Microprocessors and computers

The most important use of electronics is in microprocessor and computer systems. A computer can receive, store, retrieve, and communicate enormous quantities of information at phenomenal speeds. It can also manipulate, rearrange, select, and transform this information. It performs arithmetical or logical processes accurately at high speed after receiving the instructions (programme) and values (data) without the need for further intervention by the operator.

Flexibility in processing of data occurs because the system can be programmed to produce YES or NO decisions, based on the result of comparing and testing monitored data, that then determine the choice of two alternative courses of action in the program of the system. These alternative courses within the main program sequence may include counted loop sequences, branching or jumping out of the main sequence, and selection of stored sub-routines.

It is these facilities that give electronically-controlled knitting pattern preparation and needle selection their extensive capabilities as compared with previously available methods. Inputs include switches, sensors on knitting machines, keyboards, light pens, tapes and discs; and outputs include actuators on knitting machines, lights, digital and graphical displays, tapes, and printers. Outside the system, the digital impulses may be changed from parallel to serial, or even analogue, form, or may be converted into light, sound, radio or carrier waves, or mechanical movements.

Although it is possible to directly program a system using switches, a matrix board, a keyboard or another input device, the processor (and probably the knitting machine) will be held waiting during this time-consuming operation. It is therefore preferable to record the program and data in an auxiliary memory store such as a tape or disc. Its contents can be rapidly inputted electronically into internal memory, as required, whilst using a direct input keyboard or switches for minor amendments or alterations during the running of the programme.

Some systems are programmed to interact with the operative who is thus able, within specified and guided limits, to change values of data, with the effects of the amendments being visually indicated by the system.

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