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Related to Digital computers: Analog computers
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Fig. 23 Computer. The main items of hardware.


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with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS, enabling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.

Collins Dictionary of Business, 3rd ed. © 2002, 2005 C Pass, B Lowes, A Pendleton, L Chadwick, D O’Reilly and M Afferson


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.

Collins Dictionary of Economics, 4th ed. © C. Pass, B. Lowes, L. Davies 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
In Fractal Trialism, the Platonic Level of digital computers is the ability of the subconscious to be reliably programmed and act as an interface between conscious intention and the environment.
A computer certainly has the ability to create millions of contrapuntal lines of music, but there is no way for a digital computer to make the purely human decision that some particular lines of music are pleasing.
He wants to know where the proliferation of digital computers and the growth of the worldwide telecommunications network that connects them is leading us: "Do we remain one species, or diverge into many?
One reason for this is that the term computer is often wrongly interpreted to exclusively denote serial digital computers. But the PC, like the slide rule, is just one example of a device that makes computations.
During the race into space in the 1960s, digital computers experienced explosive growth.
For example, the book focuses on interference sources that have a broad frequency spectrum, such as digital computers. These computers are sufficiently ubiquitous to interfere with numerous electronic systems unless the computers are shielded and radiated signal levels are reduced to accepted standards.
On a practical level, the fact that there are limitations to what digital computers can do is illustrated by their inability to solve differential equations directly.
This weighting of outputs is a form of analog logic, in contrast to the binary yes-or-no logic of today's digital computers.
Physicists and electrical engineers describe analog circuitry that is used to process the charge generated by radiation detectors to extract useful information that can be transformed into a stream of bits for digital computers. Their topics include integrated analog signal processing readout front ends for particle detectors, low-noise detectors through incremental sigma-delta analog-digital converters, digital pulse-processing techniques for X-ray, silicon photo-multipliers for high-performance scintillation crystal readout applications, and complementary metal-oxide semiconductor image sensors for radiation detection.
The final chapter considers the process of modeling and memorizing physical events as stochastic processes, and approaches the problem of neural computing from a different angle than digital computers.
The first military command and control system to employ digital computers, SAGE became a prototype for all subsequent on-line, real-time systems--military and civilian--and a laboratory for the development of many of the computer programming concepts that would revolutionize the software industry.

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