Computer Jargon Explained by Nicholas Enticknap

By Nicholas Enticknap

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The same public networks are used for both types of traffic, and some of the supporting products - exchanges and multifunction workstations - have begun to appear. In most organisations still, however, voice and data networks are run separately and are totally unconnected. It is desirable to integrate them - this would avoid duplication of products and of cabling as well as reducing administrative overheads. These potential advantages are the motivating force behind the development of ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network).

The project started in 1947, and the result, Leo I, produced its first live results in 1954. Leo I was the first system we would today class as a mainframe. Lyons' vision was soon shared by others, and the production of computers for sale began in the early fifties. The vast majority of computer sales were (and are to this day) for data processing applications, with scientific sales remaining a smallvolume activity. Leo I and its contemporaries were simply called "computers": the term "mainframe" did not come into general use till the 62 1960s.

The importance of non-procedural languages is that they allow systems to be built much more easily and reliably. Ease of use is another key characteristic of the fifth generation, and much effort is being devoted to the design of appropriate user interfaces. As well as better performance and greater ease of use, the fifth generation will naturally incorporate all predicted advances in technology. One consequence of this is that they will have memories several orders of magnitude larger than today's computers, a key requirement for natural language processing.

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