Computer Hardware

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It seems that in today's world nothing can be done without a computer, but upon a closer look, you will find that it is the hardware components and input and output devices that make a computer useful. What is it that determines the speed at which a computer can find a file? How do you get a report from your PC to the members of your next Board meeting? It is the hardware that is used with your computer that allows you to accomplish all of your business needs using your computer.
Data input is the collection of raw data that is used to find needed information. Data input is an important part of any business, but different businesses have different needs when it comes to input devices. Some common business needs and the best data input solution to solve them are listed below:
Printed questionnaires- An optical mark recognizer (OCR) would be best because it will read the answers chosen by the participant and turn it in to digital data.
Telephone survey- A voice recognition device would be the best solution because it would allow the telephone survey answers to be converted for digital use.
Bank checks- A magnetic ink character recognition device (MICR) is the best answer for banks because it was developed by banks to read a special magnetic ink with pertinent data to be converted in to digital information (Stair & Reynolds, 2006).
Retail tags- For retail tags, bar code scanners allow for keeping track of inventory and for pricing and labeling.
Long documents- Optical data readers are the best bet for allowing long documents to be scanned into digital data.
Once a company has the input they need in digital form, they must have a tool that allows them to create high quality output of the information gathered. There are many output devices, but it is important to have the correct one for the job. Listed below are some examples of output and the best way to get it:
Hand held computer- The best way to get output from a hand held is through the built in liquid crystal display (LCD) since there are no other built in output features.
Color photograph- A color photo should be printed on a high resolution photo printer, or if it is a very large photo, a color plotter would be a good option.
Resume- Since most resumes are printed at home, a personal ink jet printer is the way to go.

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Memorandum- A laser jet printer would be the output device of choice because it allows greater maximum printed pages per minute.
Statistical report- A color laser jet will print out high quality graphs and charts quickly and efficiently.
Company annual report- Again, a color laser jet allows for fast printing of large documents and allows for great quality color charts and graphs.
Most people believe that storage is storage, but that is incorrect. There are two types of storage that computers use. The first type is primary storage. Primary storage is a storage location that holds program instructions for short periods of time (Stair & Reynolds, 2006). It is located within close proximity of the Central Processing Unit to decrease access time. The second type of storage is called secondary storage. Secondary storage is used for data that is needed, but may not be used often enough or may be too large to store in primary storage.
Within the two types of storage there are many different types of devices. Each is suited to be used for a specific situation. Here are some storage devices and the situation that they might be used:
Hard disk- Hard disks are used as everyday storage on your computer. Data can be stored on these disks for easy retrieval.
Floppy disk- Floppy disks are ideal for situations when you need to transport or backup small files.
RAM- RAM is used for fast access to CPU instructions.
CD ROM- CD ROM's are great for reading data off of compact disks. They are direct access storage which allows for fast access of data.
Tape- Tapes are sequential access storage devices but are cheap and capable of storing large amounts of data. They are often used for backing up large amounts of information.
There are many different factors that determine how fast a computer can read information. Below are some components that contribute to the speed, and the way in which they affect it;
RAM- RAM affects the speed of the computer because of its size. The more RAM you have the more data that can be stored and quickly accessed by the CPU.
Clock speed- The clock speed is important because it determines the speed at which the CPU can send instructions.
Data on hard disk- Data on a hard disk is direct access storage and can be accesses in seconds.
Data on CD ROM- CD ROM's are also direct access storage but are not as fast due to limitation in read speed of the CD ROM drive.
Data on floppy disk- Only small amounts of data can be stored on a floppy disk, and because it is sequential storage, it is slower that other media types.
As you can see, if a computer was just a computer it wouldn't be of much use to us. Thankfully, there have been many different inventions that have made the computer the most useful tool for just about any application. Through storage of input data and the output of information, computers have made companies more organized, more efficient, more successful, and more profitable.

References
Stair, R and Reynolds, G (2006), Fundamentals of Information Systems, 3e. Course Technology.


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