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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with the development of faster, more powerful and more cost-effective microprocessors the mainframe computer has been replaced by the desktop ‘personal computer’ (PC) in routine office data-processing operations (DOWNSIZING), with PCs being linked together in LOCAL AREA NETWORKS, enabling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 ?
Charles Babbage's and Ada Lovelace's anticipation of a programmable computer in the 1820s, Friedrich Engles' 1880s prophecy of a mechanized world war, and H.
Based on an elaboration of the same programmable computer module system that controls the Micromatic melter, the Multimatic solves a longstanding problem in meltshop operations, with a resulting boost in efficiency.
PHOTO : A programmable computer in the switch cabinet controls the entire machine and pad operation.
Programmable computer control allows setting tonnage/velocity profiles through the complete cycle of the press plus retrieval of process data for future use.
"Even in the developed world, a programmable computer is a luxury item for a lot of people, and every extra dollar that we ask someone to spend decreases the chance that they'll choose to get involved.
The co-founder of (http://www.games-workshop.com) Games Workshop and life president of videogame company Eidos said the [pounds sterling]22 programmable computer was the greatest recent initiative and could influence a generation of game designers.
The firm's state-of-the-art programmable computer with memory capacity of up to 9,999 on board programs allows users to select cycle parameters of temperature, time, tumble speed and media velocity.
The firm's state-of-the-art programmable computer with memory capacity for up to 9,999 on board programs allows users to select cycle parameters of temperature, time, tumble speed and media velocity.
Other breakthroughs recognised include research on DNA, the discovery of pulsars, and the first programmable computer.
The company's state-of-the-art programmable computer allows users to select cycle parameters of temperature, time, tumble speed and media velocity.

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