The purpose of this paper was to compare response time to visual and auditory digit cues in the context of man-machine system. The effects of age, gender, education level, time spent on computer in daily life, left/right finger, and choice alternative on response time were also examined. A total of 69 right-handed Chinese participants took part in the visual and auditory stimuli tests. The result showed that the auditory response time was significantly shorter than that for visual cues. For both visual and auditory cues, in general, the response time decreased with an increase of age up to the 21-30 years, and thereafter it increased gradually with an increase of age. Females were found to respond faster than males. The response of tertiary and secondary education groups was faster than that of primary education group. Besides, the longer the time spent on computer in daily life, the shorter was the response time. In addition, the right finger response time was shorter than the left finger response time. The response on single-choice task was the fastest, followed by two-choice task and then four- and eight-choice tasks. Implications of the results on the design of alerting cue and man-machine system were discussed. The findings of this study would act as a useful reference for engineers and designers to realize how the visual and auditory modality channels could interfere the users, so as to design a more user-friendly human-machine-interface. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.