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An application program is a program that is applied to a specific task like accounting or word processing or home design. Here is a more involved definition of the term:

An application program is a program designed to perform a specific function directly for the user or, in some cases, for another application program. Examples of applications include word processors, database programs, Web browsers, development tools, drawing, paint, and image editing programs, and communication programs. Applications use the services of the computer's operating system and other supporting applications. The formal requests and means of communicating with other programs that an application program uses is called the application program interface (API).

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There are so many types of applications that it is very difficult to put them into categories but here are a few major types of application:


Applications Word Processing
Database Management System
Other (DTP, Educational, Accounting, Project Management, Entertainment, etc.)





Word Processing

Word processors have come to be among the most commonly used applications. Originally designed to replace the typewriter, the first Text Editors were little more than fancy typewriters with the ability to enter, modify, save and then retrieve the text that would printed on paper. Over the years features have been continuously added so that the major word processors have incorporated many feature of other applications such as spreadsheets, databases, graphics, web page design, DTP and more.

The paradigm of the word processor is still the printed page. Information that is word processed is organized into pages in a document and then saved in a file. Formatting follows the patterns of the printed page with margins, headers and footers, tables of content, indicies, and bookmarks. Even though we are moving slowly toward the "paperless society" promised decades ago, the word processor is still anchored in the manner in which we work with paper documents.

There are a great host of word processing applications currently available some of the top commercial word processors include WordPerfect, MS Word and Word Pro.







For a detailed introduction to spreadsheets, visit the Spreadsheet Tutorials










Database Management Systems

Data processing is not an invention of the electronic computer era. Long before the first computers were built, businesses kept track of large amounts of information on paper, in files and even on punched cards (see Origins for more on the birth of computers). In the early years of "electronic data processing" computers were used to streamline the work involved in maintaining large collections of information (called databases). Here is an example of how computers began to streamline large corporate paperwork.

While J. Presper Eckert and John Mauchly were builting America's first commercial computer, the J. Lyons Co of England, a very large wholesale food company, became Britains first computer company. This supplier of tea and pastries was faced with the need to streamline their administration operations. Areas such as inventory control, payroll, and invoicing were becoming too costly and too complex for clerks to manage. Therefore, in 1948, the J. Lyons Co. decided to build their own computer.

A deal with Cambridge University, which was developing the EDSAC computer at the time, gave this company the expertise they needed. By 1951 the Lyons Electronic Office or LEO was in operation. It could complete in 7 hours, the work that 200 clerks needed a week to finish.

The collection of information, such as payroll, is called the database while the software application that controls the data is called a Database Management System.

The database is a collection of related files that are stored on disk. Each file is made of records that have the information about an item, such as an employee or a product. Each individual piece of information about that item is stored in a field.






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