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The Three Main Components of Computer Information System

Updated on March 02, 2017
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Alfred is a long time teacher and computer enthusiast who works with and troubleshoots a wide range of computing devices.

A computer information system encompasses three major components namely, hardware, software, and humanware. Each of the three components depends on the other two to allow a complete information system.

If installed separately, each one of them will be useful elsewhere, probably, but redundant in achieving any objective computing goal. That is to say, computer hardware cannot operate without software and neither can software operate without hardware. The two components also need the workmanship of a living human soul in order to make computing sense.

The three components, therefore form the basis upon which a computer actually operates.

Above is a desktop computer set comprising various hardware components namely, system unit, monitor, keyboard, mouse and printer
Above is a desktop computer set comprising various hardware components namely, system unit, monitor, keyboard, mouse and printer

The Three Components of a Computer information System Explained

Below are illustrations and examples of the aforementioned computer components:

  • Hardware,
  • Software,
  • Humanware,

and how each one compliments each others.

1: Computer Hardware Component

Computer hardware component refer to computer parts that are tangible. Examples include;

  • Display monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Motherboard
  • Memory modules
  • Disk drive
  • etc.

Usually, the components listed above are housed within the laptop and desktop computer system unit, except for the keyboard and mouse hardware in the latter.

Above is an illustration of various hardware components inside the system unit,
Above is an illustration of various hardware components inside the system unit,

Probably, the most important piece of hardware in the computer is the microprocessor chip called the central processing unit (CPU): Newer mobile computers come embedded with a union of CPU and graphics processing chip (GPU) called Accelerated Processing Unit, abbreviated as APU.

As for you and I, the most important hardware component may actually be the storage device within the computer where data is stored.

The AMD CPU is an example of a microprocessor and as shown above, is attached to a motherboard
The AMD CPU is an example of a microprocessor and as shown above, is attached to a motherboard

This piece of hardware is commonly referred to as the brain of the computer. Its responsibility is to translate instructions assigned to it and will perform all sorts of data manipulation/processing.

Another equally important hardware component in the system unit is the disk drive. This hardware component is where data and information is stored locally within the computer. There are two popluar types of disk drives:

  • Hard disk drive (HDD)
  • Solid state disk drive (SDD)

Hard disk drive: A hard disk drive is mechanical by design and stores data on magnetic metallic platters which are read by read/write heads. This makes this type of disk drive rather erratic and prone to failure if used badly. The newer solid state disk drive, stores data on flash memory chips are two popular disk drive types.

Solid state disk drive: The newer solid state disk drive, stores data on flash memory chips and is less prone to erratic behavior of the hard disk drive. An SSD is much faster and reliable compared to HDD and other types of flash based storage devices.

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Also inside the system unit is another very important hardware component called motherboard.

As the word suggests, the motherboard is like the 'mother' within the computer, providing communication and direct connectivity to all devices.

Sample Acer motherboard
Sample Acer motherboard

Connectivity to computer motherboard can be internal or external.

Internal devices that connect to the motherboard include:

  • Microprocessor (CPU)
  • Disk drive
  • Random access memory (memory modules)
  • Power supply unit (PSU)

External peripherals devices that connect to the motherboard include:

  • Monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Printer

Above is Apple's iMac computer, an example of a single unit computer set: It contains the system unit and monitor bundled together
Above is Apple's iMac computer, an example of a single unit computer set: It contains the system unit and monitor bundled together
Unlike the desktop and single unit computers which have the mouse and keybaord as separate devices, the two are integrated within the laptop computer
Unlike the desktop and single unit computers which have the mouse and keybaord as separate devices, the two are integrated within the laptop computer

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Read the article below to get a better picture of the different sets and categories of computers.

2: Computer Software Component

Computer software refers to the instructions, programs, data and protocols which run on hardware parts.

Software is subdivided into two major categories, namely system software and application software.

Computer software component  running inside the computer
Computer software component running inside the computer
  • System Software

System software, also Operating System (OS) is software that manages other software and devices in a computer.

The operating system is like the mother of computer software. It is the software that is installed first in the computer, followed by application software. Three well known operating system software variants for traditional computers include Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

Popular mobile operating system software types include Android OS, iPhone OS, Windows Phone OS and Firefox OS.

  • Application Software

A word processing application that one uses to compose letters in the computer e.g. Microsoft Word, is a type of program or application software.

Other popular examples of application software include; Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw and AutoCad.

Some application software collections also come in packages that are commonly known as software suite. A software suite serves more than just one application need.

A typical suite includes software that cater for word processing, presentation, graphic design and spreadsheet: It could be less, more or different, but serving different needs.

Examples of software suites include Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and iWork.

Computer software is written in computer languages such as Visual Basic, C, Java, etc by software designers.

For many years, computer software usually was stored in optical discs but that is changing fast with most storage done in the cloud
For many years, computer software usually was stored in optical discs but that is changing fast with most storage done in the cloud

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3: The Humanware Component

Humanware refers to the user of the computer hardware and software. It is about the individual that uses the computer for productive or entertainment purposes.

The design of humanware often begins with understanding the needs and limitations of the end user and working bottom-up to design a product that is ultimately useful.

Typically, a great deal of testing is done on the software package to ensure that its productivity enhances the end user’s experience.

The user interacts with hardware to produce needful output. It is the user to type a letter, help record music, communicate over the airwaves and ultimately give all directives to computer hardware and software.

Computer user, an example of the humanware component
Computer user, an example of the humanware component

Analogy of the Components of a Computer Information System

In a nutshell, a working computer system is comparable to what happens in the kitchen where you basically have:

  • Food and cookware - Hardware
  • The recipe - Software
  • The chef - hhumanware

Even after purchasing the freshest grocery and even with ownership of the finest pots and pans, you will not have a good meal without a good chef: a man or woman who knows the ins and outs of a good meal, and has the ultimate recipe to prepare food to the finest taste.

Both computer hardware and computer software are complemented by the works of humanware to produce a fully functional computer system.

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    • thranax profile image

      Andrew 4 years ago from Rep Boston MA

      Nice little overview anyone can understand. It's a step in the right direction to teach the general population computers aren't scary and learning about them isn't difficult!

      ~thranax~

    • amuno profile image
      Author

      Alfred Amuno 4 years ago from Kampala

      Thanks Thranax. I believe little articles in Hubpages should go about passing info like this around.

    • profile image

      Maria Hathaway 14 months ago

      This article has really taught me a lot. I never understood this part of the computer, but now I do. Thank you very much.

    • amuno profile image
      Author

      Alfred Amuno 14 months ago from Kampala

      Good to know Maria

    • profile image

      jannah calim 9 months ago

      thankshubpage

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