electricity. All data and instructions are represented
(written) in a binary form. This is the ONLY form the
computer is able to understand. Each computer has its
own machine language; therefore, a program written for
one computer type cannot be transferred to another type
of computer system.
Writing programs in machine
language code is time-consuming and requires the
programmer to specify each operation code and the
specific location for each piece of data and each
We use assembly languages to avoid having to code
directly into machine code (0s and 1s). Assembly
languages use symbolic codes called mnemonics to
represent operations. For example, the letter A could be
used for add, and the letters ST could be used for store.
Although assembly languages are more user-oriented
than machine languages, they are still quite complex to
work with as a programmer. Assembly languages are
generally used by systems programmers to design and
maintain operating systems and other systems software
where speed of operation and conserving storage are
more important than programmer time.
A whole host of high-level programming languages
have been developed to solve one particular class of
problems or another. High-level languages were
developed to allow you, as a programmer, to work in a
language that is close to English or mathematical
notation, thus improving overall efficiency and
simplifying the communications process between you
and the computer. These high-level languages allow us
to be more concerned with the problems to be solved
rather than with the details of computer operation.
Examples of high-level languages include COBOL,
FORTRAN, BASIC, Pascal, Ada, and C++.
COBOL. COBOL was developed for business
applications. It uses everyday English-like statements
and is good for handling large data files. COBOL is the
acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language.
FORTRAN. FORTRAN was developed for
mathematical and scientific work.
It is used by
engineers, scientists, statisticians, and others in areas
where mathematical operations are most important.
FORTRAN is the acronym for FORmula TRANslator.
BASIC. BASIC was designed as a teaching
language to help beginning programmers write
Therefore, it is a general-purpose,
introductory language that is fairly easy to learn and to
use. With the increase in the use of microcomputers,
BASIC has regained popularity and is available on most
BASIC is the acronym for
Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.
PASCAL. Pascal is a language designed to teach
programming. It is fairly easy to learn; yet it is a more
powerful language than BASIC. Although Pascal is not
yet a standardized language, it is still used rather
extensively on microcomputers. It has greater
programming capabilities on small computers than are
possible with BASIC. It is used by many colleges and
It is named after Blaise Pascal, a
mathematician and the inventor of the first mechanical
ADA. Ada is a modern, general-purpose
language designed with the professional programmer in
mind. It has many unique features to aid in the
implementation of large-scale applications and real-
time systems. Its development was initiated by the U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD). It is named to honor the
achievements of Ada Augusta Byron, Countess of
Lovelace, who was a supporter of and collaborator with
Charles Babbage, the first person to propose the concept
of the modern computer. She suggested using the
binary system of storage instead of the decimal system
and developed the concept of a loop to execute
repetitive instructions. Babbage is known as the father
of the computer, and Ada Lovelace is considered the
C++. C++ is a general-purpose language that
works well with microcomputers. It is useful for
writing both operating systems and database programs.
The programs are portable, which allows them to be run
without change on a variety of computers.
INSTALLING THE SOFTWARE
Depending on the needs of the users, the software
will vary from command to command. But one thing is
for sure, your system will have a disk operating system
to make the whole thing work. Beyond that, you may
have users who run only wordprocessing, or only
database management applications. Maybe they use
graphics and do desktop publishing. Maybe all their
applications are accounting, and they rely primarily on
spreadsheet programs and specialized accounting type
programs. Some may even be writing their own
programs in languages such as PASCAL, BASIC, or
COBOL. It may be your job to help users install, learn,