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Information Systems by Efrem G. Mallach

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63
Chapter 3
Information Systems
Hardware
CHAPTER OUTLINE
Computer Structure
Switches: e Basic Hardware Building Blocks
Computer System Components
Computer Categories
WHY THIS CHAPTER MATTERS
You know about information system (computer) hardware. Youve used it for years. Nobody
has to tell you what a printer is, or that the cost of ink adds up if you print a lot.
What you know about hardware probably comes from using it. You’ve used personal
computers: smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops. Businesses use other types of com-
puters, too. Your ability to make business decisions about hardware depends on knowing
about types of computers and components that you probably havent seen or used, and will
probably never have a personal reason to see. ose computers work on the same basic
principles as the ones youve used, but their pieces are organized in dierent ways for rea-
sons that arent always obvious. When you make decisions that involve tens of thousands,
or millions, of dollars, these dierences matter.
Also, when we learn something by using it, we seldom take time to understand its prin-
ciples. is leads to gaps in what we know. Gaps can be problems when you make business
decisions.
Finally, your uency with computer technology concepts and with the vocabulary of
technical professionals will help you in discussions with them. If you use terms correctly,
they’ll respect your knowledge and listen to what you say. If you make elementary mis-
takes, theyll think you dont know much. is is human nature. ey’ll react that way even
if the subject youre discussing doesnt depend on those terms and concepts.
64 Information Systems: What Every Business Student Needs to Know
CHAPTER TAKE-AWAYS
As you read this chapter, focus on these key concepts to use on the job:
1. Hardware exists only to run soware. Soware (Chapter 4) should drive hardware
choices.
2. Hardware evolves quickly. You must distinguish between basic principles and how
today’s products happen to work.
3. Eective management of hardware requires an enterprise hardware architecture, to
which individual hardware purchases should conform.
4. Selecting the right hardware requires understanding what that hardware will be
used for.
COMPUTER STRUCTURE
As you read in Chapter 1, computer hardware is one component of an information system.
is term refers to the physical parts of a computer: those you interact with, such as mouse,
keyboard, and display; its electronic and mechanical components, and the enclosures that
house them.
As you also read in Chapter 1, a system is a collection of components that interact with a
purpose. Hardware is one component of an information system, and the hardware is itself
also a system. We can break down the hardware of a computer as shown in Figure 3.1.
e elements of Figure 3.1 are themselves systems. A mechanical keyboard* consists
of an enclosure, a few dozen plastic keys, springs and electrical contacts under each, and
a way to send switch closing signals to a computer. Many of those can be broken down
further.
*
Many keyboards use touchscreens today, of course, including those on just about every phone and tablet.
Input
devices
Output
devices
Storage
devices
RAM (main
memory)
Central
processing
unit (CPU)
Electronics
subsystem
FIGURE 3.1 System-level diagram of computer hardware.

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