Types of computers
Since the advent of the first computer, different types and sizes of computers have been offering different services. Computers can be as big as occupying a large building and as small as a laptop or a microcontroller in mobile & embedded systems. There are four basic types of computers.
The most powerful computers in terms of performance and data processing are the supercomputers. Supercomputers are the fastest computers with large data storage capacity. These are specialized and task specific computers used by large organizations.
These computers are used for research and NASA uses exploration purposes e.g. supercomputers for launching space shuttles, controlling them and for space exploration. Some other uses are weather forecasting, earthquake studies and nuclear weapons testing.
Supercomputers are very expensive and very large size. They can be accommodated in large air- conditioned rooms. Some computers can even occupy an entire building.
(2) Mainframe computer
Although not as powerful as supercomputers, mainframe computers are big, powerful, expensive computers used in the background of most large organizations. Mainframes can also process and store large amounts of data. The power of the mainframe can be distributed among many people accessing the mainframe via their own PC or workstation.
Organizations such as large insurance companies and banks would use the mainframe to keep track of their policy holders and accountholders.
Minicomputers are used by small businesses and firms. Minicomputers are also called “Midrange Computers”. These do not have processing and data storage capabilities as high as supercomputers and mainframes, but were higher than PC’s.
These computers are not-designed for a single user. Individual departments large company or organizations use minicomputers for specific purposes. For example, a production department can use minicomputers for monitoring certain production process.
The micro-computers are widely used and the fastest growing computers. These computers are the cheapest among the other three types of computers. Microcomputers are specially designed for general usage like entertainment, education and work purposes. Well known manufacturers of microcomputers are Dell, Apple, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
Personal computers, laptops, personal digital assistant (PDA), tablets and smartphones are all types of microcomputers.
(5) Personal Computer (PC)
IBM invented the PC (Personal Computer) way back in 1981. All PCs released since then are in many ways compatible with the original design, through many extensions have been made. The term PC compatible relates to PCs manufactured by companies other than IBM that are compatible with the traditional PC specification. In the early days, most PCs ran an operating system called DOS (Disk Operating System) these days most PCs are running a version of Microsoft Windows. Typical users: home users, large and small office users.
(6) Apple Mac
A popular model of computers made by Apple Computers introduced in 1984. The Macintosh features a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that utilizes windows, icons and a mouse to make it relatively easy for novices to use the computer productively. Rather than learning a complex set of commands, you need only point to a selection on a menu and click a mouse button.