[ih-lek-tron-ik, ee-lek-]
oscillator, electronic, electronic circuit that produces an output signal of a specific frequency. An oscillator generally consists of an amplifier having part of its output returned to the input by means of a feedback loop; the necessary and sufficient condition for oscillation is that the signal, in passing from input to output and back to input via the feedback loop, arrive at the input with no change in amplitude or phase. If this condition is met for only a single frequency, the output is a pure sine wave; if it is met for more than one frequency, the output is a complex wave. Some oscillators are designed to operate under certain conditions so that the output is a square wave, a triangular wave, or a pulse. In some cases, a very stable mechanical oscillator, such as a specially prepared quartz crystal, may be coupled to an electronic oscillator to enhance its frequency stability. The frequency of a voltage-controlled oscillator, used in frequency modulation, is automatically adjusted by a small control current.

Any music involving electronic processing (e.g., recording and editing on tape) and whose reproduction involves the use of loudspeakers. In the late 1940s, magnetic tape began to be used, especially in France, to modify natural sounds (playing them backward, at different speeds, etc.), creating the genre known as musique concrète. By the early 1950s, composers in Germany and the U.S. were employing assembled conglomerations of oscillators, filters, and other equipment to produce entirely new sounds. The development of voltage-controlled oscillators and filters led, in the 1950s, to the first synthesizers, which effectively standardized the assemblages and made them more flexible. No longer relying on tape editing, electronic music could now be created in real time. Since their advent in the late 1970s, personal computers have been used to control the synthesizers. Digital sampling—composing with music and sounds electronically extracted from other recordings—has largely replaced the use of oscillators as a sound source.

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in full electronic mail

Messages and other data exchanged between individuals using computers in a network. An e-mail system allows computer users to send text, graphics, and sometimes sounds and animated images to other users. It developed from large organizations using an internal messaging system as a communication link among employees. The mass provision of e-mail addresses for private individuals by Internet service providers led to the development of e-mail as a system to supplement or replace communication by letter.

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Collection of data or information organized for rapid search and retrieval, especially by a computer. Databases are structured to facilitate storage, retrieval, modification, and deletion of data in conjunction with various data-processing operations. A database consists of a file or set of files that can be broken down into records, each of which consists of one or more fields. Fields are the basic units of data storage. Users retrieve database information primarily through queries. Using keywords and sorting commands, users can rapidly search, rearrange, group, and select the field in many records to retrieve or create reports on particular aggregates of data according to the rules of the database management system being used.

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Communication between parties at a distance from one another. Modern telecommunication systems—capable of transmitting telephone, fax, data, radio, or television signals—can transmit large volumes of information over long distances. Digital transmission is employed in order to achieve high reliability with minimal noise, or interference, and because it can transmit any signal type, digital or analog. For digital transmission, analog signals must be subjected to a process of analog-to-digital conversion; most television, radio, and voice communications are analog and must be digitized before transmission. Transmission may occur over cables, wireless radio relay systems, or via satellite links.

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United Nations agency headquartered in Geneva. Its roots can be traced to 1865, when the International Telegraph Union was established to coordinate international development of the telegraph. It acquired its present name in 1934 and became a UN specialized agency in 1947. Its activities include regulating allocation of radio frequencies, setting standards on technical and operational matters, and assisting countries in developing their own telecommunications systems.

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in full electronic commerce

business-to-consumer and business-to-business commerce conducted by way of the Internet or other electronic networks. E-commerce originated in a standard for the exchange of documents during the 1948–49 Berlin blockade and airlift. Various industries elaborated upon the system until the first general standard was published in 1975. The electronic data interchange (EDI) standard is unambiguous, independent of any particular machine, and flexible enough to handle most simple electronic transactions. In addition to standard forms for business-to-business transactions, e-commerce encompasses much wider activity—for example, the deployment of secure private networks (intranets) for sharing information within a company, as well as selective extensions of a company's intranet to collaborating business networks (extranets). A new form of cooperation known as a virtual company, actually a network of firms, each performing some of the processes needed to manufacture a product or deliver a service, has flourished.

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