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Fig. 23 Computer. The main items of hardware.

computer

an electronic/electromechanical device which accepts alphabetical and numerical data in a predefined form, stores and processes this data according to the instructions contained in a COMPUTER PROGRAM, and presents the analysed data in an organized form. Fig. 23 shows the main items of computer HARDWARE, with input devices like KEYBOARDS, and magnetic tape readers; the CPU (central processing unit) which manipulates data; DISK DRIVES which provide additional data storage capacity; and output devices like PRINTERS and VISUAL DISPLAY UNITS. The figure shows how a number of computers may be linked in a LOCAL AREA NETWORK, in this case to process customer orders, maintain the sales LEDGER and issue INVOICES.

Big ‘mainframe’ computers are used to handle large databases. For example, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea holds over 60 million records on its mainframe computer. Increasingly, however, with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS, enabling them to share data. A further development has been the introduction of small portable computers typified by the ‘notebook’ personal computer which can be carried in a briefcase.

Computers have dramatically improved the productivity of DATA PROCESSING in business, facilitating the keeping of ACCOUNTING ledger records like sales ledger, purchases ledger and payroll and personal records by small numbers of clerical staff. In addition, software packages like SPREADSHEETS and WORD PROCESSORS have improved the presentation and analysis of management information, helping to improve decision-making. See FLEXIBLE MANUFACTURING SYSTEM, PRODUCTION LINE, ELECTRONIC MAIL SYSTEM, COMPUTER-AIDED DESIGN, COMPUTER-AIDED MANUFACTURING, INFORMATION MANAGEMENT, BULLETIN BOARD, MODEM, INTERNET.

computer

an electronic/electromechanical device that accepts alphabetical and numerical data in a predetermined form, stores and processes this data according to instructions contained in a computer program, and presents the analysed data. Computers have dramatically improved the productivity of data processing in commerce and business; for example, computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing systems have improved the speed and cost with which new components or products can be assigned and subsequently scheduled for production;

computer-aided distribution and stock control systems such as ELECTRONIC POINT OF SALE (EPOS) have helped to minimize stockholdings and have improved customer services; computers have rapidly taken over the manual tasks of keeping accounting records such as company sales and payroll. Computers have also played a prominent role in speeding up the response of commodity and financial markets to changing demand and supply conditions by processing and reporting transactions quickly.

In recent years computers have underpinned the rapid expansion of E-COMMERCE using the INTERNET. See STOCK EXCHANGE, AUTOMATION, MASS PRODUCTION.

References in periodicals archive ?
You should also realize that computer systems are not just subject to vulnerabilities which are intentionally inflicted by hackers or disgruntled employees but may result from natural disasters, such as floods or fires.
Hayslett said the court has computer systems to track cases before the court, financial system computers and computers used for word processing.
Exploitation: the hacker wants to exploit a computer or computer system to obtain information or vandalize the computer.
Frequently, data entry is outsourced to firms in Mexico, the Caribbean, and India, where labor is far less expensive and the desire to obtain any computer systems work is much higher than in America.
SAN-Attached Storage (SAS) refers to storage elements that connect directly to a SAN and provide file, database, block, or other types of data access services to computer systems.
The City does not have sufficiently trained, accounting-wise, computer personnel to resolve the thousands of billing errors affecting both computer systems.
But before churches plunge into purchasing a high-tech system, Sam Taylor, the church's computer systems supervisor, cautions that all the savings and conveniences do not come without a price.
The implementation of a computer system in a nursing home is not as scary as it used to be.
There are many computer systems costing less than $1000.
The report -- one of the most comprehensive looks at security problems in nonmilitary, unclassified computer systems and networks -- paints an alarming picture of the parlous state of those systems.
Fujitsu Computer Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) committed to the design, development and delivery of advanced computer systems and managed services for the business enterprise.
However, many older "legacy" computer systems still have software or databases without this capability.

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