Make your own free website on

MIS Course "Home of the Power of Technology"

Chapter 3

Your Instructor
Drop Box
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Case Study
Extra Resources



Chapter 3 Computer Hardware

  • Computer Systems. Major types of computer systems are summarized in Figure 3.2. Microcomputers are used as personal computers, network computers, personal digital assistants, technical workstations, and information appliances. Midrange systems are increasingly used as powerful network servers, and for many multi-user business data processing and scientific applications. Mainframe computers are larger and more powerful than most midsize systems. They are usually faster, have more memory capacity, and can support more network users and peripheral devices. They are designed to handle the information processing needs of large organizations with high volumes of transaction processing, or with complex computational problems. Supercomputers are a special category of extremely powerful mainframe computer systems designed for massive computational assignments.
  • The Computer Systems Concept. A computer is a system of information processing components that perform input, processing, output, storage, and control functions. Its hardware components include input and output devices, a central processing unit (CPU), and primary and secondary storage devices. The major functions and hardware in a computer system are summarized in Figure 3.9.
  • Peripheral Devices. Refer to Figures 3.12 and 3.20 to review the capabilities of peripheral devices for input, output, and storage discussed in this chapter.

Chapter 3: Q & A:


1.      What trends are occurring in the development and use of the major types of computer systems?


Computers are becoming physically smaller, faster, more memory, cheaper, more reliable and user friendly, and are increasingly being connected via telecommunications links through organizations.


2. Will the convergence of PDAs, sub-notebook PCs, and cell phones produce an information   appliance that will make all of those categories obsolete?  Why or why not?


There is probably no doubt that the convergence of PDAs, sub-notebook PCs, and cell phones will produce an information appliance that will make all of those categories obsolete.  As more powerful appliances capable of completing multiple tasks are developed, there will definitely be a trend toward converging of this technology into a single appliance.  Users do not want to carry around 4 or 5 different appliances when one would do the trick.  For example, it only stands to reason that an individual will not want to carry around a pager, cell phone, GPS, laptop, or a variety of other hardware devices if all of the features could be integrated into one small appliance such as the PDA. 


3. Refer to the Real World Case on Progressive Insurance and UniFirst in the chapter.  Should Progressive replace much of their IRV hardware devices with a combination cell phone, PDA, and digital camera? Why or why not?


  Hardware replacement decisions should include these issues:

        If all necessary information to settle a claim may not be available to the claims reps will different hardware devices improve customer relations, make the claims reps more productive, and enable Progressive to settle claims faster?

        Will the ability of Progressive’s supervisory staff to verify data lead to higher error occurrence rates related to incorrect claims settlements?

        Will the use of a combination cell phone, PDA and digital camera enable Progressive to further reduce costs?

        Will the use of a combination cell phone, PDA and digital camera result in Progressive experiencing an increase in inefficiency when the device goes down and existing alternatives are not available?


4.  Do you think that information appliances like PDAs will replace personal computers (PCs) in business applications? Explain.


  Answers could include the following considerations by the students:

        Mobility needs of the workers within the company.

        Nature of the company within its industry that determines the type of technology which best meets the needs of given employee groups.

        The IT trend is toward smart gadgets and information appliances; thus changing the nature of most business applications.


5.  Are networks of PCs and servers making mainframe computers obsolete?  Explain.


Networked microcomputers are often the better alternative to larger single computer systems, providing many of the same advantages, and easier access and more personal control.  However, there are still many tasks that require the memory capacity and number crunching power of modern mainframe computers, such as running mathematical models for weather forecasting.  Minicomputers are often more economical than multiple micros in business environments that have teams working together on projects and require control of access to databases and ongoing projects.  The distinction between micro- and minicomputers, however, is becoming increasingly fuzzy.


6. Refer to the Real World Case on Delta and Northwest airlines in the chapter.  What are several other present or potential business applications for self-service networked kiosks? What are their business benefits and limitations? Give several examples.


  Present or potential business applications for self-service networked kiosks may include:

        Expanding the kiosks to include business partners such as vehicle rentals and room reservations – enhancing the value chain.

        Enhancing the kiosks to permit customers to conduct other business activities such as message retrieval.

        Allowing customers to initiate other service requests from other businesses operating in the same physical location.  Generate a food selection request to permit food service in an airport to be faster – “order to go” service.

        Giving customers a method to more easily plan activities by providing information regarding their destination in terms of entertainment, restaurants, theatre, etc.


7.  What are several trends that are occurring in the development and use of peripheral devices?  Why are these trends occurring?


Trends in I/O devices are to more user friendliness.  This includes direct I/O wherever feasible, increased use of voice I/O, and better quality printed output.  Trends in secondary storage devices are to increase use of optical disks, higher capacity magnetic disks, and small but high-capacity magnetic tape cartridges for backup storage.


8. What are several important computer hardware developments that you expect to happen in the next ten years? How will these affect the business use of computers?


Hardware development may include:

        A growth in the type and usage of smart gadgets and information appliances for input and output purposes will increase.

        Hardware devices will be more powerful in terms of processing speed and capacity.

        Wireless devices will become the standard or norm for many businesses.

        A reduction on the dependency on keyboards and mouse type technology as businesses currently use such technology.

        Storage will improve in terms of media and capacity and with a related reduced cost.


9.  What processor, memory, magnetic disk storage, and video display capabilities would you require for a personal computer that you would use for business purposes?  Explain your choices.


Students’ responses will vary.  However, when a machine is used for business purposes the answer should identify requirements such as the need for large capacity hard drives, Jaz or ZIP drives, peripherals such as a need for an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, DVD or CD devices, scanners, faster-state of the art high speed processors such as the Pentium III chips, memory capacity large enough to handle the demands of the software and the operating system.  Also, they should specify the requirements of a good video display with a high performance video card capable of handling the requirements of the software and the demands of the job.


10. What other peripheral devices and capabilities would you want to have for your business PC?  Explain.

 Responses may vary.  There are so many peripherals available today that a complete answer to this question is impossible.  The wish list simply goes on and on and the possibilities are seemingly endless.