9. Computers in business

Questions for Discussion

  • 1. What is a computer?
  • 2. What are the major types of computers?
  • 3. What are their main functions?
  • 4. How many generations of computers do you know?
  • 5. Why are computer scientists continuing working on their perfection?
  • 6. What spheres of life are computers indispensable in?
  • 7. What spheres of life is the use of computers problematic in?
  • 8. How is computer used in business?
  • 9. What kind of computer software has been invented recently? Are these programs worthwhile?
  • 10. What are the disadvantages of computers?
  • 11. How harmful do you think computer dependency is?
  • 12. In what new function(s) do you think the computer will be used in the future?

Target Vocabulary

computer literacy


computer obsession


artificial intelligence

Internet addiction disorder

reflective listening


system programs

free of charge


to have an inkling of

word processing package

to store programs on servers

spreadsheet program

to incorporate technology

database program




Vocabulary Practice

Exercise 1. Use your target vocabulary to replace these explanations.


the ability of the computer to make sympathetic responses


a network the user cannot enter without authorization


a skillful use of computers


a programme designed to do a particular job on a computer, a piece of software


the state in which a person’s mind is completely filled with thoughts of computer in a way that is not normal


a flat surface which contains all the controls and switches for a machine

Exercise 2. Complete these sentences using your target vocabulary in the appropriate form.

  • 1. A device for connecting pieces of electrical equipment that were not designed to fit together is called an.........
  • 2. To operate a computer companies need to buy.........
  • 3. The ability of computers to copy intelligent human behaviour, called.......is the quality

computer scientists are looking for.

  • 4. The hotel personnel stores TV programmes on.......to play them on demand.
  • 5. The first.......he had that something was wrong was when he saw a dark screen.
  • 6. Computer.......is one of the prerequisites of the successful work in a company.

Tips for Topic Development

Text 1

Computers have become part and parcel of everyday life. No wonder today’s schoolchildren carry around calculating power which would have filled a large room forty years ago. Computer scientists are now working on the next generation of computers; ones which will have true intelligence. The first step on the way is development of ‘expert systems’ which are partially intelligent.

For example, researchers at Stanford University have developed a computer for medical diagnosis. It stores 125 facts about each of 600 diseases. It can tell doctors which questions to ask, and which measurements to take. What is more, it can make an accurate diagnosis.

Scientists from University of California have invented computers which can write stories, while IBM has developed the Epistle program for business letters which can correct spelling, improve grammar and style and even check for mistakes by giving a list of words with similar sounds.

One of the most interesting programs, developed recently at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is a kind of computer psychiatrist. There is another program called Eliza

that is worth mentioning. It was developed by Professor Joseph Weizenbaum. It uses a technique known as ‘reflective listening’. The computer seems to understand, and to make sympathetic responses. In fact it does not understand a word that is being typed into it.

Agree or disagree with these statements.

  • 1. A computer can replace doctors in clinics and do their jobs more efficiently.
  • 2. Computers have many more capacities than we can imagine.
  • 3. The stories that computers write can’t compete with those written by people.
  • 4. A computer can correct the spelling of business letters but can’t correct grammar and style.
  • 5. Many people would prefer to visit a computer psychiatrist.
  • 6. A ‘reflective listening’ technique can be effectively used to handle conflicts in business.

Text 2

Your new AMSTRAD PC is a powerful microcomputer. You probably already have a rough idea what you are going to use it for, but now it is time to look at what your PC can do in a little more detail. It might be that it can do more than you originally thought.

If you plan to use your PC at the office, you might use it to:

  • • prepare letters and reports
  • • keep accounts and prepare invoices
  • • keep information ‘at your fingertips’
  • • help you to carry out routine tasks.

If you plan to use your PC at home, you might use it to:

  • • prepare letters
  • • keep your address book and phone list up to date
  • • computerize your home accounts
  • • write and develop your own programs
  • • play computers games

The AMSTRAD PC is supplied with ‘system’ programs. If you want to use ‘applications’ programs you can either buy them from your computer dealer or write for yourself.

If you want to prepare reports and letters, you can use a word processing package.

To help you with your accounts, you may need a spreadsheet program.

To ensure that you have information ‘at your fingertips’, you may use a database program.

  • (from the Amstrad PC User’s Guide) Say which of the statements below are true and which are false.
  • 1. Amstrad PC can be used at the office to give a quick access to the information a businessman needs.
  • 2. Amstrad PC can store recipes of your favourite dishes.
  • 3. The computer is not supplied with applications programmes.
  • 4. If you want to prepare reports and letters you have to use a system programme.
  • 5. To help you with accounts, you may need a word-processing package.
  • 6. To ensure that you have the complete information for accounting needs you may use a database programme.
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