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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with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS, enabling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 ?
220 terabytes is the highest capacity in the world for coated magnetic tape.
This milestone reaffirms IBM's continued commitment and leadership in magnetic tape technology.
Although coated magnetic tape is highly suited for mass production, the development of technologies capable of further reducing the size of magnetic particles in order to increase recording density in the future has become a significant challenge.
3 + Magi Mags Magnetic Tape Series and Cubico G Magnetic Wall Sticker Series offer a new and easy way to decorate our living room, bedroom, dinning room or nursery.
Paul Howard, managing director of DISUK, said: 'There are more copies of data floating around than ever before, and a great deal of it is on vulnerable magnetic tape.
Tape is (1) a more mature and stable technology (the first magnetic tape drives were introduced in the early 1950s); and (2) it is slower due to the serial nature of the search and retrieval.
Since 2002, IBM has been working closely with FUJIFILM particularly on the optimization of its dual-coat magnetic tape based on BaFe particles.
Magnetic tape industry revenue has been down slightly since the middle of 2000 when the global and economic downturn began, but the financial decline has been much less than that of the disk industry.
Joe Miller, a University of Southern California neurobiologist, could not read magnetic tapes from NASA's 1976 Viking landings on Mars.
Most of these are received on magnetic tape and processed in Martinsburg, West Virginia.
Optical disks such as write once, read many (WORM) drives and erasable optical disks are portable and could somebday displace magnetic tape due to their greater storage capacities, smaller space requirements, removability, transportability and longer guaranteed media life.