computer


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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with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS, enabling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 ?
The refurbished computers are placed in computer labs, libraries and classrooms, but the district also purchases new units for teacher stations and high-end applications.
Computer science has tremendous power to make a big difference in people's lives," says Caitlin Kelleher, a graduate student in computer science at CMU.
By pumping information at children at phenomenal speed, the computer short-circuits that process.
In addition, antivirus software should be installed on each computer and updated frequently to ensure protection against the latest security threats.
By providing the most effective computer adaptations to meet consumers' needs, the opportunity of satisfaction and continued use become enhanced.
The initial propagation of the attack runs in computer memory and can achieve global infection in minutes or hours rather than days, making blended threats very hard to defend against.
The computer is able to illustrate some concepts and mathematical principles that are difficult to teach by traditional methods (Torgensen & Young, 1983).
In many ways, recording directly into your computer seems like the simplest idea.
Contact the IT department if you suspect your computer has been infected by a virus.
Also, it is desirable to have access to data that was on the computer further back in time than just the previous day or two.
NATURE AS COMPUTER The idea of a physical system calculating something about knots or other loops may sound strange, but in fact examples of such systems abound, even in basic physics.

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