Computer systems contain both hard and software. Hardware is any tangible item in a computer system, like the system unit, keyboard, or printer. Software, or a computer program, is the set of instruction that direct the computer to perform a task. Software falls into one of two categories: system software and application software. System software controls the operation of the computer hardware; whereas, application software enables a user to perform tasks. Three major types of application software on the market today for personal computers are word processors, electronic spreadsheets, and database management systems (Little and Benson 10-42).
A word processing program allows a user to efficiently and economically create professional looking documents such as memoranda, letters, reports, and resumes. With a word processor, one can easily revise a document. To improve the accuracy of one’s writing, word processors can check the spelling and the grammar in a document. They also provide a thesaurus to enable a user to add variety and precision to his or her writing. Many word processing programs also provide desktop publishing features to create brochures, advertisements, and newsletters.
An electronic spreadsheet enables a user to organize data in a fashion similar to a paper spreadsheet. The difference is the user does not have to perform calculations manually; electronic spreadsheets can be instructed to perform any computation desired. The contents of an electronic spreadsheet can be easily modified by the user. Once the data is modified, all calculations in the spreadsheet are recomputed automatically. Many electronic spreadsheet packages also enable a user to graph the data in his or her spreadsheet (Wakefield 98-110).
A database management system (DBMS) is a software program that allows a user to efficiently store a large amount of data in a centralized location. Data is one of the most valuable resources to any organization. For this reason, user desire data be organized and readily accessible in a variety of formats. With aDBMS, a user can then easily store data, retrieve data, modify data, analyze data, and create a variety of reports from the data(Aldrin 25-37).
Many organizations today have all three of these types of application software packages installed on their personal computers. Word processors, electronic spreadsheets, and database management systems make users’ tasks more efficient. When users are more efficient, the company as a whole operates more economically and efficiently.
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