What is Electronic Data Processing?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Data is information and can include anything from alphanumeric characters to dates, equations, and multimedia. Data processing is one of the steps in the information processing cycle and comes after data is acquired, entered, and validated. This was originally done by individuals and incrementally, using punched tapes or tabulating cards or other methods. Electronic data processing (EDP), also called automatic data processing (ADP) or information processing, is the automated use of computer technology for the purpose of processing data, whether in classifying, recording, summarizing, or manipulating it.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Originally, this term used to cover the entire field of computers and their activities. The first scientific computer that IBM made available commercially wasn’t called a computer: it was named the IBM 701 Electronic Data Processing Machines — machines was plural because the system was composed of 11 interconnected units; it was later known as the 701 Data Processing System. Additionally, Electronic Data Processing was the original name of Honeywell, Inc. from 1960 to 1963.

EDP coverage is insurance that is focused on covering the equipment, software that was developed in-house, damage or loss of data, and any resulting loss of income. Prepackaged software is not generally covered. Since damage to data processing equipment and data may be caused by electrical issues, changes in temperature and humidity, and magnetic disturbances, and since these are excluded in standard policy coverage, they need to be specially elected. Portable computing devices, projectors, and peripherals can be included in the coverage. A separate kind of computer virus and hacking coverage is also available as part of EDP coverage.

Two branches of the US Armed Forces, the Marine Corps and the Air Force, offer an exam called the Electronic Data Processing Test (EDPT) as a way to determine aptitude for computer programming or technical applications specialties. It is offered at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). The EDPT is not offered until the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) — the entrance exam given in order to enlist in the United States Military — has been completed. A score of 71 is required for the Air Force and 50 for the Marine Corps in order to qualify for the jobs. Retest is possible, but only after a six-month waiting period.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to EasyTechJunkie about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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Discussion Comments


Data processing sure has changed. Electronic data processing is easier and more efficient method for keeping records. Though some people have been technology hold outs, I think most people are surprised how quickly they learn and how efficient date processing is with computers.

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