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Fourth-generation language

Language used for writing programs, which relies on specifying the nature and structure of the data to be processed, not detailed instructions on how it is to be manipulated. Sometimes called program generator, 4GL,or application generator.

FrameA vertical pattern on the

magnetic tape. It consists of eight bits of data plus one bit for error detection. (Unit 14)


General-purpose computerA

computer which can be programmed to solve various types of problems. It is also called all-purpose computer. (Unit 4) GraphicsLine drawings which are used to illustrate a point or tell a story. (Unit 17)


Hard-copy terminalA terminal which outputs information on paper. (Unit 17)

Hard diskDisks which are made from a hard material and are of two kinds: moving-head and fixed-head. (Unit 15)

HardwareThe physical, electronic and electromechanical devices which constitute the computer. (Unit 3, 5)

Hexadecimal systemA number system which is based on 16 digits, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E, F. (Unit 19)

High-level languageA language in which each instruction represents several machine code instructions. It uses notation which is readable by a programmer. Examples are Cobol and Basic. (Unit 21)

HubThe hole or socket in control panel through which electrical impulses may be emitted or into which impulses may be sent. (Unit 15)

Hybrid computerA scientific computer system which incorporates

characteristics of the digital and analog computers. (Unit 16)


Impact printerA printer which is based

on the method of striking characters

through a carbon like a typewriter.

Examples are the drum, chain, daisy

wheel, matrix and line printers. (Unit

16) Ink jet printerA non-impact printer

which operates by projecting small ink

droplets and deflecting them

electrostatically. (Unit 16) InputThe information which is

presented to the computer. (Unit 3) Input deviceMachines by which

information is sent to the computer,

e.g. a card reader. (Unit 5) InstructionA part of a computer

program which tells the computer what

to do at that stage. (Unit 1) InteractiveAlso conversational; to

be able to communicate with the

computer on a question and answer

basis. (Unit 7) Inter Block Gap (IBG)Special

characters used on a tape to separate

one block of information from another.

(Unit 14) Internal memorySame as primary

memory. (Units 9, 11) Internal storageSame as internal

memory, main storage or primary

memory. (Unit 11) Inter Record Gap (IRG)Special

characters used on a tape to separate

one record of information from another

(Unit 14) Interrupt featureWhen a program is

interrupted upon receiving a signal

indicating that any one of a number of

external events has occurred. (Unit 7)


Job Control Language (JCL)A

language associated with an operating system. It is used to write the instructions to control a job in a specific system. (Unit 21)


K 1024 bytes. (Unit 11)

Key to diskA data entry system in which the data entered by a number of keyboard operators is accumulated on a magnetic disk.

KeyboardA device like a typewriter with keys representing different characters. The depression of the keys cause a hole to be punched in a card or a signal to be transmitted to the computer. (Unit 3)

KeypunchA machine with a keyboard used for punching data on cards. (Unit 13)

Keypunch operatorA person who operates a keypunch in order to transfer the instructions in a program onto cards. (Units 13, 23)


Laser writerA non-impact printer in which the paper is charged electrostatically and attracts dry ink powder as in a Xereox machine. The pattern is then baked on the paper. (Unit 16)

LimitationsThe things a person or a machine cannot do. (Unit 4)

Line printerAn impact printer having the character set to be printed on a cylinder, each segment of which has the full set of characters in raised form around the edges. (Unit 16)

Linkage editorA systems program which fetches required systems routines and links them to the object module (the source program in machine code). (Unit 21)

Load moduleThe program which is directly executable by the computer. (Unit 21)

Logarithmic tablesTables which show the exponent of the power to which a fixed number must be raised to produce a given number. (Unit 2)

Logical unitSame as arithmetic-logical unit; it is responsible for carrying out logical-operations on data. (Units 9, 10)

Low-level languagesA language such as the assembly language in which each instruction has one corresponding instruction in machine code. (Unit 21)


Machine codeMachine language. (Unit

21) Magnetic tapeA strip of plastic usually half an inch wide, coated on one side with metal oxide that can be magnetized. It stores information sequentially. (Units 1, 11,14)

Magnetic tape cartridgeA memory storage device used with minicomputers. (Unit 7)

MainframeA large computer system which is found in large installations processing immense amounts of data. (Unit 6)

Main storageSame as primary memory.

Matrix printerAn impact printer which uses pins to print a pattern of dots on paper. The characters are generated by selecting the appropriate combination of pins. (Unit 16)

MediumThe means by which

something is done. Examples of input media are punched cards, magnetic tapes and disks. (Unit 1)

MemoryThe internal storage locations of a computer. It is also called real storage or primary memory. (Units 1,11)

Memory boardSame as circuit board. (Unit 8)

Memory unitRefers to the backing store media such as magnetic tape or magnetic disk.

MicroSame as microcomputer. (Unit 8)

MicrocomputerA microcomputer which is based upon an integrated circuit microprocessor; also called computer-on-a-chip. (Unit 8)

MicrominiaturizationTo make things on a very small scale. (Unit 2)

MicroprocessorThe central processing unit of a microcomputer. It is built as a single semiconductor device (Units 7,8)

MiniSame as minicomputer. (Unit 7)

MinicomputerA computer whose mainframe is physically small, has a fixed word length between 8 and 32 bits and costs less than $100,000 for the central processor. (Unit 7)

MiniperipheralPeripherals specially developed for minicomputers, e.g. magnetic tape cartridges and cassettes. (Unit 7)

MonochromaticShades of one colour only. (Unit 17)

MouseSmall hand-held input device, often used with microcomputers, which is moved round a table, causing a corresponding marker to move round a VDU screen; pressing a button causes certain actions, depending on where the marker is on the screen.

Moving-head diskHard disks which can be divided into either cartridge or pack. (Unit 15)

MultiplexingIn the field of fibre optics, to combine a number of signals and carry them on one optical link.

MultiprogrammingA time sharing technique which allows more than one user to share the resources of the computer. It is when more than one program can be present at different storage locations of the memory at the same time. (Unit 22)

Multi-taskingComputer carrying out several tasks at the same time, with an operating system which allows communication between two or more programs running simultaneously in the same processor.


NetworkSeveral computers each working independently, but connected together in order to share resources such as disks and printers.

Non-impact printerA printer which is based on the method of photocopying like an office copier. Examples are thermal, electrosensitive, ink jet printers and laser writers. (Unit 18)


Object programThe program produced after the source program has been converted into machine code. Also called object module. (Unit 21)

Octal systemA number system which is based on 8 digits, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. (Unit 19)

OffWhen no electric current passes through. (Unit 19)

Off-lineWhen any part of a computer system operates independently of the central processing unit, it is said to be off-line. (Unit 13)

OnWhen an electric current passes through. (Unit 19)

On-lineWhen any part of a computer system is hooked up to and controlled by the central processing unit, it is said to be on-line. (Unit 13)

Operating systemsA systems program which controls the central processing unit, the input, the output and the secondary memory devices. (Unit 21)

OperatorThe person who is responsible for the manual control operations of the computer. He is mainly concerned with hardware. (Unit 9)

OutputThe results of performing arithmetic and logical operations on data. It is transmitted by the computer to a physical medium such as cards, tapes or disks. (Unit 3)

Output devicesMachines by which information is received from the computer, e.g. a disk drive. (Unit 5)


PackA hard disk which is made up of a number of platters. (Unit 15)

PackageA generalized program which is written for a particular application such as an inventory package. (Unit 21)

Parallelogramo It is one of the symbols on a template used in flowcharting to indicate the input or output. (Unit 20)

Party bitThe ninth bit of a frame on a magnetic tape. It is used for error detection. (Unit 14)

PascalA high-level programming language which was developed in 1971 and named after Blaise Pascal. (Unit 21)

PeripheralsDevices which are used with the computer. They can be on-line or off-line, and are used for input and output purposes. (Units 3, 5)

PlatterA circular disk which is the same size as a long-playing phonograph record, and which can be magnetized on both sides. (Unit 15)

PL/1A high-level programming

language used for both scientific and commercial applications. An acronym for Programming Language 1. (Unit 21)

PlotterA pen-like device which draws graphs on paper for visual display of information. (Unit 17)

Primary memoryThe internal storage locations of a computer; also referred to as main memory or real storage. (Units 8, 11)

Primary storageSame as main storage. (Unit 7)

PrinterAn output device which changes the output data into printed form. (Units 3, 16)

PrintoutThe printed pages which are the output from a printer. (Unit 18)

PriorityA system used in

multiprogramming to determine the sequence in which programs are to be processed.

ProcessingIt is manipulating the information which is inputted to the computer by performing arithmetic or logical operations on it. (Unit 3)

ProcessorThe same as central processing unit. (Units 3, 5)

ProgramA list of instructions which are used by the computer to solve a problem. (Unit 1)

Program documentationDetailed instructions for the use and interpretation of a program. (Unit 20)

ProgrammerThe person who prepares the instructions for the computer. (Unit 4)

ProgrammingWriting programs for the computer. (Unit 6)

Punched cardA rectangular card with 12 rows and 80 columns which can be punched. It is used to input information into the computer or to receive the outputted result. (Units 1, 13)


Random accessWhen any part of the memory may be read or accessed equally quickly. (Unit 11)

Random access deviceA device such as a magnetic disk drive which allows random accessing of information. (Unit 11)

Real storageSame as internal storage or primary memory. (Unit 11)

Real timeWhen a user can interact with the computer by asking it to perform a desired task and have the task completed within a matter of seconds. (Unit 22)

Real time applicationApplications which require real time processing such as airline reservations. (Unit 7)

Real time processingProcessing of data as soon as they are generated and using these data to update the relevant files. The opposite is batch processing. (Unit 7)

RecordA group of names which

represent a unit of information such as a transaction. (Unit 14)

Recording headsThe read and write heads of drives which access information from tapes or disks (Unit 15)

Rectangle□ It is one of the symbols in a template used in flowcharting to stand for a processing action. (Unit 20)

ReelA spool in the tape drive upon which a magnetic tape is mounted. (Unit 14)

RegisterA component of the control unit; it temporarily holds the instruction read from memory while it is being executed. (Unit 10)

RobotA manlike machine which is manufactured to do the manual, routine and mechanical work for people. (Unit 18)


ScreenThe part of a visual display unit on which the program, data, and graphics can be seen. (Unit 1)

SchemaThe complete description of the logical structure of the data. (Unit 23)

Secondary memoryStorage space which is outside the main memory of the computer. It can be either sequential (tapes) or random-access (disks). (Units 3, 1)

SemiconductorA material which is neither a good nor a bad conductor of electricity. Its conductivity increases at high temperatures. Transistors are made up of semiconductor material. (Units 8, 12)

Semiconductor memoryAlso referred to as chip, consists of thousands of integrated circuits etched onto a tiny piece of silicon with semi-conductor characteristics. It is used mostly in microcomputers. (Unit 12)

Sequential deviceA device such as the magnetic tape drive which permits information to be written onto or read off some storage medium in a fixed sequence only. (Unit 11)

Sets of dataOrganized groups of data. (Unit 22)

Shared-logicA computer system where the CPU controls the printers and screens which are not very intelligent on their own.

Shared resourceWhen various stand-alones are linked to one resource such as a big disk drive. They are capable of resuming operations even if the main source fails.

Single purposeUsed for only one purpose. (Unit 3)

Slide ruleAn instrument used for calulations. Numbers are represented by lengths on a ruler and arithmetic operations are performed on them by sliding another part of the ruler. (Unit 2)

SoftwareThe programs that control and coordinate the activities of the computer hardware and that direct the processing of the data. (Unit 5)

Software packagesA set of programs designed to perform certain applications which conform to internationally accepted rules. An example is payroll packages. (Unit 21)

Source programA program written in one of the high-level languages such as Fortran and Cobol. (Unit 21)

SpecificationsDetailed description of solutions to problems which are given by the analyst to the programmer to be translated into a program. (Unit 23)

SpoolingInformation is first punched on cards, then transferred to tape or disk before it is transmitted to the computer. (Unit 3)

Stand-aloneA self-contained computer unit with its CPU and storage.

Storage deviceA device on which information can be stored. (Unit 3)

Sub-schemaThe description of the parts of a schema (the logical structure of the data). (Unit 23)

Systems analystThe person who analyses problems, outlines solutions to them, and then delegates them to programmers to code. (Unit 23)

Systems programA program written for the computer system. Examples are compilers, operating systems, and linkage editors. They are usually provided by the manufacturer. (Unit 21)

Systems programmerA programmer who writes programs that control the computer system such as assemblers, executives and utility programs. (Unit 23)

System softwareThe programs which direct the computer to perform tasks and control its operations. (Unit 5)


TapeSee magnetic tape. (Units 1, 11, 14)

Tape driveA device on which a

magnetic tape is mounted in order that information may be transmitted from the tape to the memory of the computer or vice versa. (Units 1,14)

Tape markA special character which is used to separate one file of data from another. (Unit 14)

TemplateA sheet of plastic with all the flowcharting symbols cut into it. (Unit 20)

TerminalA device at which data is inputted to the computer or results outputted onto a screen or paper. (Units 1,17)

Terminal symbol<=> The first and last symbol of a flowchart. It indicates the beginning or the end of a program. (Unit 20)

Thermal printerA non-impact printer which uses a special chemically treated paper on which the characters are exposed by such means as a laser. (Unit 16)

Time sharingTo allow a number of users to share the sources of the computer concurrently. (Unit 22)

TrackThe channels of a magnetic tape on which information is recorded by tape drives. (Unit 14). Also the concentric circle of a disk, which are similar to the grooves in a record, and on which information is stored. (Unit 15) TrainSame as chain. (Unit 16) TraineeA person with little or no work experience in the computer field who joins a data processing department and is supervised and guided by an experienced programmer. (Unit 23) TransactionsAn event which requires the creation of a record, the updating of a file or its processing. Transfer speedThe number of bytes per second a tape drive is capable of transferring from the tape to the memory of a computer and vice versa. (Unit 14) Transfer rateSame as transfer speed.

(Unit 14) TransistorA small semiconductor which operates as an amplifier. (Unit 2)

Turnkey systemsThey are systems software and applications software products. (Unit 5)


UserAn individual or a group making use of the output of the computer. (Unit 21)

Utility routineA systems program which performs operations on files: it recognizes files, transfers them from one medium of storage to another, etc. It is not concerned with the specific contents of the files. (Unit 23)


Vacuum tubesA closed glass electron tube with no air in it, used for controlling a flow of electricity as in radio or T.V. (Unit 2)

ViewdataInformation retrieval system which uses telephone lines to connect users to a computer database, using a television set as a terminal.

Virtual storageWhen disks are hooked up to the computer and used as an extension of internal storage in order to increase the capacity of primary memory. (Unit 11)

Visual display unitSame as cathode ray tube terminal. (Unit 1)


Word processingThe use of a computerized typewriter to automate some of the secretarial tasks such as formatting and typing letters.


Zone punchThe top three rows on a

card are called the zone punch rows.

(Unit 13)

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