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McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Abbr. for “aggregate base course.”
2. Abbr. for “Associated Builders and Contractors.”
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.




An imperative language and programming environment from CWI, Netherlands. It is interactive, structured, high-level, and easy to learn and use. It is a general-purpose language which you might use instead of BASIC, Pascal or AWK. It is not a systems-programming language but is good for teaching or prototyping.

ABC has only five data types that can easily be combined; strong typing, yet without declarations; data limited only by memory; refinements to support top-down programming; nesting by indentation. Programs are typically around a quarter the size of the equivalent Pascal or C program, and more readable.

ABC includes a programming environment with syntax-directed editing, suggestions, persistent variables and multiple workspaces and infinite precision arithmetic.

An example function words to collect the set of all words in a document:

HOW TO RETURN words document: PUT IN collection FOR line in document: FOR word IN split line: IF word collection: INSERT word IN collection RETURN collection

Interpreter/compiler, version 1.04.01, by Leo Geurts, Lambert Meertens, Steven Pemberton <>. ABC has been ported to Unix, MS-DOS, Atari, Macintosh.

FTP, FTP, FTP uunet.

Mailing list: <>.

E-mail: <>.

["The ABC Programmer's Handbook" by Leo Geurts, Lambert Meertens and Steven Pemberton, published by Prentice-Hall (ISBN 0-13-000027-2)].

["An Alternative Simple Language and Environment for PCs" by Steven Pemberton, IEEE Software, Vol. 4, No. 1, January 1987, pp. 56-64.]
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(Atanasoff-Berry Computer) The first electronic digital computer. Completed in 1942 by Iowa State Professor John Atanasoff and graduate student Clifford Berry, it employed many of the principles of future computers. For example, although physically in the form of rotating drums, its memory used capacitors that were constantly being recharged like today's dynamic RAM (see DRAM).

The ABC used a standard IBM card reader for input and an odometer-like device for output. For interim storage, Atanasoff devised a binary punch and reader that could very quickly store 1,500 bits on paper sheets by electrostatically burning holes in them. The ABC could solve 29 linear equations with 29 unknowns in one 24-hour day, a marvel for its time.

It Took Years for Recognition
John Mauchly, cobuilder of the ENIAC, began corresponding with Atanasoff in 1940 and visited him in 1941. Although Eckert and Mauchly's machine gained international attention, Atanasoff was not recognized until years later. A 1973 court overturned an ENIAC patent, stating that the basic ideas of the modern computer came from Atanasoff. Some 17 years later at the age of 87, he was finally honored by receiving the National Medal of Technology.

In 1994, an Iowa State University team started building a replica of the ABC. It took three years to complete, but worked exactly as it was supposed to.

Old and New
Clifford Berry (top) stands at the original ABC, circa 1942, while John Erickson, reconstruciton team member (bottom), puts a card into the replica that he helped build more than a half century later. (Images courtesy of Iowa State University.)

Old and New
Clifford Berry (top) stands at the original ABC, circa 1942, while John Erickson, reconstruciton team member (bottom), puts a card into the replica that he helped build more than a half century later. (Images courtesy of Iowa State University.)

ABC Components
This shows all the components of the ABC machine. (Image courtesy of Iowa State University.)
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References in periodicals archive ?
Oxfam can sell your old computer in their shops and raise funds for their charity work.
* Apple also provides free recycling, including shipping, for any old computer when you buy a new computer from an Apple store.
* The consulting firm of Dovebid auctioned off old computers that contained confidential client information.
Many of the useful music software programs work on both new and old computers. It may be necessary for the family to invest only in the software program you require.
So he was shocked to learn that his sister's school--Lake Garda Elementary in Burlington, Connecticut--had decided to discard 50 of its old computers. Why would anyone, Jacob wondered, want to junk these valuable machines?
In the United States, a movement called the Computer TakeBack Campaign ( is demanding manufacturers take more responsibility for disposing of old computers. California and Massachusetts recently banned certain computer parts in landfills, while Apple, IBM and Hewlett-Packard take back computers for about a $30 fee.
Mr Timms said: ``Recycling old computers that would otherwise end up in land-fills is an outstanding idea.
Spuhler said because of tight budgets, many legal aid providers have not kept pace with the computer advancements, and the old computers many firms are now replacing would be a considerable upgrade in equipment used by the legal aid community.
IF your company has a stash of old computers lurking in a cupboard, here's your chance to put them to good use.
I use one of these old computers and a monitor to post announcements that my students can read as soon as they come into class.
Such efforts include the establishment of community computer centers and the recycling and reuse of old computers.
An innovative recycling program that uses inmate labor to refurbish old computers is benefiting both North Carolina schoolchildren and inmates, reports Corrections Alert.