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the monetary unit of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Liberia, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Barbadoes, Guyana, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Western Samoa, Hong Kong, and Fiji, as well as of the Bahama Islands, Brunei, and British Honduras. The dollar is divided into 100 cents.
The USA adopted the (silver) dollar in 1786, and the law of 1792 introduced bimetalism in the USA, providing for free coinage of gold and silver dollars. The gold dollar became the monetary unit in 1873, and the gold standard was officially adopted in the USA in 1900, providing for a dollar with 1.50463 grams of pure gold. After World War I (1914-18) the dollar gained dominance among the capitalist currencies, but the world economic crisis of 1929-33 greatly undermined the dollar and forced the USA to give up the gold standard in 1933. In 1934 the dollar was devalued by 40.94 percent and on Jan. 31, 1934, its gold content was fixed at 0.888671 grams of pure gold. Gold dollar coins were withdrawn from circulation and replaced with banknotes. The inflation after World War II (1939-45) reduced the purchasing power of the dollar to less than half of its prewar value.
The US dollar is the main currency of the dollar zone. The following dollar notes and coins are now in circulation: $100, $50, $20, $5, and $2 federal reserve notes (the issue of notes of $500 or more has been discontinued and they are virtually no longer in circulation); $10, $5, $2, and $1 silver certificates (they are gradually being bought up); $5 and $2 treasury notes, called greenbacks; and $1 and half-dollar silver coins and 25, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cent copper and nickel coins. According to the exchange rate set by the Gosbank (State Bank) of the USSR, US $100 were equal to 82.90 rubles on Dec. 24, 1971. The chronic deficit in the balance of payments the USA has been experiencing since the 1950’s is reducing gold reserves; this deficit and inflation have greatly lowered the purchasing power of the dollar, and its international position has become weaker. The acute currency crisis in the spring and summer of 1971 undermined the dollar as the key capitalist currency. In December 1971 the dollar was devalued by 7.89 percent and its gold content was lowered, while the official price of gold rose from $35 to $38 for a Troy ounce (31.1035 g).
M. G. POLIAKOV
Well-known uses of the dollar symbol in computing include as a prefix on the names of string variables in BASIC, shell and related languages like Perl. In shell languages it is also used in positional parameters so "$1" is the first parameter to a shell script, "$2" the second, etc.