APPLICATIONS OF COMPUTERS The dawn of the new age - The Computer Era - glows before us with the promise of new and improved ways of thinking, living and working. The amount of information in the world is said to be doubling every six to seven years. The only way to keep up with these increased amounts of data and information is to understand how computers work and the ability to control them for a particular purpose. A computer can be defined as an electronic data processing device, capable of accepting data, applying a prescribed set of instructions to the data, and displaying in some manner or form. Any configuration of the devices that are interconnected and are programmed to operate as a computer system. The computer is said to have literally revolutionise d the way one person does his job or a whole multinational organisation operates their businesses.

Together with this reason and many more, computers are considered more than just an essential piece of fancy equipment. Whether or not people know anything about it, they invoke computers in every day lives when they make a bank withdrawal, buy groceries at the supermarket and even when they drive a car. Today, millions of people are purchasing fully functional personal computers for individual reasons. In their homes, people use various forms of computer technology for writing memos, for keeping track of bank accounts, for communication with friends and associates, for accessing knowledge, for purchasing goods and many other countless tasks.

It is a binding fact that are computers are very productive, efficient and make our personal and professional lives more rewarding. These 'magical' machines can do just about anything imaginable, moreover they really excel in certain areas. Below is the list of some of the principal applications of the computer systems: q Businesses. Businessmen make bar graphs and pie charts from tedious figures to convey information with far more impact than numbers alone can covey. Furthermore, computers help businesses to predict their future sales, profits, costs etc. making companies more accurate in their accounts.

Computers may also play a vital role in aiding thousands of organistaions to make judgmental and hard-provoking decisions concerning financial problems and prospective trends. q Buildings. Architects use computer animated graphics to experiment with possible exteriors and to give clients a visual walk-through of their proposed buildings. The computers provide architects a numerous amount of facilities to create different buildings with greater accuracy, better designing and editing tools, and work done at the fastest speed possible. Finally, a new kind of artist has emerged, one who uses computers to express his or her creativity. q Education.

Most good schools in the world have computers available for use in the classroom. It has been proved that learning with computers has been more successful and this is why numerous forms of new teaching methods have been introduced. This enhances the knowledge of the student at a much faster pace than the old traditional methods. Likewise, colleges and various universities have extended the use of computers as many educators prefer the 'learning by doing' method - an approach uniquely suited to the computer. q Retailing. Products from meats to magazines are packed with zebra-striped bar codes that can be read by the computer scanners at supermarket checkout stands to determine prices and help manage inventory.

Thus, a detailed receipt of the groceries can be made, which is useful for both the customer and the retail store, especially for the stock control system. This is referred as POS (Point of Sale) transaction where a precise account of all the stocks available is recorded and manipulated. q Energy. Energy companies use computers to locate oil, coal, natural gas and uranium. With the use of these technological machines, these companies can figure out the site of a natural resource, its concentration and other related figures. Electric companies use computers to monitor vast power networks.

In addition, meter readers use hand held computers to record how much energy is used each month in homes and offices. q Law Enforcement. Recent innovation in computerised law enforcement include national fingerprint files, a national file on the mode of operation of serial killers, and computer modeling of DNA, which can be used to match traces from an alleged criminal's body, such as blood at a crime scene. In addition, computers also contain a complete databases of all the names, pictures and information of such people who choose to break the law. q Transportation.

Computers are used in cars to monitor fluid levels, temperatures and electrical systems. Computers are also used to help run rapid transit systems, load container ships and track railroads cars across the country. An important part is the air control traffic systems, where computers are used to control the flow of traffic between airplanes which needs a lot of precision and accuracy to be dealt with. q Money. Computers speed up record keeping and allow banks to offer same-day services and even do-it yourself banking over the phone and internet. Computers have helped fuel the cashless economy, enabling the widespread use of credit cards, debit cards and instantaneous credit checks by banks and retailers.

There is also a level of greater security when computers are involved in money transactions as there is a better chance of detecting forged cheques and using credit / debit cards illegally etc. q Agriculture. Farmers use small computers to help with billing, crop information, and cost per acre, feed combinations, and market price checks. Cattle ranchers can also use computers for information about livestock breeding and performance. q Government. Among other tasks, the federal government uses computers to forecast the weather, to manage parks and historical sites, to process immigrants, to produce social security checks and to collect taxes.

The most important use of the computer system in this field is perhaps the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. The computers have to be very powerful and in order to be run they have to be very accurate and precise. E. g. in the use of missiles and other likes, every nanosecond counts, which may save trillions of lives on this planet. The government also uses computers in various simulations like the spread of influenza in a particular locality.

q The Home. People having a computer in the home justifies the fact that it is not only useful and efficient, but it is also revered as a learning system. Personal computers are being used for in numerous tasks nowadays, for example, to keep records, write letters and memos, prepare budgets, produce presentations, draw pictures, publish newsletters and most importantly - connect with other in the rest of plant earth. q Health and Medicine. Computers are helping immensely to monitor thee extremely ill in the intensive care unit and provide cross-sectional views of the body.

This eliminates the need for hired nurses to watch the patient twenty-four hours a day, which is greatly tiring and error prone. Doctors use computers to assist them in diagnosing certain diseases of the sort. This type of computer is called the Expert System, which is basically a collection of accumulated expertise in a specific area of field. Computers are now able to map, in exquisite detail, the structure of the human cold virus - the first step towards the common cold.

Furthermore, computers are used greatly in managing patients, doctors, wards and medicine records, as well as deal with making appointments, scheduling surgeries and other likes. q Manufacturing Industries. Computers have made their way towards jobs that were unpleasant or too dangerous for humans to do, such as working hundreds of feet below the earth or opening a package that might contain an explosive device. In other industries, computers are used to control the production of resources very precisely.

All robots and machinery are now controlled by various computers, making the production process faster and cheaper. All the stages of manufacturing, from designing to production, can be done with the use of computer technology with greater diversity. q The Human connection. The computers have evolved in such prosperity that it is now able to assist or aid with humans who are disabled - both physically and mentally. The handicapped are now able to express their missing sense with the aid of computer technology. For example, a deaf and dumb person is able to communicate extensively with other people by using a specially designed computer system.

This gives the disabled a chance to live out life and gradually catch up with the other fortunate people living on earth. q Scientific Research. This is very important for mankind and with the development of computers; scientific research has propelled towards the better a great deal. Because of high-speed characteristics of computer systems, researchers can simulate environments, emulate physical characteristics and allow scientists to proof of their theories in a cost-effective manner.

Also many test lab animals are spared since computers have taken over their roles in extensive research. q Communication with the World. The computes are most popular for their uses to connect with others on the World Wide Web. Therefore, communication between two or more parties is possible which is relatively cheap considering the old fashioned methods.

Emailing, teleconferencing and the use of voice messages are very fast, effective and surprisingly cheaper as well. When connected to the Internet, people can gain various amounts of knowledge, and know about world events as they occur. Purchasing on the Internet is also becoming very popular, and has numerous advantages over the traditional shopping methods. q Training.

It is much more cheaper and effective to teach pilots how to fly in a computerised cockpit or simulators, than is real airplanes. This is because the learning pilots will feel much more relaxed and confident due to the fact that no life is at risk at that moment. Railway engineers can also be given some kind of training on how to run a train with the help of a computerised system. Training simulations are relatively cheaper and are always available on one-to-one basis making way for personal training.

q Paperwork. Computer systems will increasingly cut down the paperwork that is involved in millions of industries around the world. If a business is run on a manual system, then the amount of papers or registers involved is a great deal, making the administration process more tedious and error prone. If it is replaced by a computer system, then all the necessary data and information is transferred into the memory of the computer.

This makes managing various tasks easier, faster and more effective than the manual system. Organisations that involve administrative tasks such as a hotel, school, hospitals, clubs, libraries etc. will become more efficient if a computer system is implemented. q Real Time systems.

Many computers provide an environment, which is completely based on real time. This means processing of one entity is done so quickly and effectively, that another entity is not effected. For example Airline systems and Banking systems will come under this category. These systems are immensely huge because they interact with all other airlines or baking systems in the world. A computer system, therefore, becomes more than just necessary in daily uses. There are so many applications of computers, that it is impractical to mention all of them.

This is the Computer Age and these machines are beginning to affect out lives in many ways. Computers are now becoming faster, more reliable, effective and whole lot cheaper than they had been ever before. Computers are all around us and avoiding them is virtually impossible. We have been exposed in the world of computer hype, computer advertisements and computer headlines. We interact with computers in our daily lives - whether we are at the cinemas, the school, or the public library. The beginnings of computer literacy are already apparent..