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The Architecture of Computer Hardware, Systems Software, & Networking: An Information Technology Approach

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The modern world offers lots of readily available online resources for learning. Wikipedia, Google, news sources, millions of Web sites and blogs, even YouTube, offer access to information in nearly any subject that triggers your curiosity and interest. Nonetheless, I continue to believe that for deep understanding of something, nothing beats the integrated approach and focus of an old-fashioned printed-on-paper textbook.

When I open a new book, in any subject, the first thing I want to know is what the book has to offer that makes it worth my while to read it. I would like to try to help you answer that question for the book that you’re holding in your hand.

The information systems and technology fields are wonderfully exciting places to be! It seems as though every day brings new developments that alter the ways we create and work with information. Of course, with this excitement comes a challenge. To be a successful player in IS or IT we have to be adaptable and flexible.

Much of the change occurs around computer system technology. The computer is, after all, at the foundation of information systems. A deep understanding of computer systems is, therefore, an essential element of success. We must be able to understand each new development, assess its value, and place it in the context of our knowledge of computer systems.

The subjectof thisbookis the architectureof computer systems. Computer architecture is about the structure and operation of digital computers. Computer architecture is concerned with the operational methods of the hardware; with the services provided by operating system software; with the acquisition, processing, storage, and output of data; and with the interaction between computers.

There is a tendency for people in information systems and technology to neglect a study of computer architecture. After all, the technology changes so rapidly—is it really worth trying to understand something thatmay be out of date by the time I finish this book? There is no question that computer technology has evolved rapidly. The computer in a personal computer, or even in a cell phone or MP3 player is far more powerful than the mainframe computer of twenty-five years ago, with memory, disk and flash storage capacity, display and multimedia capability, and ease of use that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Even more important, connecting systems to work together is now routine and simple.

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