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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with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS, enabling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 ?
NEW YORK -- The drive to convert magnetic tapes to digital media is presenting mass retailers with a new offshoot of the blank media category with tremendous potential.
Slightly faster growth is expected for magnetic tape. Further growth is unlikely, says the report, owing to the onslaught of new technologies such as digital photography, compact discs, and digital versatile discs (DVDs).
Flight data are recorded either by magnetic tape or in solid-state memory.
Chief financial officers may be delighted to print data on paper, because they think paper storage of medical and administrative records is cheaper than electronic storage on magnetic disk drives, optical disk drives, or magnetic tape, but CFOs, who have never suffered through chart review, do not understand the hideous inefficiency of abstracting clinical data from paper records in order to perform clinical research, quality improvement, and utilization and risk management studies.
The enthusiasm is less for the optical disk medium itself than for its integration with a software package that allows patient files to be retrieved in seconds, rather than hours or days as is the case with such traditional archiving tools as microfiche, magnetic tape, and paper.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has a new package of chemical health and safety information available on magnetic tape. With the release of CHEMINFO Tape, two popular CCOHS database products, MSDS and CHEMINFO, are now available for mainframe or mini-computer systems.
32 Equipment components will probably include a central processing unit, printers, terminals (keyboards and display screens), magnetic disk drives, optical disk drives, and magnetic tape drives.
Most shown in this section are available, beginning with 1959, on diskette or magnetic tape. For order information, write to the National Income and Wealth Division (BE-54), Bureau of Economic Analysis, Washington, DC 20230, or call (202) 523-0669.
In the first section Saffady compares optical disk and magnetic disk drives and media, and in the second he compares optical disk and magnetic tape technology.
Mainframes are used by only 19 percent, compact disks by 11 percent, removable hard disks by 10 percent, magnetic tape by eight percent, Syquest drives by one percent and Bernoulli Boxes by another one percent (chart 3).
* Recorded magnetic tape mini for information interchange, 12 tracks 0.150 in (3.80 mm), 20 tracks on a 0.150 in.