The creation of the computer has greatly facilitated the use of feedback loops in manufacturing processes. Computers and feedback loops have promoted the development of numerically controlled machines (the motions of which are controlled by punched paper or magnetic tapes) and machining centers (machine tools that can perform several different machining operations). More recently, the introduction of microprocessors and computer combinations have made possible the development of computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacture (CAD and CAM) technology. When using these systems a designer draws a part and indicates its dimensions with the aid of a special light pen on a Computer Use televisionlike cathode-ray tube computer display screen. fter the sketch has been completed to the satisfaction of the designer, the computer automatically generates a magnetic or punched tape that directs a machining center in machining the part.
Another development that has further increased the use of automation is that of flexible manufacturing systems (FMS). FMS extends automation to companies in which small production runs do not make full automation economically feasible. A computer is used to monitor and govern the entire operation of the factory, from scheduling each step of production to keeping track of parts inventories and tool Computer Use use. Automation has also had an influence on areas of the economy other than manufacturing. Small computers are used in systems called word processors, which are rapidly becoming a standard part of the modern office. This technology combines a small computer with a cathode-ray display screen, a typewriter keyboard, and a printer. It is used to edit texts, to type form letters tailored to the recipient, and to manipulate mailing lists and other data. The system is capable of performing many other tasks that increase office productivity.