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Word of the Week - Computer

Computer



... in 16 Am. Jur. Proof of Facts 273:

“Computers may be defined as systems of machines that process information in the form of letters, numbers, and other symbols, and that are selfdirecting within predetermined limits”.


Another more cryptic definition, “Basically, any kind of computing” device, is found in Peter Seipel's Computing Law (1977), p. 344.
“Computer” is also defined as follows:

... a calculator esp. designed for the solution of complex mathematical problems; specif: a programmable electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data ... any of several devices for making rapid calculations in navigation or gunnery ... (Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1976)); ... a mechanical or electronic apparatus capable of carrying out repetitious and highly complex mathematical operations at high speeds. Computers are used in business for the maintenance of inventories, the calculation and preparation of payrolls, etc.; in industry for the automatic operation of machinery, the control of refinery operations, etc.; and in research for the determination of flight characteristics of missiles and spacecraft, the prediction of the behavior of substances acted upon by a number of variables, etc.(Random House Dictionary of the English Language (1973)).

R. v. McLaughlin (1980) 
1980 CarswellAlta 316 (S.C.C.) at para. 18
Estey J. (Ritchie J. concurring)



... a computer system may be termed a “facility”, as being something built, installed or established to serve a particular function or to accomplish some end or provide a certain service.
... the function of the computer is not the channelling of information to outside recipients so as to be susceptible in that respect to unauthorized use. Rather, it is to permit the making of complex calculations, to process and correlate information and to store it, and to enable it to be retrieved.

R. v. McLaughlin (1980)
1980 CarswellAlta 316 (S.C.C.) at para. 9, 10
Laskin C.J.C. (Ritchie, Dickson and Lamer J.J. concurring)



A computer is a complex system of interconnected, integrated electrical circuits. It consists of a circuit board onto which have been pinned or soldered a number of elctronic components, which communicate by means of traces (called “buses” or “wires”) etched into the board. The main electronic components of the system are the input/output devices, the microprocessor or central processing unit (CPU) and the memory.

Apple Computer Inc. v. Mackintosh Computers Ltd. (1987)
1987 CarswellNat 887 (Fed. C.A.) at para. 58
MacGuigan J.A.



A computer is a highly complex miniaturized interconnected collection of electrical circuits.

Apple Computer Inc. v. Mackintosh Computers Ltd. (1987)
1987 CarswellNat 720 (Fed. C.A.) at para. 29
Hugessen J.A.



A computer is a complex system of interconnected, integrated electrical circuits. It consists of a circuit board (“mother board”) into which have been pinned or soldered a number of electronic components. The components communicate with one another by means of the traces (sometimes called buses, sometimes called wires) etched into the board. The main electronic components of the system are the input/output devices, the microprocessor (CPU) and the memory.

Apple Computer Inc. v. Mackintosh Computers Ltd. (1986)
1986 CarswellNat 705 (Fed. T.D.) at para. 25
Reed J.


A computer, for our purposes, is a device which is programmed to carry out a specified series of steps, but generally speaking it is the hardware itself which is usually referred to as “the computer”, or “computing apparatus”.

Application No. 096,284, Re (1978)
1978 CarswellNat 784 (Can. Pat. App. Bd. & Pat. Commr.)
Patent Appeal Board (Commissioner of Patents concurring)


A person's computer is a highly personal storage instrument.

Pottruff v. Don Berry Holdings Inc. (2012)
2012 CarswellOnt 525 (Ont. S.C.J.) at para. 24
Arrell J.



... computers are different from other more traditional objects of search and seizure. They are different not only because of the inordinately vast amounts of personal information that can be stored on them but also—in the words of Fish J. in [R. v. Morelli (2010), 2010 CarswellSask 150 (S.C.C.)]—because of the electronic roadmap they can provide with respect to the “cybernetic peregrinations” of the individual whose computer it is. They are different as well because of the technological difficulties inherent in the ability of prosecutorial authorities to search precisely for what they are entitled to obtain. For the most part, however, these differences are in the degree and quantum of information that may be accessible on searching a computer, as opposed to searching, for instance, a home. Or, they are simply differences in methods and mechanisms used to access the information (complex and sophisticated software and technology in the case of computers, and the more prosaic human senses of sound, sight, touch and smell aided by forensic science, in the case of traditional searches). These differences are not differences in principle. Stripped to their essentials for these purposes, conceptually, computers—like homes—are simply the storage repositories for a great deal of information about an individual (albeit often sensitive private and confidential information).

R. v. Jones (2011)
2011 CarswellOnt 11405 (Ont. C.A.) at para. 51
Blair J.A.

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