Content Frame
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Home  arrow Chapter 1  arrow End of Chapter Materials  arrow Summary



In an information society, knowledge workers focus their energies on providing myriad information services. The knowledge worker’s job function revolves around the use, manipulation, and dissemination of information. Learning about computers is an adventure that will last a lifetime because information technology (IT), the integration of computing technology and information processing, is changing daily.

Information technology competency (IT competency) is emerging as a universal goal in our information society. The IT-competent person is also aware of the computer’s impact on society and is conversant in the language of technology.


The virtual frontier encompasses the electronic highways that comprise the Internet. It is likened sometimes to the Wild West because there are no rules. The opportunity for a better life is enticing pioneers to explore the virtual frontier.

The computer and IT offer you the opportunity to improve the quality of your life. It is your challenge to harness the power of the computer and direct it to the benefit of society.


The computer revolution is transforming the way we communicate, do business, and learn. This technological revolution is having a profound impact on the business community and on our private and professional lives.

Through the 1970s, computer users related their information needs to computer professionals who would then work with the computer system to generate the necessary information. Today, users work directly with their PCs to obtain the information they need.

In this century, we can anticipate traveling an information superhighway that eventually will connect virtually every facet of our society. Today, millions of people have a personal computer (PC). This widespread availability has resulted in an explosion of applications for computers at home, at play, at work, and at school/college.

We are going through a period of digital convergence, converting whatever we can in the physical and communications worlds to bits so that are compatible with computers.

During the next decade, computers will be built into our domestic, working, and external environments. Eventually we will talk to our computers within our smart homes. They will help us perform many duties around the house.

A wide range of information and telecommunication services is now available for the Internet and many more are planned. These applications include video communication, video-on-demand, interactive television, the virtual mall, telemedicine, online voting, and a national database, to mention a few. Technology-aided education is being introduced rapidly at all levels of education.

Soon, we will be able to use our electronic wallet to purchase items electronically from retail stores. Micropayments will make it possible to pay for goods and services with very small amounts. The IT innovations bring the cashless society closer to reality.

Information technology and the Internet have fueled the trend toward telecommuting. This trend is rapidly changing not only the complexion of the workforce, but also where and how we work.


We now live in a global village in which computers and people are linked within companies and between countries. The global village is an outgrowth of the computer network, which is a system of linked computers.

This spirit of sharing continues as the overriding theme over the Internet. Surfers on the Internet are continually sharing information in every conceivable digital format.

The size and scope of Internet-base information and services is so enormous that they are difficult to comprehend. In an Internet session, you can be simultaneously shocked, amazed, overwhelmed, appalled, and enlightened.


The differences in the various categories of computers are a matter of computing power, not its physical size. Today, computers are generally grouped in these categories: notebook PCs, desktop PCs, handheld computers, workstations, server computers, and supercomputers. Server computers manage the resources on a network and perform a variety of functions for client computers. All computer systems, no matter how small or large, have the same fundamental capabilities-input, processing, output, and storage. Each offers many input/output, or I/O, alternatives.

Most PCs are called Wintel PCs because they use a Microsoft Windows operating systems and Intel (or compatible) processors. The Apple Computer line of computers defines the other major platform. Most personal computers are either notebook PCs (also called laptops) or desktop PCs. Many notebook PC buyers purchase a port replicator to enjoy the expanded features of a desktop PC. Ports are electronic interfaces through which devices like the keyboard, monitor, mouse, printer, image scanner, and so on are connected. The desktop PC’s system unit contains the processor, disk storage, and other components. Many continuously in mobile knowledge workers use wearable PCs.

The typical off-the-shelf PC is configured with a keyboard, a point-and-draw device, a monitor, a printer, a hard-disk, a CD -RW and/or DVD+RW (CD or DVD burner), a microphone, and speakers.

Palmtop PC, personal digital assistant (PDA), connected organizer, personal communicator, mobile business center, and Web phone are just some of the names for handheld computers. A handheld can have a variety of physical shapes and sizes, referred to as its form factor. Pen-based computers which may or may not have small keyboards, make use of an electronic pen, call a stylus, to do such tasks as selecting options, entering data (via handwritten characters), and drawing. Speech-recognition technology, which allows the user to enter spoken words into the system, is being integrated into high-end handheld computers. Handheld computers support a variety of personal information management (PIM) systems, including appointment scheduling and to-do lists. You may also be using handhelds to read a good e-book via the computer’s text-to-speech software.

The workstation’s speed and variety of input/output devices set it apart from a PC. A common use of workstations is for engineering design.

The server computer performs a variety of functions for the other computers on the network, called client computers. Typically, the client computer is a PC or a workstation.

Supercomputers are very fast computers that primarily address processor-bound applications; that is applications which require little in the way of input or output.


Computers are very good at producing information, which is data that have been collected and processed into a meaningful form.

The computer is fast, accurate, consistent, and reliable, and aids in communications and has an enormous memory capacity. Computer operations are measured in milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, and picoseconds.

Pearson Copyright © 1995 - 2010 Pearson Education . All rights reserved. Pearson Prentice Hall is an imprint of Pearson .
Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Permissions

Return to the Top of this Page