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with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS,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


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 ?
He is also the brains behind the development of RenderMan software and numerous other algorithms that made computer graphics practical for use in the film industry.
The one- to two-day workshops provide lively, small-group discussions of important issues in computer graphics.
Algorithms for ordinary computer graphics make certain assumptions about angles that aren't true for this particular [way of representing] hyperbolic space," says Gunn, who works on the Geometry Supercomputer Project at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis-St.
In addition to his own professional achievements, Catmull founded three of the most renowned computer graphics research centers in the world including the computer graphics laboratory at the New York Institute of Technology and the computer division of both Lucasfilm, Ltd.
Another SIGGRAPH product designed to assist those interested in computer graphics is its just published Computer Graphics Career Handbook, written and edited by members of the Careers Project Committee.
As a result of the program changes approved by the state community college Chancellor's Office, students will now be able to earn associate degrees in any five computer graphics areas: computer graphics, digital photographics imaging, computer animation, digital printing and photography.
Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium, the first television computer graphics were shown Dec.
com/reports/c43463) has announced the addition of Computer Graphics Companion to their offering.
Expertly co-authored by Elmar Langetepe (Assistant Professor at the University of Bonn, Germany) and Gabriel Zachmann (Professor for Computer Graphics and Multimedia at the Technical University of Clausthal, Germany), Geometric Data Structures For Computer Graphics is a comprehensive documentation of the computer sciences of data structures and algorithms from computational geometry.
SigGraph is the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group in Computer Graphics.

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