microcomputer


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microcomputer

a small computer in which the central processing unit is contained in one or more silicon chips

microcomputer

[¦mī·krō·kəm′pyüd·ər]
(computer science)
A digital computer whose central processing unit resides on a single semiconductor integrated circuit chip, a microprocessor.
An electronic device, typically consisting of a microprocessor central processing unit, semiconductor memory (RAM), graphics display, and keyboard. Typical configurations also include a hard disk for persistent memory, a compact disk drive, a disk drive which allows removable disks to be used to move data in and out of the machine, and a pointing device.

Microcomputer

A digital computer whose central processing unit consists of a microprocessor, a single semiconductor integrated circuit chip. Once less powerful than larger computers, microcomputers are now as powerful as the minicomputers and superminicomputers of just several years ago. This is due in part to the growing processing power of each successive generation of microprocessor, plus the addition of mainframe computer features to the chip, such as floating-point mathematics, computation hardware, memory management, and multiprocessing support. See Integrated circuits, Multiprocessing

Microcomputers are the driving technology behind the growth of personal computers and workstations. The capabilities of today's microprocessors in combination with reduced power consumption have created a new category of microcomputers: hand-held devices. Some of these devices are actually general-purpose microcomputers: They have a liquid-crystal-display (LCD) screen and use an operating system that runs several general-purpose applications. Many others serve a fixed purpose, such as telephones that provide a display for receiving text-based pager messages and automobile navigation systems that use satellite-positioning signals to plot the vehicle's position. See Mobile radio

The microprocessor acts as the microcomputer's central processing unit (CPU), performing all the operations necessary to execute a program (see illustration).

A memory subsystem uses semiconductor random-access memory (RAM) for the temporary storage of data or programs. The memory subsystem may also have a small secondary memory cache that improves the system's performance by storing frequently used data objects or sections of program code in special high-speed RAM.

The graphics subsystem consists of hardware that displays information on a color monitor or LCD screen: a graphics memory buffer stores the images shown on the screen, digital-to-analog convertors (DACs) generate the signals to create an image on an analog monitor, and possibly special hardware accelerates the drawing of two- or three-dimensional graphics. (Since LCD screens are digital devices, the graphics subsystem sends data to the screen directly rather than through the DACs.)

The storage subsystem uses an internal hard drive or removable media for the persistent storage of data.

The communications subsystem consists of a high-speed modem or the electronics necessary to connect the computer to a network.

Microcomputer software is the logic that makes microcomputers useful. Software consists of programs, which are sets of instructions that direct the microcomputer through a sequence of tasks. A startup program in the microcomputer's ROM initializes all of the devices, loads the operating system software, and starts it. All microcomputers use an operating system that provides basic services such as input, simple file operations, and the starting or termination of programs. While the operating system used to be one of the major distinctions between personal computers and workstations, today's personal computer operating systems also offer advanced services such as multitasking, networking, and virtual memory. All microcomputers exploit the use of bit-mapped graphics displays to support windowing operating systems. See Operating system, Software

microcomputer

A computer based on a microprocessor.

Contrast with minicomputer, mainframe.

microcomputer

Generally refers to a Windows PC or Mac, but it can refer to any kind of small computer. When the term was first introduced in the late 1970s, it meant a computer with a single microprocessor chip as its CPU, namely, the personal computer. Today, the CPU in every computer is a microprocessor, and the terms "desktop computer," "laptop computer" and "PC" have mostly replaced the word microcomputer.


The Revolution Begins!
In 1977, the same year RadioShack introduced its first microcomputer, the handwriting was on the wall... a "revolution" was beginning.
References in periodicals archive ?
The same basic principles apply whether a mainframe or a microcomputer is employed.
The microcomputer then takes the token and changes the message to busy and the busy message is transmitted.
There have also been a number of relevant articles of a more general nature which provide valuable advice concerning the role of microcomputers and the management of the microcomputer resource[11,12].
Teaching the user about information management using microcomputers.
Since a fundamental philosophy of the program is to raise the floor of microcomputer literacy among Pennsylvania educators, this first-level ITEC course is introductory in nature and designed for the novice.
As others, using other microcomputer systems, read, store information, or pose questions, the rich potential for dialog and information exchange becomes reality.
The schools that have joined the survey this year are a representative cross section of the study population in terms of type, degrees offered, size, mini/mainframe facilities, microcomputer density, and computer operating budget as a percentage of the school's operating budget.
stand-alone microcomputer packages, with the most outstanding example being word processing and desktop publishing software.
Nevertheless, many corporations have decided their information is too valuable to expose to the risks represented by the microcomputer.
The quickly typed macro takes the place of the full array of commands each time a set of microcomputer functions is to be performed.
Microcomputer Software--Because of the proliferation of low-cost microcomputers, telecommunications managers have been seeking new ways to use these tools to control their departments.
Given the relatively low reported usage of mainframe computers, this is likely a result of migrating mainframe legacy systems to microcomputer architectures.

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