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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with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS, enabling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 ?
Combining this magnetic tape technology together with IBM Research Zurich's write and read heads, advanced servo control technologies and innovative signal-processing algorithms, Sony has achieved the industry's highest1 recording areal density of 201 Gb/in2 about 20x greater than the current2 mainstream coated magnetic tape media for data storage.
The new Cambridge magnetic tape options, grouped by subject area, are: Environment and Pollution: Environmental Sciences & Pollution Management (639,000 records), Pollution Database.
The results of this collaboration have led to various improvements in the media technology, such as advanced roll-to-roll technology for long sputtered tape fabrication and better lubricant technology, which stabilizes the functionality of the magnetic tape.
The magnetic tape industry is in its third era since the first successful tape drive appeared in 1952.
Data storage media have evolved from punched cards, punched paper tapes, magnetic drums, magnetic tapes and disks to today's technology--optical storage.
RMGI), a premier provider of magnetic tape for the audio and video markets, today announced a partnership to manufacture and distribute magnetic tape to support the instrumentation tape recording community worldwide.
23-1998: Imaging Materials -- Polyester Base Magnetic Tape -- Storage Standard.
Magnetic tape drive makers have provided efficient - if slow - ways to back up entire hard drives without using floppies.
magnetic tape, magnetic cartridges, or 5 1/4" or 3 1/2" diskettes) instead of paper forms.