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with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS,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

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

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.

Collins Dictionary of Economics, 4th ed. © C. Pass, B. Lowes, L. Davies 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
It was only when the first digital computers had come into action that the extent of Babbage's genius became fully appreciated.
A digital computer perforce works within a logical system, and it is known that within such a system there are things that cannot be done.
1937-1942 - John Atanasoff develops the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, or ABC, the first electronic digital computer.
Babbage meanwhile continued to complain because the government would not fund his much more ambitious analytical engine, a forerunner of the digital computer. The device was in fact impractical (mechanical computers are too slow), so (Kealey contends) the British government was quite right to refuse to fund it.
Use of the Internet was limited to communication of e-mail messages in alphanumeric text and digital computer files between universities, government agencies, and a few private firms for all but the last two of the past 30 years, with the general public and commercial firms paying little attention.
Critics complain that a digital computer lacks awareness or understanding, that it is just making unconscious computations.
For example, the core laws enforced by the SEC were written two-thirds of a century ago--before the digital computer, the Internet, online securities trading, and the effective globalization of the capital markets.
Irvine has been badly hit by job losses at Volvo Trucks, which shed 250 workers in June, and the Digital computer plant, where hundreds are to be paid off.
Since a digital computer controller only recognizes zeroes and ones, it needs an A/D board to convert the analog signals into this digital form so it can use analog signals in its control scheme.
In his 1971 AFS Charles Edgar Hoyt Memorial Lecture, Ronald Ruddle, Foseco, Inc., made the following prediction: "...we shall within 2 decades see the digital computer take over much of the risering practice." He went on to state, "...it seems likely that in a short while, all one may need to do is feed into the computer a drawing of the casting plus indication of the thermal properties of the mold material and of the alloy being used, its solidification characteristics and the degree of soundness desired in the casting.
The centre uses a digital computer system called Control 2000, which will speed up response times and help cope with one million calls a year.
In addition, the XP-56d has a digital computer or input for ultimate clarity of images.

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