As you read this passage, stop to answer the marginal questions. Do not use a dictionary until you have read the whole passage and have tried to work out the meanings of words and expressions.
The electronic computer began life during the Second World War as a high-powered calculating machine for dealing with complex mathematical problems, but in the
1 intervening means: intervening1 forty years it has changed a
b betoeen then and now great deal. The vast majority of computers
c previous nowadays are used for relatively humdrum2
2 c«gSandh ^exciting and tasks> SUchaSSt0rinS> classifying, sorting,
new or ordinary and monotonous? cataloguing and retrieving information of all
3 what does this refer to? kinds. This3 has become possible because of
4 a si^ce0"'6* aSmean$the cheapness of mass-produced chips; as4
b while the technology improves,5 the chips work at
5 what are the two effects ever-increasing speeds, allowing more work
mentioned here of improved , . . . . ,
technology? to be done in the same time, and memories
become 'larger', which really means
6 Cramming = pushing cramming6 more data into the same tiny
7 do you think a spin-off is planned Much of this development is a spin-off from
or unexpected? . , r,
the space programme, and from work on controlling missile systems. The problems involved in controlling fleets of missiles are
8 Find an antonym for huge in the so huge8 that a massive research effort goes previous paragraph. .^ producing powerful computers to carry
out the necessary calculations at the speed
9 which effort? needed; eventually this9 effort should provide
benefits in civilian life. Already one effect is the accurate weather forecasts produced with
I o which refers to... ? the aid of large 'supercomputers', which10
benefit oil exploration, airlines, the construction industry and many others who need to plan for different weather conditions.
II in this context trend means: The trend11 is to use this increased power to b [dea bring the computer closer12 to the user.
c general direction Instead of programming computers in
12 l^S^cJS^SSr comPlexbinary codes' Programming
languages have become closer to normal business or scientific language. A large part of the computer is taken up with programs (operating systems) which, invisibly to the
users, translate their requests into the electronic logic which the processor will obey. Other parts of the same programs turn the computer's results back into human-readable form; often this includes attractive 45 charts and graphs as well as words. Already this has reached the point where 'fourth-generation languages'are common. The
13 what does these refer to? majn feature of these13 is that a user no
14 say = for example longer needs to, say,14 work out how to 50
15 In this context merely means." , , , , . , « .r
a first search a large database; he merely specifies
bon|y the layout of the database, and the kind of
display it should produce, and the database
16 The rest = everything else management systemdoes the rest.16 Other
fourth-generation packages are available for 55 designing spreadsheets (used for business planning and forecasting), producing viewdatascreens, and many other
17 what does these refer to ? applications. The main feature of these " is
their ability to produce 'user-friendly' 60
Some new kinds of input and output devices are appearing. Much new software uses a mousefor input; voice synthesisers ('talking computers') are appearing, and spreading to 65 new fields, such as microprocessors in cars and other machinery.
18 Give a synonym for ultimate. The ultimate18 objective of much
contemporary research is artificial intelligence- machines which communicate 70 with us in a natural language such as English, and which can devise their own methods of solving problems, instead of needing detailed programming. Already many experimental
19 what do you think tackle means? computers can tackle19 problems as 75
complicated as a game of chess, or recognising an unfamiliar object from a
20 what does it refer to? description of it.20
The long-term outcome of all these developments is that there will not be a need so for specialised programmers, except for the comparatively small number engaged on systems design. Almost anyone will be able
21 a tailor makes clothes to fit exactly. t0produce software tailored21 to their own
So what does tailored to mean? r . _ . . ,
requirements. Even in large companies, the 85
majority of office workers and sales staff will
use local networks, only communicating with much larger mainframe networks when necessary.
Networkingis gaining in popularity, and is likely to become even more important. This is rather different from simply connecting many keyboards to one mainframe. In a network, each terminal is a computer in its
22 in its own right = by itself own right,22 sometimes with as much
memory as older mainframes. Several computers may share expensive resources, such as hard disks and printers, and they may also be connected via telecommunication links to other local networks. These links may be over very long distances, using
23 How do network terminals differ satellites as well as telephone lines.2iThus24
from main frames with numerous . . c. .
keyboards? the members or an organisation can all have
24 Thus = in this way computing power where they need it, on Whlchway? their desks, with the ability to share common
databases, and send each other messages and reports rapidly via electronic mail; they may no longer need a separate and specialised computer department. Some of the microcomputers now used can do multitasking;for example, a manager might use a word processor to write a report, a graphics
25 what do you think splice means in pr0gram to produce diagrams, splice25 the
this context? f o t- o j r
two together, and produce high-quality printout, all on one small computer. The latest microcomputers, with laser printers, provide the chance to produce high-quality finished documents, illustrated, without needing the services of an artist, and without much specialised training; this is known as desk-top publishing.
The growth of the computer will affect our lives in many ways, apart from business. We may see a life-style based on the electronic
26 a cottage is a small house in the cottage.26 People (both men and women)
country. Why does the writer use ° : , ..
this word? may stop commuting long distances to
27 instead of what? offices, and work at home instead,27 using
microcomputers to write reports, articles and books, sending them via telecommunication links to central computers when finished, and sending messages via electronic mail. This will lead to a change in life-style, because the
work can be done whenever it suits, not just in 'office hours'. Many people will live in smaller, more rural communities, as they will 135 no longer need to live in suburbs close to their work. Most households will have access to viewdata systems, so that they can order the shopping, carry out financial transactions, and plan holidays, from the uo
comfort of their homes.
In education, too, the computer will bring
28 Give a synonym for profound. profound28 change. Computer databases can
store far more information than one teacher could possibly know, so most learning will 145 take place via computer terminals, and schools will be able to concentrate more on social skills and personal development.
29 Nature = qualities and The nature29 of work is changing because of
the revolution brought about by computers. 150 Factories will be staffed partly by robots;
30 Those means people or robots? those30 who work in them will be concerned
with operating, programming and supervising the robots, not doing menial and repetitive production-line tasks. The 155
flexibility of computers means that machines can make articles tailored to what people want or need; it will not be so necessary to produce millions of identical products in
31 Give two instances of the changing order tO justify the COSt of the tools.31 More160 nature of work. . .,,,.,, i . i r
goods will be available than ever before, although fewer people will be needed to
32 in this context provided means produce them. Provided32 a means is found b supposing that of sharing wealth thus created equally, the
c on condition that vast majority of the population will have 165