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The computer has become the indispensable instrument in the laboratory. Not only are computers necessary for management and the communication of information, but they are usually the core of analytical instruments. No one can claim to be conversant with the production and communication of information from the clinical laboratory without a basic knowledge of the workings of computers. This discussion is an overview of computer systems, architecture, and programs, first focused on the small microcomputer or “personal computer,” then commenting on larger systems and the newer client/server systems. Some of this information will be old to some readers and quite new to others. Bear with us; our objective is to bring all readers to a level of familiarity with computer organization, components, and limitations that will enable them to follow discussions about system selection, integration, and validation, among other topics. Many books have dealt with topics mentioned here in passing, and we do not pretend to be (and feel no obligation to be) comprehensive or exhaustive in this discussion. Topics have been selected for elaboration based on their relevance to computer issues met in the laboratory. The discussion ends with a glossary of terms that must be assimilated if one wishes to follow any discussion of computer systems.
KeywordsDisk Drive Random Access Memory Computer Basic Machine Language Machine Instruction
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- 1.Goodman JM. Memory Management for All of Us. SAMS Publishing, Division of Prentice Hall Publishing, Carmel, Indiana, 1993Google Scholar