McGraw-Hill OnlineMcGraw-Hill Higher EducationLearning Center
Student Center | Instructor Center | Information Center | Home
Interactive Companion
Key Questions
Web Summary
Multiple Choice Quiz
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
Click-along 1-1
Crossword Puzzle
IT Challenge
Labeling Exercise
IT Word Scramble
Help Center

Using Information Technology: A Practical Introduction to Computers and Communications, 5/e
Brian K. Williams
Stacey Sawyer


Web Summary

  1. Infotech Becomes Commonplace. Information_technology merges computers and high-speed communications; new infotech phones are an example. Computer—a programmable, multiuse machine that processes data into information. Communications—electromagnetic devices and systems for communicating over distances. Online—using a computer to access information and services via a network.

    Infotech has given us some now-commonplace technologies: Email—messages transmitted over a computer network, a communications system connecting computers. Major components of cyberspace—the wired and wireless world of communications—are the Internet, a network of 400,000 smaller networks, and its graphical subsection, the World Wide Web, which stores information in multimedia form—text, graphics, sound, video.

  2. The "All-Purpose Machine." Computers are of five types. (1) Supercomputers—perform 1 trillion calculations per second. (2) Mainframes—for processing millions of calculations; often accessed by a terminal, a display screen and keyboard that can't do its own processing. (3) Workstations—used for scientific, mathematical, engineering, and certain manufacturing applications. (4) Microcomputers—personal computers, which may be desktop PCs, tower PCs, laptops, or personal digital assistants (PDAs); frequently used to connect to a local area network (LAN), which links equipment in an office or building. (5) Microcontrollers—tiny specialized computers installed in cars and appliances. Servers are central computers holding data and programs for many other computers.

  3. Understanding Your Computer. You should know three things: (1) The purpose of a computer is to process data, raw facts, into information, summarized data. (2) Hardware consists of machinery and equipment; software instructs the hardware what to do. (3) Computers perform four basic operations: input, putting data into the system; processing, manipulation of data into information; storage, of two types—memory, which temporarily holds data to be processed, and secondary storage, which holds data or information permanently; output, putting out the results of processing. In addition, communication could be considered a fifth operation.

    Input hardware includes the keyboard, which converts characters into signals readable by the processor, and the mouse, used to manipulate objects on the display screen.

    Processing and memory hardware includes the case (system cabinet), which contains: a processor chip with miniature electronic circuits that process information in megahertz, millions of processing cycles per second; and memory chips (RAM Chips), which hold data prior to processing. Both chips are connected to the motherboard, which contains expansion slots for plugging in additional circuit boards.

    Storage hardware includes: a floppy-disk drive, which stores data on removable 31⁄2-inch disks; a hard-disk drive, which stores data on a nonremovable disk platter; and a CD-ROM drive, which reads data from optical disks.

    Output hardware includes: a video card , which converts processor information so it can be displayed as text and images on the monitor; a sound card, which outputs sound to speakers; and a printer, which produces images and text on paper.

    Communications hardware includes a modem, which sends and receives data over phone lines to and from computers.

    Software is of two types. System software helps the computer perform essential operating tasks. Application software performs specific tasks, such as word processing.

  4. Where is Infotech Headed? Computer developments have focused on three areas: miniaturization, speed, and affordability. Three developments in communications may be noted: connectivity, the ability to connect with computers via communications lines; interactivity, enabling a user to have a two-way dialogue; and multimedia. The melding of computers and communications has produced three developments: convergence, the combining of several industries through the language of computers; portability; and personalization. One result of these developments is information overload. Three ethical concerns raised by information technology are associated with speed and scale, unpredictability, and complexity.