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Types of Computer Systems in Business

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  • 0:03 Computing Resources
  • 0:37 Types of Computer Systems
  • 2:43 How Computer Systems Are Used
  • 4:48 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

Computing devices used for business purposes come in all shapes and sizes, from smartphones to supercomputers. In this lesson, we'll examine how these devices are utilized to make a business run smoothly.

Computing Resources

Today's computing resources are amazingly powerful. Stunning but true, the smartphone in your pocket is many times more powerful than the computers NASA used to guide the Apollo mission to the moon in 1969! To achieve business goals, companies can now utilize everything from smartphones to supercomputers to access, store, manipulate, and create information. So if a smartphone that you can hold in your hand is as powerful as a room of computers was in 1969, imagine the power of today's supercomputers, which may still fill a room.

Types of Computer Systems

The main types of computer systems used in business, from largest to smallest, are supercomputers, mainframes, minicomputers (also known as mid-range), and personal computers. Let's look into each type and how it's used:

Supercomputers

These are the big boys, massively powerful and very expensive, meant for large scale functioning, with prices ranging from $500,000 to over $100 million. They can process billions and trillions of bits of data per second for hundreds of users. They are often used for modeling and simulations, such as crashing virtual cars for testing purposes, oil and gas exploration, and aircraft design. They can also be used to run aspects of a cloud-based company, such as Facebook or Google.

Mainframes

Next in size and power, mainframes have been around since the early 1950s and they were initially used by the government. They're not as big as they used to be, maybe the size of a refrigerator versus taking up an entire room. Pricing starts somewhere around $100,000. Mainframes can store large amounts of data, process bulk transactions (think of an ATM network), and support thousands of users.

Minicomputers

Minicomputers, now known as mid-range computers, flourished in the time between the rise of mainframes and the introduction of the personal computer. As the name implies, they were more powerful than the first PCs and less expensive and less powerful than mainframes. Today, most mid-range computers are used as network servers, parsing out data and applications to users across a company network. This category is definitely shrinking as personal computers become more powerful.

Personal Computers (PCs)

Personal computers have been around since the late 1970s. They come in many forms now. Desktops, laptops, tablets, and even smartphones are all essentially PCs. PCs can be used for running personal productivity software, like Microsoft Office; they can be used to access the Internet; and they can also be used for specialty software, like accounting programs.

How Computer Systems Are Used

Even if you run a service business, such as cutting hair or cutting lawns, you might find it difficult to pay your bills or invoice your customers without a computer. Let's look at some common business uses for computers.

Accounting

Accounting was one of the first business uses for a computer and it remains prevalent today. Everything from the flea market vendor that runs your credit card on the smartphone to large companies tracking thousands of purchases a second, this is one of the best ways to harness the awesome calculating speed of today's computers.

Documents and Presentations

Even a small business can create great looking output using today's word processing and presentation packages. When you combine this with the capability to communicate these documents anywhere in the world via email and the Internet, the power just multiplies exponentially.

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