s a mechanism through which a force applied to one part is transferred to another part using motion as a power source. These six simple machines have specific features and are designed only to reduce the human effort by a simple pull or push. Devices are categorized based on different contexts. For example, when referring to a computer peripheral device, it is divided into input, output, and storage devices.

Device vs. Machine: Comparison Chart

Summary of Device vs. Machine

Every machine is a device but every device is not a machine. Both the terms can be used interchangeably because the difference between the two is quite subtle and there is a thin line between a machine and device, when it comes to engineering works. A machine may be a tool or a collection of tools that uses some kind of energy to perform one or more operations and it can be both human-operated and automated. A device is anything that makes machine operations simple and smooth. It’s a piece of electronic or mechanical instrument designed for a particular purpose like a clock, which is specifically designed to show time.


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References :

[0]Orr, Julian E. Talking about Machines: An Ethnography of a Modern Job. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1996. Print

[1]Usher, Abbott P. A History of Mechanical Inventions. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954. Print

[2]Hélouvry, Brian Armstrong. Control of Machines with Friction. Berlin, Germany: Springer, 1991. Print

[3]Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/xmodulo/26775594584

[4]Image credit: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1273747

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