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general-purpose computer[¦jen·rəl ¦pər·pəs kəm′pyüd·ər]
a digital computer that is used to solve a wide range of scientific and technical, economic, and other problems, such as the design of complex engineering structures, the computation of spacecraft flight trajectories, and the calculation of payrolls. In contrast to a special-purpose computer, a general-purpose computer is not designed to solve any particular problem. A general-purpose computer is characterized by a large memory that is organized according to the hierarchical principle, a well-developed man/machine interface, and branching operations. Examples of general-purpose computers include the BESM-6 computer (USSR), the ES family of computers (COMECON countries), the Atlas and System 4 computers (Great Britain), and the CDC 6600 computer and the IBM 370 family of computers (USA).