- The definition of a computer is a person or electronic device that makes and stores quick calculations or processes information.
- An example of a famous human computer is Ada Lovelace.
- An example of a computer is the MacBook.
A silver laptop computer.
computer definition by Webster's New World
- a person who computes
- a device used for computing; specif., an electronic machine which, by means of stored instructions and information, performs rapid, often complex calculations or compiles, correlates, and selects data; now, esp., digital computer
computer definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- A device that computes, especially a programmable electronic machine that performs high-speed mathematical or logical operations or that assembles, stores, correlates, or otherwise processes information.
- One who computes.
computer - Computer Definition
A machine that computes. Specifically, a modern computer is a digital electronic system that performs complex calculations or compiles, correlates, or otherwise processes data based on instructions in the form of stored programs and input data.A device that can receive, store, retrieve, process, and output data.
A programmable machine that responds to specified instructions and can execute a list of instructions known as a program. Today’s computers are electronic and digital—with wires, transistors, and circuits comprising the hardware and instructions and data comprising the software. Computers generally have these hardware components: (1) memory, allowing a computer to store data and programs, at least temporarily; (2) mass storage devices, allowing a computer to store and retain large amounts of data on the disk drives and tape drives; (3) input devices such as keyboards and a mouse, which act as conduits through which data are entered into a computer; (4) output devices, such as display screens and printers, that let users see what the computer has performed; and (5) a CPU or central processing unit, the primary component that executes the commands or instructions.
On a humorous note, in a New Scientist article, futurologist Ray Kurzwell said that although a $1,000 personal computer in 2005 has about the computing power equivalent to that of an insect brain, if development advances continue at the same rate into the future, within 15 years a $1,000 personal computer should have the computing power equivalent to that of a human brain.
On a global note, a controversial “computer-political” case arose on March 8, 2005, when Japan’s anti-monopoly agency demanded that Intel Corporation stop business practices that the agency alleged were giving the world’s dominant CPU chip maker an unfair advantage in the PC marketplace. Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) maintained that it would put forth a motion to enforce harsh actions if Intel failed to respond within 10 days to the allegations.
In particular, the FTC claimed that Intel was in breach of Japan’s antitrust laws as early as 2002 when the company gave discounts and marketing payments to PC manufacturers in exchange for exclusivity or near-exclusivity. The FTC claimed that Intel was engaging in actions to keep the CPUs made by competing companies from being used—thus resulting in the limited marketing success of Japan’s own CPU chip manufacturers. Intel’s marketshare of the CPU market in Japan rose to 90% in 2004 from 78% in 2002. The FTC alleged that Intel had offered special incentives to Hitachi Ltd., Sony Corporation, Fujitsu Ltd., Toshiba Corporation, and NEC Corporation to use the Intel chip and the branding of “Intel Inside” or “Centrino” (Intel’s wireless networking chipset). Intel defended its business practices as being not only fair but also lawful.
Associated Press. Microchips: Japanese Watchdog says Intel Practices Illegal. The Globe and Mail, March 9, 2005, p. B12; Kesterton, M. Upgrade Your System? The Globe and Mail, May 6, 2005.
A general-purpose machine that processes data according to a set of instructions that are stored internally either temporarily or permanently. The computer and all the equipment attached to it are called "hardware." The instructions that tell it what to do are called "software." A set of instructions that perform a particular task is called a "program" or "software program." See how to select a computer.
What a Computer DoesThe instructions in the program direct the computer to input, process and output as follows: Input/Output The computer can selectively retrieve data into its main memory (RAM) from any peripheral device (magnetic disk, optical disk, etc.) or network connected to it. After processing the data internally, the computer can send a copy of the results from its memory out to any peripheral device or to the network. A system's size is based on how much memory it has. The more memory, the more programs and data it can work with at the same time. Storage By transferring data out to a magnetic disk, the computer is able to store data permanently and retrieve it when required. A system's size is also based on how much disk storage it has. The more disk, the more data are available.
Processing (The 3 C's)The computer performs all data processing by "calculating," "comparing" and "copying" the data stored in its memory (RAM). Calculate The computer can perform any mathematical operation on data by adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing one set with another. Compare The computer can find, analyze and evaluate data by matching it with sets of known data that are included in the program or called in from storage. Copy The computer can rearrange data for reporting and organizing.
The Stored Program ConceptThe computer's capability of calling in and following a set of instructions is the "stored program concept." Before any data can be processed, instructions are read into memory from a disk or other source. The processing starts with the first instruction in the program, which is copied into a control unit circuit and compared against a set of built-in instructions. The control unit executes the instructions sequentially until it finds one that causes it to break the sequence and go elsewhere in the program. A CPU chip can handle billions of instructions per second, and as long as the instructions are valid and address data within the program's boundaries, the control unit executes them. If not, the computer comes to an abnormal end (see abend). Operations Overlap Input/output and processing overlap. While data are being read or written, which is much slower than instruction execution, the operating system can direct the computer to process data in another program or for another user.
Computer GenerationsFirst-generation computers, starting with the UNIVAC I in 1951, used vacuum tubes, and their memories were made of thin tubes of liquid mercury and magnetic drums. Second-generation systems in the late 1950s replaced tubes with transistors and used magnetic cores for memories (IBM 1401, Honeywell 800). Size was reduced and reliability was significantly improved. Third-generation computers, beginning in the mid-1960s, used the first integrated circuits (IBM 360, CDC 6400) and the first operating systems and DBMSs. Online systems were widely developed, although most processing was still batch oriented using punch cards and magnetic tapes. Starting in the mid-1970s, the fourth generation spawned the microprocessor and personal computer and introduced distributed processing and office automation. Query languages, report writers and spreadsheets put large numbers of people in touch with the computer for the first time. Even with the billions of people using computers every day, we are still in the fourth generation. The fifth generation implies faster hardware and more sophisticated software that uses artificial intelligence (AI). Natural language recognition is a major feature. When you can have a reasonably intelligent conversation with your computer, you will be in the fifth generation, perhaps in the 2015-2020 time frame.
computer - Cultural Definition
computer - Science Definition