The hardware topic deals with a computer system consisting of input devices, output devices, a central processing unit and storage. ITGS students are required to understand the meaning of the terms and concepts listed here and, where appropriate, briefly describe how they work.

The increasing tendency to develop hardware in modular units raises a range of social impacts and ethical issues such as the use of non-renewable natural resources, the global transportation of manufactured components and their eventual disposal by individuals, organizations and governments. Students are expected to discuss possible solutions and evaluate their effectiveness.

Possible scenario

A computer user is planning to upgrade their current computer system to a newer model and must use their knowledge to:
  • understand the specifications of the proposed new system
  • evaluate other physical considerations that may influence the choice of the physical environment of the proposed new system, such as ergonomics and other health-related issues
  • suggest upgrades to the computer system to take advantage of improvements in components, such as processing speed
  • describe how the proper disposal of the old computer system can take place and whether the choice of computer may be affected by the manufacturer’s policies on disposal.

IT Concepts
  • Types of computers: personal digital assistant (PDA), laptop, desktop computer
  • MAC address
  • Motherboard
  • Central processing unit (CPU), microprocessor, clock speed: for example, megahertz (MHz), gigahertz (GHz), terahertz (THz)
  • Primary storage: read-only memory (ROM), random-access memory (RAM)
  • Secondary storage: optical, magnetic, flash memory: for example, USB (universal serial bus) flash drive
  • Bit, byte, kilobyte (KB), megabyte (MB), gigabyte (GB), terabyte (TB), petabyte (PB), exabyte (EB), zettabyte (ZB), yottabyte (YB)
  • Character encoding: ASCII (Unicode and American Standard Code for Information Interchange)
  • Ports
  • Firewire

Input and Output Devices
  • Keyboards, mice, touch pads
  • Optical mark recognition (OMR), optical character recognition (OCR), magnetic ink character recognition (MICR), radio frequency identification (RFID), radio tag, bar code scanners, magnetic stripe readers
  • Microphones
  • Smart card readers
  • Webcams, digital cameras, digital video cameras
  • Sensors, probes, real-time data collection
  • Composite devices: for example, game controllers
  • Touch-sensitive devices: for example, pads
  • Printers, monitors, speakers, projectors
  • CD-ROM (compact disc read-only memory), DVD (digital versatile/video disk) readers and burners

Task - undertake personal research making notes where appropriate on the IT concepts and input / output devices listed above. You may already have a solid knowledge of some concepts / devices, but you need to ensure that you read up on anything which you don't fully understand. Later, we will apply your knowledge to different scenarios.

E Book - Digital Planet (very useful resource)

Over the course, we will be making full use of the E Book "Digital Planet" and the companion website. The links for the hardware section are:

You should find relevant links to other sites.

Other Useful resources


Discussion Topics

Choose a news article which interests you. Use the IT template below to analyse the article (social / ethical issues, IT systems, stakeholders, areas of impact).

What happens to outdated technology?
Life Span of Storage Media
E-waste in India
Ghana - dumping ground for old computers?
Who is responsible for making computers greener?

Authenticity of hardware

Patent issues
Apple sues Samsung over patent dispute

Digital Divide
What is the digital divide?
World wakes up to Digital Divide
Old meets new

Quick review

Teacher: see hardware_quick review_possible ans for acceptable answers

Hardware in the news