A personal computer (PC) is a small, relatively inexpensive computer designed for an individual user. In price, personal computers range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. All are based on the microprocessor technology that enables manufacturers to put an entire CPU on one chip.
At home, the most popular use for personal computers is for playing games. Businesses use personal computers for word processing, accounting, desktop publishing, and for running spreadsheet and database management applications.
Personal Computers in the Late 1970s
Personal computers first appeared in the late 1970s. One of the first and most popular personal computers was the Apple II, introduced in 1977 by Apple Computer. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, new models and competing operating systems seemed to appear daily. Then, in 1981, IBM entered the fray with its first personal computer, known as the IBM PC. The IBM PC quickly became the personal computer of choice, and most other personal computer manufacturers fell by the wayside. One of the few companies to survive IBM’s onslaught was Apple Computer, which remains a major player in the personal computer marketplace.
Other companies adjusted to IBM’s dominance by building IBM clones, computers that were internally almost the same as the IBM PC, but that cost less. Because IBM clones used the same microprocessors as IBM PCs, they were capable of running the same software. Over the years, IBM has lost much of its influence in directing the evolution of PCs. Many of its innovations, such as the MCA expansion bus and the OS/2operating system, have not been accepted by the industry or the marketplace.
Popular PCs of Today
Today, the world of personal computers is basically divided between Apple Macintoshes and PCs. The principal characteristics of personal computers are that they are single-user systems and are based on microprocessors. However, although personal computers are designed as single-user systems, it is common to link them together to form a network. In terms of power, there is great variety. At the high end, the distinction between personal computers and workstations has faded. High-end models of the Macintosh and PC offer the same computing power and graphics capability as low-end workstations.
- personal finance manager
A simple accounting program that helps individuals manage their finances. Personal finance managers help you balance your checkbook and keep track of investments. Some can even help you pay your bills by printing out checks or transferring money electronically from your bank account.
- personal information manager
Abbreviated PIM, a type of software application designed to help users organize random bits of information. Although the category is fuzzy, most PIMs enable you to enter various kinds of textual notes — reminders, lists, dates — and to link these bits of information together in useful ways. Many PIMs also include calendar, scheduling, and […]
- personally identifiable information
Abbreviated as PII or pii, personally identifiable information is any information that can identify an individual. This type of information may be requested from users through online forms and can include your mailing address, credit card number, your IP address, phone number, e-mail address, Social Security number or any other unique identifier. Being cautious about […]
- Pervasive Computing
The idea that technology is moving beyond the personal computer to everyday devices with embedded technology and connectivity as computing devices become progressively smaller and more powerful. Also called ubiquitous computing, pervasive computing is the result of computer technology advancing at exponential speeds — a trend toward all man-made and some natural products having hardware […]
It wasn’t that long ago that data storage devices were measured in gigabytes and terabyte hard drives seemed exotic. Now that terabytes are commonplace, the next unit of data measurement you’re likely to hear about is the petabyte. In data storage, terms have been defined out to the yottabyte (1024 bytes), or the yobybyte (280 […]