digital computer are almost as limitless as a person's imagination. New and better programs are being written everyday for easier and greater uses. Consider how many mathematicians it would take to put an astronaut in orbit around the moon, but it only takes one computer. Think back to the days without word processing when a document had to be retyped entirely when any changes were needed.">
USES OF A DIGITAL COMPUTER
In the modern computer world of today, the uses of the digital computer are almost as limitless as a person's imagination. New and better programs are being written everyday for easier and greater uses. Consider how many mathematicians it would take to put an astronaut in orbit around the moon, but it only takes one computer. Think back to the days without word processing when a document had to be retyped entirely when any changes were needed. Think back to the days of using an adding machine to prepare and revise budgets and accounting reports. Let's look at three of the primary uses of general-purpose digital computers in the Navy: word processing, accounting/recordkeeping, and work center uses.
One of the more widespread uses of the computer is word processing. The word processor can be considered a typewriter with a display screen. To the hundreds of thousands of word processor users, the computer is nothing more than a typewriter. Both have keyboards, and both have a mechanism for making the image of the character you strike on the keyboard appear on some type of visual medium. When using an electric typewriter, the process is strictly mechanical. When you press the key, it causes the type face to strike the paper, and in so doing, it leaves an impression. In the computer, the process is more indirect. A program stored in the computer's memory causes a visual representation to appear on a crt (cathode-ray tube) or at a printer. However, from the view point of the user, the result is the same, a printed document.
The great advantage of computers over typewriters is in correcting errors. In the past, correcting a document with a typewriter has meant typing it all over again. Since computers allow the movement of information from one part of memory to another, it is possible to make many changes on a document, and print the result. If the document is still not correct, only the changes need to be entered. The use of computers in this particular way came to be known as word processing.
A further breakthrough came with the development of word-processing application programs for microcomputers. These programs cost a fraction of their office machine counterparts, and could be run on general-purpose microcomputers. This was unique because general-purpose microcomputers could be used for functions such as spreadsheets, data base management systems, and programming in common computer languages.
The Navy saw the obvious uses to which microcomputers using the word processing programs could be put. Some of these are manuscript writing, memorandum writing, identification-card application filing, and recordkeeping.
ACCOUNTING AND RECORDKEEPING
There are virtually unlimited applications for the computer in today's modern business world, from basic accounting functions to controlling the manufacture of products, and of course, keeping records of these actions. Six standard systems dealing with accounting applications are widely accepted. These systems are (1) order entry; (2) inventory control; (3) accounts receivable; (4) accounts payable; (5) general ledger; and (6) payroll. (Figure 1-10 shows a simplified flowchart of payroll.) The area of recordkeeping has two requirements, legal and audit. The Navy has included similar functions in its Shipboard Non-Tactical ADP Program for work center use.
Figure 1-10. - Programming flowchart used to build a payroll program.
WORK CENTER USES (SNAP II)
Every Navy rating has the responsibility for some element of ship's maintenance. And for every rate, recordkeeping has been a "tough nut to turn," an administrative chore that goes along with the work to be done, but takes a "back burner" position to the physical maintenance of the ship and equipment. Today, aboard some ships and soon aboard most, much of that hassle will be done with a SNAP.
The Navy has looked at the paperwork blizzard of recordkeeping responsibility of the essential records and reports that must be generated, and has offered relief to the fleet. This is in the form of S-N-A-P, which stands for Shipboard Non-Tactical ADP Program.
SNAP II is a modern shipboard computer system designed to support shipboard and intermediate-level maintenance, supply, financial, and administrative functions. If this sounds confusing, it really isn't, for the systems are designed to be user-friendly; that is, operating instructions are written in everyday English. Figure 1-11 shows the AN/UYK-62 (V) Data Processing Set. This is the SNAP II computer and its associated hardware.
Figure 1-11. - AN/UYK-62 (V) Data Processing Set (SNAP II).
Over the next 3 years, new functions will be added to SNAP to support more of the ship's administrative workload. Pay, personnel, food service, ship's store, PMS, training, medical and dental data are all to be added to SNAP systems.
The SNAP concept is to take the power of the modern computer, the ability to process information, and put that power in the hands of the work center sailors. The sailors can use the system to reduce the labor associated with the paperwork function. User terminals are placed in the different work centers for use by the work center supervisor. Each work center has a different access code. This access code or password prevents unauthorized entry into the main computer's program. Different levels of entry are also defined. The levels depend on a work center's need.
Information stored in the computer for a typical work center normally has the following items that can be updated by the work center supervisor. COSAL (coordinated onboard ship/shore allowance list) is a listing of the repair parts that are allowed to be kept onboard ship, at all times. APL (allowance parts list) is the reference for stock numbers, part numbers, and quantity allowed onboard for a specific system. EIC (equipment identification code) identifies a system, sub-system, or equipment. SHIP'S FORCE WORK LIST is a listing of all work to be performed by a certain work center during a given time period. CSMP (current ship's maintenance projects) provides shipboard maintenance managers with a consolidated listing of deferred maintenance to manage and control its accomplishment. These are but a few of the uses of SNAP II that can be updated by the work center supervisor.
Although the information is usually viewed on a display screen (cathode-ray tube), printed (hard) copies can be obtained. Today, hard copy output from SNAP can be sent to higher authorities in lieu of written reports. In the future, these hard copy transmittals may be replaced by disks or tapes containing the same data. In some cases, the shipboard computers will have an extra telephone wire to the pier or tender, and information can be exchanged electronically.
And there are other important benefits. In practice, the system expedites the storage and retrieval of information the Navy has about its ships. In turn, information that is more accessible means a more timely supply of parts, an improved aid to planners on when and how long to schedule ships' overhauls, and updated information for making decisions whether to place additional or remove unnecessary shipboard equipment. These decisions are now made by laboriously using stacks of printed files. SNAP can sort through these files electronically so Navy planners can make more effective and timely decisions.
SNAP II is a system for unclassified use only at present. This cuts the costs of the installation and many of the physical and electronic security requirements.
Q.40 What is one of the more widespread uses of the computer?