personal computer

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personal computer

(PC), small but powerful computercomputer,
device capable of performing a series of arithmetic or logical operations. A computer is distinguished from a calculating machine, such as an electronic calculator, by being able to store a computer program (so that it can repeat its operations and make logical
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 primarily used in an office or home without the need to be connected to a larger computer. PCs evolved after the development of the microprocessormicroprocessor,
integrated circuit containing the arithmetic, logic, and control circuitry required to interpret and execute instructions from a computer program. When combined with other integrated circuits that provide storage for data and programs, often on a single
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 made possible the hobby-computer movement of the late 1970s, when some computers were built from components or kits. In the early 1980s the first low-cost, fully assembled units were mass-marketed. The typical configuration consists of a video display, keyboard, mouse, logic unit and memory, storage device and, often, a modemmodem
[modulator/demodulator], an external device or internal electronic circuitry used to transmit and receive digital data over a communications line normally used for analog signals.
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; multimediamultimedia,
in personal computing, software and applications that combine text, high-quality sound, two- and three-dimensional graphics, animation, photo images, and full-motion video.
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 computers add a sound-reproduction adapter, stereo speakers, and a compact disccompact disc
(CD), a small plastic disc used for the storage of digital data. As originally developed for audio systems, the sound signal is sampled at a rate of 44,100 times a second, then each sample is measured and digitally encoded on the 4 3-4 in (12 cm) disc as a series of
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 (CD-ROM) drive to this configuration so that material can be presented in a combination of animation, graphics, sound, text, and video. Decreases in component size have made it possible to build portable PCs, or laptops, the size of a ream of paper and smaller, and palmtopspalmtop
or hand-held personal computer,
lightweight, small, battery-powered, general-purpose programmable computer. It typically had a miniaturized full-function, typewriterlike keyboard for input and a small, full color, liquid-crystal display for output.
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, which can be held in one hand. Most current PCs have more computing power, memory, and storage than the large mainframe computers of the 1950s and early 60s. As the speed and power of the complex instruction set computer (CISC) processors used to power PCs have reached levels previously reserved for the reduced instruction set processors (see RISC processorRISC processor
[Reduced Instruction Set Computer], computer arithmetic-logic unit that uses a minimal instruction set, emphasizing the instructions used most often and optimizing them for the fastest possible execution.
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) used in workstations, the distinction between PCs and workstations has blurred. PCs equipped with networking and communications hardware are often used as computer terminalscomputer terminal,
a device that enables a computer to receive or deliver data. Computer terminals vary greatly depending on the format of the data they handle. For example, a simple early terminal comprised a typewriter keyboard for input and a typewriter printing element for
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. See also networknetwork,
in computing, two or more computers connected for the purpose of routing, managing, and storing rapidly changing data. A local area network (LAN), which is restricted by distances of up to one mile, and a metropolitan area network (MAN), which is restricted to distances
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; personal digital assistantpersonal digital assistant
(PDA), lightweight, hand-held computer designed for use as a personal organizer with communications capabilities; also called a handheld. A typical PDA has no keyboard, relying instead on special hardware and pen-based computer software to enable the
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.

Bibliography

See K. A. Jamsa, Welcome to Personal Computers (3d ed. 1995); J. Preston and M. Hirschl, Personal Computing (1997).

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personal computer

[′pər·sən·əl kəm′pyüd·ər]
(computer science)
A computer for home or personal use.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

personal computer

a small inexpensive computer used in word processing, playing computer games, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

personal computer

(computer)
(PC) A general-purpose single-user microcomputer designed to be operated by one person at a time.

This term and the concept has been successfully hijacked by IBM due to the huge market share of the IBM PC, despite its many obvious weaknesses when compared to other equally valid claimants to the term, e.g. the Acorn Archimedes, Amiga, Atari, Macintosh.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

personal computer

(1) Generically, a computer that someone uses; for example, "this is my personal computer."

(2) Technically, a single user computer. A personal computer is also called a "client" and is either a desktop computer or laptop computer. Although it performs the same functions, tablets and smartphones are generally not called a personal computer, although the smartphone has become the most personal of all computers. Windows PCs, Macs and Chromebooks make up the lion's share of desktop and laptop computers, with Linux a distant fourth.

The personal computer term was very popular in the 1980s when computers were purchased for home use for the first time. The term is still used but more infrequently. For a brief history of personal computers, see personal computer timeline. See Windows, Mac computer, Linux and tablet.
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