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Microcomputers (personal computers)[edit]

Microcomputers are the most common kind of computers in use as of 2014. The term microcomputer was
introduced with the advent of systems based on single chip microprocessors. The best-known early system was
the Altair 8800, introduced in 1975. The term "microcomputer" has practically become an anachronism.
These computers include:

Desktop computers A case and a display, put under and on a desk.

In-car computers (carputers) Built into a car, for entertainment, navigation, etc.

Game consoles Fixed computers specialized for entertainment purposes (video games).

Smaller microcomputers are also called mobile devices:

Laptops and notebook computers Portable and all in one case.

Tablet computer Like laptops, but with a touch-screen, entirely replacing the physical keyboard.

Smartphones, smartbooks, PDAs and palmtop computers Small handheld computers with limited

Programmable calculator Like small handhelds, but specialized on mathematical work.

Handheld game consoles The same as game consoles, but small and portable.

Minicomputers (midrange computers)[edit]

Minicomputers (colloquially, minis) are a class of multi-user computers that lie in the middle range of the
computing spectrum, in between the smallest mainframe computers and the largest single-user systems
(microcomputers or personal computers). The term superminicomputer or supermini was used to distinguish
more powerful minicomputers that approached mainframes in capability. Superminis were usually 32-bit at a time
when most minicomputers were 16-bit. The contemporary term for minicomputer is midrange computer, such as the
higher-end SPARC, POWER and Itanium-based systems from Oracle Corporation, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Mainframe computers[edit]
The term mainframe computer was created to distinguish the traditional, large, institutional computer intended to
service multiple users from the smaller, single user machines. These computers are capable of handling and
processing very large amounts of data quickly. Mainframe computers are used in large institutions such as
government, banks and large corporations. They are measured in MIPS (million instructions per second) and
respond to up to 100s of millions of users at a time.

A Supercomputer is focused on performing tasks involving intense numerical calculations such as weather
forecasting, fluid dynamics, nuclear simulations, theoretical astrophysics, and complex scientific computations. A
supercomputer is a computer that is at the front-line of current processing capacity, particularly speed of calculation.
The term supercomputer itself is rather fluid, and the speed of today's supercomputers tends to become typical of
tomorrow's ordinary computer. Supercomputer processing speeds are measured in floating point operations per
second, or FLOPS. An example of a floating point operation is the calculation of mathematical equations in real
numbers. In terms of computational capability, memory size and speed, I/O technology, and topological issues such
as bandwidth and latency, supercomputers are the most powerful, are very expensive, and not cost-effective just to
perform batch or transaction processing. Transaction processing is handled by less powerful computers such as
server computers or mainframes. They are mainly kept in a cool environment for proper functions.

Classes by function[edit]

Server usually refers to a computer that is dedicated to provide a service. For example, a computer dedicated to
adatabase may be called a "database server". "File servers" manage a large collection of computer files. "Web
servers" process web pages and web applications. Many smaller servers are actually personal computers that have
been dedicated to provide services for other computers.

Workstations are computers that are intended to serve one user and may contain special hardware enhancements
not found on a personal computer. By the mid 1990s personal computers reached the processing capabilities of Mini
computers and Workstations. Also, with the release of multi-tasking systems such as OS/2, Windows NT and Linux,
the operating systems of personal computers could do the job of this class of machines.

Information appliances[edit]
Information appliances are computers specially designed to perform a specific "user-friendly" functionsuch as
playing music, photography, or editing text. The term is most commonly applied to mobile devices, though there are
also portable and desktop devices of this class.

Embedded computers[edit]
Embedded computers are computers that are a part of a machine or device. Embedded computers generally
execute aprogram that is stored in non-volatile memory and is only intended to operate a specific machine or
device. Embedded computers are very common. Embedded computers are typically required to operate
continuously without being reset or rebooted, and once employed in their task the software usually cannot be
modified. An automobile may contain a number of embedded computers; however, a washing machine and a DVD
player would contain only one. The central processing units (CPUs) used in embedded computers are often
sufficient only for the computational requirements of the specific application and may be slower and cheaper than
CPUs found in a personal computer.

Classes by usage[edit]
Public computer[edit]
Computers that are open for public uses. They are normally fire walled to prevent abuse. Most are restricted to
install software. There are many places one can use them such as cybercafes, schools and libraries.

Personal computer[edit]
Computers that are solely for one user. The user has complete access to any part of the computer.

Display computer[edit]
Computers that are displayed in a shop. These computers are mainly for preview. These computers are rarely
firewalled but are monitored. They are likely to have internet access.

The personal computer (PC) defines a computer designed for

general use by a single person. While a Mac is a PC, most people relate the term with systems
that run the Windowsoperating system. PCs were first known as microcomputersbecause they
were a complete computer but built on a smaller scale than the huge systems in use by most

A PC that is not designed for portability is a desktop computer.

The expectation with desktop systems are that you will set the computer up in a permanent
location. Most desktops offer more power, storage and versatility for less cost than their portable

Also called notebooks, laptopsare portable computers that

integrate the display, keyboard, a pointing device or trackball, processor, memory and hard
drive all in a battery-operatedpackage slightly larger than an average hardcover book.

Netbooks are ultra-portable computers that are even smaller

than traditional laptops. The extreme cost-effectiveness of netbooks (roughly $300 to $500)
means they're cheaper than almost any brand-new laptop you'll find at retail outlets. However,
netbooks' internal components are less powerful than those in regular laptops.

Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are tightly integrated

computers that often use flash memory instead of a hard drive for storage. These computers
usually do not have keyboards but rely on touchscreentechnology for user input. PDAs are
typically smaller than a paperback novel, very lightweight with a reasonable battery life. A
slightly larger and heavier version of the PDA is the handheld computer.

Another type of computer is a workstation. A workstation is

simply a desktop computer that has a more powerful processor, additional memory and
enhanced capabilities for performing a special group of task, such as 3D Graphics or game

A computer that has been optimized to provide services to

other computers over a network.Servers usually have powerful processors, lots of memory and
large hard drives. The next type of computer can fill an entire room.

In the early days of computing, mainframes were huge

computers that could fill an entire room or even a whole floor! As the size of computers has
diminished while the power has increased, the term mainframe has fallen out of use in favor
ofenterprise server. You'll still hear the term used, particularly in large companies to describe
the huge machines processing millions of transactions every day.

This type of computer usually costs hundreds of thousands or

even millions of dollars. Although some supercomputers are single computer systems, most are
composed of multiple high performance computers working in parallel as a single system. The
best known supercomputers are built by Cray Supercomputers.

The latest trend in computing is wearable computers.

Essentially, common computer applications (e-mail, database, multimedia, calendar/scheduler)
are integrated into watches, cell phones, visors and even clothing. For more information see
these articles on computer clothing,smart watches and fabric PCs.