Saturday, March 23, 2013




A computer application is any particular use made of a computer.

A large part of the Scottish Standard and the GCSE Computer Studies syllabuses and examinations are devoted to applications. All of the GCSE syllabuses contain Assessment Objective D of the National Criteria for GCSE Computer Studies. This says that a candidate for GCSE should be able to: 'demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the range and scope of computer applications'.

It is hoped that you will have already gained this knowledge and understanding by activities during your course. You may have:

1 Been able to go into business or industry and see computers being applied.

2 Watched some of the videos which are available and which give a clear picture of various computer applications.

3 Used some of the software which is available for most school computers to allow you to simulate actual applications.

There follows a list of computing activities to simulate actual applications. Look through the list and try any which you have not already done. Your teacher will help you find out what programs and equipment you can use.

If you have not already done all of your coursework, one of these activities might be turned into a project you can submit.


1 Run programs to simulate commercial applications such as:

(a) An airline booking system, or

(b) A stock control program.

2 Run programs to simulate any other situation-you may have a program to simulate running the country or perhaps driving a car.

3 Try a file enquiry package-retrieve information from a file. There is probably a sample file supplied with the package. If you have time create a file yourself (see the example project ).

4 Run a spreadsheet program-(see the example project ).

5 See and, if possible, use CEEFAX or ORACLE on a television set which has been adapted for teletext.

6 See a microcomputer being used with a modem as a terminal for a viewdata system such as Prestel or The Times Network for Schools. You should look particularly at electronic mail and access to databases.

7 Use a wordprocessor-there should be computers in your school which can be used for wordprocessing.

8 Run a computer-aided design (CAD) package. There is a temptation to doodle with this type of package. Find or sketch a definite design or drawing and then try to produce it an. the screen.

9 See if you can get a computer to input data from an external measuring device. Some schools have interfaces which can be connected to a computer-often in one of the science departments. These can be connected up to a digital thermometer for instance but you need the right software as well as hardware. Other schools have little robots with light sensitive devices. In any case you will need a teacher's help with this.

10 Control an external device with a computer-the robot mentioned above would do. Failing this you might be able to obtain software which simulates controlling a device such as a crane, for instance.

The applications corresponding to these activities are explained (spreadsheet and file enquiry) . The applications described follow fairly closely the lists given in most of the GCSE syllabuses.

It is important to understand the general principles of a given application and not concentrate on the particular equipment used. The work should help you to understand these better.


Computers were first used commercially in the 1950s. The computers were expensive and were used by large companies to carry out routine tasks such as:

1 Stock control-checking and reordering goods.

2 Payroll-calculating the employees' pay each week or each month.

3 Customer accounts-checking on the money paid by customers and sending out. statements, bills and reminders.

Now that computers and software are much cheaper, more firms are able to use computers for this kind of application. It still accounts for a large proportion of the use of computers today. Stock control and payroll are dealt with in this topic .

In the 1960s computers were put to a wider range of commercial uses. One of the first was the airline booking system, introduced in America in 1962. This is dealt .

Characteristics of commercial applications

Commercial applications generally:

1 Deal with very large amounts of data.

2 Use the same program in the same way on similar data on a regular basis.

3 Involve very simple operations-mostly input, output. and file operations; any arithmetic involved is very uncomplicated.

When studying a commercial application you should be clear about:

1 The general background.

(a) The situation in which the computer is used (e.g. to understand how an airline booking system works you have to understand something about the airline itself).

(b) The problem which the computer helps to solve.

2 The overall system. The general way in which the system operates, including the work carried out by the people involved. What. does the computer do?

3 The collection and input of data. Also the checking of data-verification and validation.

4 The files used. Most commercial applications involve the use of large data files.

5 The role of the computer. The kind of operating system used and the operations carried out by the computer.

6 Computer output.