By Michael J. Cook (Auth.)
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Additional resources for Archives and the Computer
Paper tape is probably still in use in some large systems, but has generally disappeared from data preparation rooms everywhere. During its heyday it appeared more suitable for archival uses than punched cards, because it allowed long strings of data to be retained in series, and did not of itself impose limitations on field lengths. Its drawbacks were that it was relatively expensive to update or correct, since amendments to one part entailed copying the whole. Reels of punched paper tape may still be found, and pictures of it are sometimes used as a visual symbol for the whole process of automation.
Contact with the computer is by way of equipment installed in the archives office itself, and staff members who use it must clearly be familiar both with the system requirements and with the original data. It is possible to control input to some extent by programming facilities such as formatted screens or prompt questions. Many software packages permit users to design their own screen layouts for this. Where on-line input is used, it is likely that there can be interactive searching and output facilities as well.
More than one terminal may be included in the network, and they may be in different locations. Processing The main body of a large computer, often referred to as the mainframe (especially to distinguish it from micro or minicomputers), is officially known as the Central Processing Unit (CPU). The details of the structure of a CPU are not of direct interest to the user; they can be read in many manuals, and there is no need to give any further information here, beyond stating that the CPU has a control unit, an arithmetic/logic unit where the actual manipulation of data occurs, and a memory store.