electronic commerce

<application, communications>

(EC) The conducting of business communication and transactions over networks and through computers. As most restrictively defined, electronic commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services, and the transfer of funds, through digital communications. However EC also includes all inter-company and intra-company functions (such as marketing, finance, manufacturing, selling, and negotiation) that enable commerce and use electronic mail, EDI, file transfer, fax, video conferencing, workflow, or interaction with a remote computer.

Electronic commerce also includes buying and selling over the web and the Internet, electronic funds transfer, smart cards, digital cash (e.g. Mondex), and all other ways of doing business over digital networks.

[Electronic Commerce Dictionary].

Last updated: 1995-10-08

Electronic Commerce Dictionary


A lexicon of electronic commerce terms. It includes over 900 terms and acronyms, and over 200 website addresses. It has entries on commerce over the World-Wide Web, Internet payment systems, The National Information Infrastructure, Electronic Data Interchange, Electronic Funds Transfer, Public Key Cryptography, smart cards and digital cash, computer and network security for commerce, marketing through electronic media.


Last updated: 1999-03-24

electronic data interchange

<application, communications>

(EDI) The exchange of standardised document forms between computer systems for business use. EDI is part of electronic commerce.

EDI is most often used between different companies ("trading partners") and uses some variation of the ANSI X12 standard (USA) or EDIFACT (UN sponsored global standard).

[Electronic Commerce Dictionary].

Last updated: 1995-10-06

Electronic Data Processing


1. (EDP) data processing by computers.


2. The name of Honeywell's computer business between 1960, when it gained complete ownership of Datamatic Corporation, and 1963, when it was officially renamed Honeywell Inc.

Last updated: 1995-03-30

Electronic Design Automation


(EDA) Software tools for the development of integrated circuits and systems.

Companies selling EDA tools include Cadence, Intergraph, Mentor, Synopsys, Viewlogic. Zuken-Redac Dazix has been acquired by Intergraph.

Last updated: 1995-10-09

Electronic Discrete Sequential Automatic Computer

<computer, history>

(EDSAC, often "Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer") Based upon the EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer) designed in 1945, the EDSAC was completed in 1949 at the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory in England. The EDSAC performed its first calculation on 1949-05-06. EDSAC was considered to be the first computer to store programs. It ceased to exist in about 1951.

[What happened to it?]

Last updated: 2010-01-07

Electronic Frontier Foundation


(EFF) A group established to address social and legal issues arising from the impact on society of the increasingly pervasive use of computers as a means of communication and information distribution. EFF is a non-profit civil liberties public interest organisation working to protect freedom of expression, privacy, and access to on-line resources and information.


Last updated: 1994-12-08

electronic funds transfer

<application, communications>

(EFT, EFTS, - system) Transfer of money initiated through electronic terminal, automated teller machine, computer, telephone, or magnetic tape. In the late 1990s, this increasingly includes transfer initiated via the web. The term also applies to credit card and automated bill payments.


Last updated: 1999-12-08

Electronic Funds Transfer Point of Sale

<business, real-time>

A method of electronic payment which allows money to be transferred from the account of the shopper to the merchant in close-to real-time. Generally the shopper will give the merchant a credit or debit card, which will be swiped to obtain the account information. The shopper will then be required to either sign a receipt or enter a PIN via a keypad to authorise the transaction.

Last updated: 2003-06-22

electronic funds transfer system

electronic funds transfer

electronic magazine

<messaging, publication, web>

(e-zine) A regular publication on some particular topic distributed in digital form, chiefly now via the web but also by electronic mail or floppy disk. E-zines are often distributed for free by enthusiasts.

Last updated: 1996-08-04

electronic mail


(e-mail) Messages automatically passed from one computer user to another, often through computer networks and/or via modems over telephone lines.

A message, especially one following the common RFC 822 standard, begins with several lines of headers, followed by a blank line, and the body of the message. Most e-mail systems now support the MIME standard which allows the message body to contain "attachments" of different kinds rather than just one block of plain ASCII text. It is conventional for the body to end with a signature.

Headers give the name and electronic mail address of the sender and recipient(s), the time and date when it was sent and a subject. There are many other headers which may get added by different message handling systems during delivery.

The message is "composed" by the sender, usually using a special program - a "Mail User Agent" (MUA). It is then passed to some kind of "Message Transfer Agent" (MTA) - a program which is responsible for either delivering the message locally or passing it to another MTA, often on another host. MTAs on different hosts on a network often communicate using SMTP. The message is eventually delivered to the recipient's mailbox - normally a file on his computer - from where he can read it using a mail reading program (which may or may not be the same MUA as used by the sender).

Contrast snail-mail, paper-net, voice-net.

The form "email" is also common, but is less suggestive of the correct pronunciation and derivation than "e-mail". The word is used as a noun for the concept ("Isn't e-mail great?", "Are you on e-mail?"), a collection of (unread) messages ("I spent all night reading my e-mail"), and as a verb meaning "to send (something in) an e-mail message" ("I'll e-mail you (my report)"). The use of "an e-mail" as a count noun for an e-mail message, and plural "e-mails", is now (2000) also well established despite the fact that "mail" is definitely a mass noun.

Oddly enough, the word "emailed" is actually listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. It means "embossed (with a raised pattern) or arranged in a net work". A use from 1480 is given. The word is derived from French "emmailleure", network. Also, "email" is German for enamel.

The story of the first e-mail message.

How data travels around the world

Last updated: 2014-10-07

electronic mail address


(Usually "e-mail address") The string used to specify the source or destination of an electronic mail message. E.g. "[email protected]".

The RFC 822 standard is probably the most widely used on the Internet. X.400 was once used in Europe and Canada. UUCP-style (bang path) addresses or other kinds of source route became virtually extinct in the 1990s.

In the example above, "john" is the local part which is the name of a mailbox on the destination computer. If the sender and recipient use the same computer, or the same LAN, for electronic mail then the local part is usually all that is required.

If they use different computers, e.g. they work at different companies or use different Internet service providers, then the "host part", e.g. "sales.acme.com" must be appended after an "@". This usually takes the form of a fully qualified domain name or, within a large organisation, it may be just the hostname part, e.g. "sales". The destination computer named by the host part is usually a server of some kind rather than an individual's workstation or PC. The user's mail is stored on the server and read later via client mail software running on the user's computer.

Large organisations, such as universities will often set up a global alias directory which maps a simple user name such as "jsmith" to an address which contains more information such as "[email protected]". This hides the detailed knowledge of where the message will be delivered from the sender, making it much easier to redirect mail if a user leaves or moves to a different department for example.

Last updated: 2014-10-07

electronic mail client

Mail User Agent

electronic meeting


The use of a network of personal computers to improve communication that takes place in a meeting. Electronic meetings are effective with as few as two participants and with over 100 participants. Participants can be face-to-face in a meeting room or distributed around the world. They may all be participating at the same time or different times.

Getting Results from Electronic Meetings.

Last updated: 2014-09-20

Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer


(ENIAC) The first electronic digital computer and an ancestor of most computers in use today. ENIAC was developed by Dr. John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert during World War II at the Moore School of the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1940 Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff attended a lecture by Mauchly and subsequently agreed to show him his binary calculator, the Atanasoff-Berry Computer (ABC), which was partially built between 1937-1942. Mauchly used ideas from the ABC in the design of ENIAC, which was started in June 1943 and released publicly in 1946.

ENIAC was not the first digital computer, Konrad Zuse's Z3 was released in 1941. Though, like the ABC, the Z3 was electromechanical rather than electronic, it was freely programmable via paper tape whereas ENIAC was only programmable by manual rewiring or switches. Z3 used binary representation like modern computers whereas ENIAC used decimal like mechanical calculators.

ENIAC was underwritten and its development overseen by Lieutenant Herman Goldstine of the U.S. Army Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL). While the prime motivation for constructing the machine was to automate the wartime production of firing and bombing tables, the very first program run on ENIAC was a highly classified computation for Los Alamos. Later applications included weather prediction, cosmic ray studies, wind tunnel design, petroleum exploration, and optics.

ENIAC had 20 registers made entirely from vacuum tubes. It had no other no memory as we currently understand it. The machine performed an addition in 200 microseconds, a multiplication in about three milliseconds, and a division in about 30 milliseconds.

John von Neumann, a world-renowned mathematician serving on the BRL Scientific Advisory Committee, soon joined the developers of ENIAC and made some critical contributions. While Mauchly, Eckert and the Penn team continued on the technological problems, he, Goldstine, and others took up the logical problems.

In 1947, while working on the design for the successor machine, EDVAC, von Neumann realized that ENIAC's lack of a central control unit could be overcome to obtain a rudimentary stored program computer (see the Clippinger reference below). Modifications were undertaken that eventually led to an instruction set of 92 "orders". Von Neumann also proposed the fetch-execute cycle.

[R. F. Clippinger, "A Logical Coding System Applied to the ENIAC", Ballistic Research Laboratory Report No. 673, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, September 1948. http://ftp.arl.mil/~mike/comphist/48eniac-coding].

[H. H. Goldstine, "The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann", Princeton University Press, 1972].

[K. Kempf, "Electronic Computers within the Ordnance Corps", Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, 1961. http://ftp.arl.mil/~mike/comphist/61ordnance].

[M. H. Weik, "The ENIAC Story", J. American Ordnance Assoc., 1961. http://ftp.arl.mil/~mike/comphist/eniac-story.html].

[How "general purpose" was ENIAC, compared to Zuse's Z3?]

Last updated: 2003-10-01

Electronic Performance Support System


(EPSS) A system that provides electronic task guidance and support to the user at the moment of need. EPSS can provide application help, reference information, guided instructions and/or tutorials, subject matter expert advice and hints on how to perform a task more efficiently. An EPSS can combine various technologies to present the desired information. The information can be in the form of text, graphical displays, sound, and video presentations.

["Electronic Performance Support Systems: How and Why to Remake the Workplace Through the Strategic Application of Technology", Gloria Gerry, Weingarten Press].

Last updated: 1997-10-24

Electronic Piece Of Cheese


Electronic Report Management


(ERM, Enterprise Report Management) The capture, archiving and publishing, in digital form, of (typically mainframe generated) documents such as accounting and financial reports. ERM often replaces systems based on paper or microfilm.

ERM usually captures data from print streams and stores it on hard drives, storage area networks or optical disk drives. The data is indexed and can be retreived at the desktop with a web browser or a fat client. ERM systems are part of enterprise content management or electronic document management.

An example application is PearlDoc QuickFile Information Management System (IMS).

An early replacement for greenbar printed reports was Computer Output on Microfilm (COM, not to be confused with Microsoft's Component Object Model). This was superseded by Computer Output to Laser Disk (or Disc - COLD) which used optical media.

In 1999 the AIIM renamed COLD to ERM/COLD to reflect the variety of media in use. This was promoted, in 2002, by Mason Grigsby - widely reputed as "The Father of COLD" for his seminal work with INSCI in the late 1980s. Judging from their website, AIIM don't seem too sure whether ERM is "Electronic", "Enterprise" or both.

Last updated: 2007-07-25

Electronics Industry Association

<body, standard>

(EIA) A body which publishes "Recommended Standards" (RS) for physical devices and their means of interfacing. EIA-232 is their standard that defines a computer's serial port, connector pin-outs, and electrical signaling.

Last updated: 1995-03-02

electronic whiteboarding

Audiographic Teleconferencing

Nearby terms:

electronelectronic commerceElectronic Commerce Dictionary

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