Personal Computer

A personal computer (PC) is a general-purpose computer, whose size, capabilities, and original sale price makes it useful for individuals, and which is intended to be operated directly by an end-user with no intervening computer operator. This contrasted with the batch processing or time-sharing models which allowed larger, more expensive minicomputer and mainframe systems to be used by many people, usually at the same time. Large data processing systems require a full-time staff to operate efficiently.

Software applications for most personal computers include, but are not limited to, word processing, spreadsheets, databases, Web browsers and e-mail clients, digital media playback, games, and myriad personal productivity and special-purpose software applications. Modern personal computers often have connections to the Internet, allowing access to the World Wide Web and a wide range of other resources. Personal computers may be connected to a local area network (LAN), either by a cable or a wireless connection. A personal computer may be a desktop computer or a laptop, tablet, or a handheld PC.

Early PC owners usually had to write their own programs to do anything useful with the machines, even lacking an operating system. The very earliest microcomputers, equipped with a front panel, required hand-loading of a bootstrap program to load programs from external storage (paper tape, cassettes, or eventually diskettes). Before very long, automatic booting from permanent read-only memory became universal.

Today's users have access to a wide range of commercial software and freeware, which is provided in ready-to-run or ready-to-compile form. Since the early 1990s, Microsoft operating systems and Intel hardware have dominated much of the personal computer market, first with MS-DOS and then with the "Wintel" (Windows + Intel) combination. Popular alternatives to Microsoft's Windows operating systems include Apple's OS X and the free open-source Linux and BSD operating systems. AMD provides the major alternative to Intel's central processing units. Applications and games for PCs are typically developed and distributed independently from the hardware or OS manufacturers, whereas software for many mobile phones and other portable systems is approved and distributed through a centralized online store.

Read more about Personal ComputerHistory, Hardware, Toxicity, Software, Electronic Waste, See Also

Other articles related to "personal computer, computers, personal computers, computer, personal":

Macintosh Collaboration - Market Share and User Demographics
... the introduction of the Macintosh, Apple has struggled to gain a significant share of the personal computer market ... The installed base of Mac computers is hard to determine, with numbers ranging from 5% (estimated in 2009) to 16% (estimated in 2005) ... Apple has positioned the Mac as a higher-end personal computer, and so it may be misleading to compare it to a budget PC ...
List Of Companies Involved With ATMs - Hardware
... signage to) Sensors and Indicators Due to heavier computing demands and the falling price of Personal Computer-like architectures, ATMs have moved away from custom hardware ... vulnerable to the same sort of problems exhibited by conventional Personal Computers ...
SCELBI
... SCELBI (SCientific ELectronic BIological, pronounced "sell-bee") Computer Consulting was a personal-computer hardware and software manufacturer located in Milford. 154) advertised personal computer sold in kit form, with advertisements in QST, Radio-Electronics and later in BYTE magazine ... point package, making it one of the first examples of non-trivial personal-computer software distribution in the spirit of what would much later become known as open source ...
Personal Computer - See Also
... Computer Science portal Electronics portal Computer virus Desktop computer Desktop replacement computer e-waste IBM 5100 Information and communication ...
Computer Virus - History - Virus Programs
... Creeper used the ARPANET to infect DEC PDP-10 computers running the TENEX operating system ... In 1982, a program called "Elk Cloner" was the first personal computer virus to appear "in the wild"—that is, outside the single computer or lab where it was created ... On its 50th use the Elk Cloner virus would be activated, infecting the personal computer and displaying a short poem beginning "Elk Cloner The program with a personality." Before computer networks became ...

Famous quotes containing the words computer and/or personal:

    Family life is not a computer program that runs on its own; it needs continual input from everyone.
    Neil Kurshan (20th century)

    The child realizes to every man his own earliest remembrance, and so supplies a defect in our education, or enables us to live over the unconscious history with a sympathy so tender as to be almost personal experience.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)