Computer Jargon Explained by Nicholas Enticknap

By Nicholas Enticknap

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It now seems likely that ISDN integrated voice and data communications will not be widely adopted until well into the next decade. 55 • • • •m ISO Many different organisations make standards which affect the life of computer professionals. Some of them are specialist technical organisations, such as Ecma (European Computer Manufacturers' Association) and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers); others are national bodies, such as BSI (British Standards Institution) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute).

This was immediately christened the microprocessor, and computers using them microcomputers. Microprocessors were initially much less powerful than processors constructed from multiple logic chips, just as minis were originally much less powerful than mainframes. They 63 found two main classes of application: limited complexity process control (as in washing machines) and personal computers. Micros and PCs are often regard as synonymous terms. Since then micros, too, have evolved and there is no functional distinction between today's 32-bit multi-user micros and a small minicomputer.

Buyer beware" is the order of the day: don't allow yourself to be seduced by technospeak. The concept was invented to symbolise the advances made in programming since the first third generation languages appeared in the fifties. But whereas these languages - Cobol and Fortran are the most widely used - were clearly distinguished from their predecessors, the second generation assembler languages, there is no such sharp dividing line between the third and fourth generations. The advances made since the introduction of Fortran and Cobol can be classified under three heads.

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